Imagine charging your phone while it’s still in your pocket. That’s the dream behind the MotherBox. But the company didn’t start out trying to improve wireless charging. Instead, they thought about trying to solve a larger problem: that energy distribution for technology is far from what it can be. “Technology today is like a sexy Ferrari that’s incredibly low on gas. It’s beautiful and amazing, but limited in its true potential,” said Josh Yank, the MotherBox campaign’s CEO. “It doesn’t have to be this way.” Enter the MotherBox, the first truly wireless charger that can charge devices with no contact required. It allows users to charge multiple devices simultaneously without worrying about cables.
Taking charge of their own destiny
Despite their campaign success, crowdfunding wasn’t the avenue they initially explored. “We were originally going to do a B2B model and license our wireless charging technology to some of the largest smartphone and tablet manufacturers in the world,” said Josh.
But when they started meeting with executives, it became clear that selling to a major company right off the bat was going to be time-intensive. “Some of their needs would have taken all of our resources to compete for a development contract we weren’t yet getting paid for,” said Josh. “We could keep kicking tires with them for months before they would be satisfied.”
The team behind MotherBox wanted to put their destiny in their own control, so they turned to crowdfunding to roll out their own wireless charging products and then later try to sell their technology into the B2B space. “If the product was proven successful, it would not only give us a better standing in terms of negotiation, it would also attract companies that hadn’t heard of us.” said Josh. “Which has worked. We’re now working on a development agreement.”
Building up a community
To make their crowdfunding campaign work, they had to explain their product to their users and activate their base. “Crowdfunding isn’t as simple as just throwing your campaign up on there. That’s not really how it works. You have to put a lot of legwork in,” said Josh.
They decided to invest in their video by bringing in an outside agency because they saw it as one of the key marketing drivers on their campaign. “It’s the most important thing you put forward to describe the product to the user,” said Josh. “So we partnered with Lemon Light Media to make it professional.” They also used the press to their advantage and got mentioned in the media, driving about $30-40k in funding for them in one day.
But the initial turnout of their organic network wasn’t what they expected. “In the first few days, you typically want to get 30% of your goal. It substantially increases your odds by validating your campaign to others. If you don’t have that initial pop of momentum it’s really hard to gain traction.,” said Josh.
Although they’d gotten the word out to their networks, they’d failed to set a timeframe. “Our first few days were well below our expectations. Our friends and family didn’t show up as much as we wanted them to,” he said. “Don’t take people for granted. Even if it’s your best friends, you still have to keep on them to not only make sure they show up, but also make sure they understand the importance of timing.”
Making something trustworthy
MotherBox is part of the Arrow Certification Program. Josh and his team worked with engineers at Arrow to get a comprehensive, independent review of their technology design to make sure it worked and would be able to be produced on a large scale. They were able to talk to Arrow about their prototype to get a third-party product validation. Arrow supported MotherBox’s technology, offered advice on what components to use and made introductions to different manufacturers.
Most importantly, Arrow’s certification signaled to backers that the technology design was sound. Backers know that campaigns bearing the Arrow Certification badge have been carefully reviewed and are more likely to work as advertised. “There can sometimes be skepticism around new technology,” said Josh. “Arrow was helpful to our end consumers for getting endorsement that what we’re doing is useful.”
Getting feedback from the crowd
Since the campaign ended, Josh and his team have been using their backer community to get feedback. “It’s very cool that you can very closely interact with people who are interested in what you’re doing to build the best product possible. These people have already put their money down to show that they’re interested in what we’re doing,” said Josh. “So if you’re considering any product changes or new features, you can communicate that directly with your backers.”
“I talk to backers all the time and they’ve been very helpful for our decision making. For instance, we’re thinking of making some design improvements. So I’m planning to survey our current backers to give them some design options to consider,” said Josh. “It’s not about what I’m interested in. It’s about what our core customers are interested in.”
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