Entrepreneur Tim Haaksma quit his solid job at Philips to start his own company. Avanca may have begun in Tim’s living room but it is now the fastest growing hardware company in Europe. The team at Avanca were united around a vision to create a mobile device with all of the computing powers of a PC. Today, that device has a name: Ockel Sirius.
Marketing Director at Avanca, Nathalie van Wijkvliet, explains the motivation behind their company: “Everything we do has always been inspired by the definition of radical innovation, which is a good design with new functionalities,” says Nathalie. “We see the mobile world and the desktop world growing together, and with the Ockel Sirius B, we took the first steps.”
The team had already created the device before they started crowdfunding. “We actually didn’t know that we could also use Indiegogo when you’re already in the final stages of your product development and ready to start your production,” she remembers.
When the team visited the largest consumer electronics show in Europe, the IFA show in Berlin, an account manager at Indiegogo convinced them to put the product on Indiegogo. “He saw us and said ‘Please can you put this on Indiegogo because I think the crowd is going to love it.’” So they decided to raise funds for production, with a goal of $10,000. They not only passed their goal of $10,000 in 16 hours, but they have now raised almost half a million dollars on their first campaign alone.
They launched the campaign with the intention of only raising money for the production of Ockel Sirius B. “But then something great happened, which is also why I love crowdfunding,” Nathalie says. Backers asked the team to roll out a new version with upgraded hardware components, and they gave very specific and helpful insights on just how to do it.
“The incredible dedication that lots of backers show, they come up with ideas and they take their time to share their knowledge with you,” Nathalie says. “We have some people on the Indiegogo campaign page who actually have more knowledge of technology than we do—and that’s really cool.”
The Ockel Sirius A is an entirely different device that resulted from those conversations with backers. The new product stays true to the team’s mission of radical innovation. Not only does it fit in your pocket with a weight as light as an iPhone, and all of the capabilities of Windows 10, but also it’s beautiful. The slanted shape adds a twist to the typical smartphone style, and the case features intersecting, asymmetrical lines that mesmerize the eyes. More important to the functionality, it manages to fit ports for USB 3.0, HDMI, USB Type-C and LAN.
They also made improvements to Ockel Sirius B in the form of Ockel Sirius B Black Cherry, which looks different from Ockel Sirius B “under the hood.” It has a different processor, twice the amount of RAM, more internal storage, and a USB 3.0 port. “We did that all based on feedback from the backers,” Nathalie says. “If it wouldn’t have been for the backers we never would have created the Ockel Sirius B Black Cherry.
Indiegogo was a great way to connect with the innovators, and we can really learn from them. The feedback you get—the technical knowledge that [the backers] have, the ideas they have about how to improve the device… I think it would be impossible to have this community on a platform that isn’t Indiegogo.”
As she has learned, honesty and communication are key in crowdfunding, and that goes both ways. “We had a lot of challenges designing the new motherboard for the Sirius B Black Cherry, and as long as you are transparent, most of the backers will understand you,” Nathalie says.
After their successful crowdfunding campaign, the team signed up for InDemand to keep attracting new backers. “One of the most important parts for us is to communicate as much with the backers as possible between now and May 2017, when we plan to ship the product,” Nathalie says. “So we turned Monday into Update Monday and we are planning to post an update every Monday. ”
All along, the team at Indiegogo has continued to help Ockel Sirius build on its success. They put them in contact with Indiegogo partner Amazon Launchpad, “which is a very direct contact to a huge sales platform.” Amazon Launchpad is a new store that curates the cutting-edge for consumers to discover fresh new products from today’s brightest startups.
On a grassroots level, the attention Ockel Sirius generated through crowdfunding put them on Microsoft’s radar. “We had to contact Microsoft for the licensing for the Sirius B and they said ‘Like, okay, who are those guys?’ And then, they looked at our campaign page, and then we started talking, and now they are officially supporting us for the Ockel Sirius A.
And I think that’s really cool. We’re a very small company. We’re only four people. So having the direct support of Microsoft for us is something really incredible, and I think using Indiegogo as a platform definitely helped with that.”
The Sirius B Mini PC is now selling on Indiegogo’s Marketplace, connecting successful entrepreneurs to curious customers from around the world.