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Crowdfunding Rockstars: Feature Interview with Freaker USA Team
© Image: FreakerUSA.com
editorial

Crowdfunding Rockstars: Feature Interview with Freaker USA Team

Editor's Note: This editorial is part of a series of interviews with the most successful crowdfunded campaigns on Kickstarter. The full series will feature experience and insider tips from top 20 campaign founders.

Freaker USA’s mission: “We are pursuing our American dream of preventing all moist handshakes with our patent pending product the Freaker.”

The Freaker is a colorful, knitted, one-size-fits-all slip-on for anything, from bottles to fashionable armbands. The folks behind the Freaker raised $67,770 with their magnetic charm and crazy style. The Freaker team spent summer 2011 in a boxcar travelling the U.S. throwing grilled cheese parties to gain publicity for the Freaker — you can’t help but love their energy. Just watch this video, ranked as one of the top 10 videos of 2011 by Kickstarter.

To learn more about the Freaker USA, the team behind it, and how to successfully design and fund a Kickstarter campaign, we spoke to Zach Crain, "Founding Father" of Freaker USA.

Crowdsourcing.org: How long did it take to get your campaign set up?

Zach Crain, Freaker USA: We planned our campaign out for about a month or two! Our graphic designer, Justin, had just done a project video for our dear friends at RubyAssata.com and that's how we found out about the crowdfunding platform. This was before Freaker USA was an actual functioning company. I had been developing the product for about two years. In February, Lauren started working in the office with me. Justin and Oliver had been good friends for a while and when the idea of Kickstarter came up, all four of us started working together intensely. And thus, Freaker USA was formed!

Your video is the most amazing I’ve seen — what did it take to produce it?

Lauren and I researched Kickstarter pitch videos for a couple weeks and took a manifesto of notes on what seemed to work and what didn't. We compiled all of these and wrote 7,000 drafts of what our pitch video would look like. Oliver is a video genius and with our powers combined we finally made a pitch video.

Was it difficult getting accepted into Kickstarter?

One of the biggest challenges must have been getting our project accepted into Kickstarter. At this point in time, they had a vigorous application process (I think they later changed this!) and we kept getting denied because our project was suspiciously businessy, I suppose. To be able to qualify for Kickstarter, you have to be a strictly creative project with a beginning and an end. For legal reasons, you cannot ask for business funding, which we understand. Even though this was a challenge, it really helped us narrow down our goals and focus on key points in our campaign: good news all around!

Why did you choose Kickstarter and not the other platforms?

Kickstarter was ideal because of its exposure and also its basic foundations of functioning. It was the first one that we found, and through our research it turned out to be the one best for us. IndieGoGo was another option, but at the time it was being used primarily for filmmakers rather than product design.

Do you have any tips on how to get the campaign out to as big an audience as possible for a crowdfunding campaign?

We were sleeping on the office floor for two months trying to get our project out to as many outlets as possible. One thing that a lot of people don't fully understand about these campaigns is the amount of work you have to put in them. It's a misconception that you make a video, put it on the internet, and then reap the financial benefits. We wore ourselves out with every possible outlet and it eventually paid off. Hooray!

What's the state of Freaker now? Trade shows? Investors? Retail?

We just got back from a trade show in Atlanta! It's true! We're about to head to NYC next week for another one. Last summer, we bought a boxtruck, converted it into a house and travelled the country throwing free grilled cheese parties spreading the word about Freakers for four months. As of now, it looks like we're going to be at The House of Creatives for SXSW this spring hosting an interview series for the House and getting Freakers in the hands of creatives communities all over the dang place! As for retail, we had about 50 stores across the USA [selling the Freaker] and a couple scattered internationally as of a couple weeks ago. After last week, I think we're up to about 100 stores in the US that carry Freakers and it's great because they're so universal. So, while a lot of our stores are small, artistic, independently owned boutiques, we also have hardware stores, speciality gardening shops and wineries that sell Freakers. If you want to find a physical store in your area, we have a store locator (that will be updated in the next couple of weeks to show who got freaked at the trade shows). Or if you order online, we hand-screen print all the boxes and write everyone love notes to remind you how awesome you are!

We'd like to thank Freaker USA's Zach Crain for taking the time to speak with us about the Freaker. Get in touch with the Freaker team at freaker@freakerusa.com or check out the website at www.freakerusa.com.

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