Do any of you remember Ear-O-Smart? Their campaign hit the headlines back in 2016 and was covered by the likes of Forbes.com, CBC News, Wareable and the BBC. Ear-O-Smart got the kind of attention that ensured that their crowdfunding campaign got off to a great start, the ‘world’s first fashionable, smart earring’ ended up making less than half of their initial $30,000 goal.
Fast forward to 2017, and Ear-O-Smart had evolved into Joule Smart Earring before disappearing. Since then our ears have been wooed by the likes of Swing Hearables, Peripherii and more recently by a pair of hands free wearable ear cuffs with wireless Bluetooth capabilities by L U X E Bluetooth. At first glance, the ear cuffs look like they would appeal to every stylish tech-forward woman, so why with 8 hours to go, only £1,771 of the £22,882 goal has been pledged?
Designed To Be The Epitome of Fashion Meets Function
Toronto based startup L U X E Bluetooth introduced their smart jewellery for the modern women on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. Infused with technology, the wearable device is designed to fit seamlessly into your day to day routine at the touch of a button. With convenience being the name of the game, the ear cuffs offer hands-free calling, the freedom to listen to music on the go and the ability to stay organised with your voice assistant.
Driven by the need to make sure that they are not sacrificing style, the collection was crafted with silver plated metals, a blend of Swarovski crystals, cubic zirconia and natural gemstones. Each Bluetooth ear cuff comes in a matte chrome coloured handle that complements the silver-plated jewellery finishes. The handle can easily rotate to fit either the left or right ear and comes with an adjustable knob that allows you to customise the length for optimal fit. At the top sits a soft rubber material that’s comfortable against your ear. Then there is the flexible ear hook that tightens around your ear so that it stays securely in place. A one-touch button gives you complete access to voice command, music and calls.
Described as the epitome of fashion meets function by L U X E Bluetooth co-founder Hoda Menshari, the ear cuffs, have only managed to attract about 28 backers, which works to be about 8% of the actual goal. It is a low number that makes me wonder whether the design was at fault (they kind of look like a blingy hearing aid) or if it takes a lot more to succeed on crowdfunding platforms these days.
Aesthetics aside, it is no secret that running a successful campaign is difficult. So much so, that some insiders have started to wonder whether the golden-age of crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter has come to an end. This valid point is challenged by those who are still optimistic like the World Bank which predicted crowdfunding to reach $90 billion annually by 2025. They still believe that these type of platforms could be the Valhalla for many startups. Well, whichever way you swing, there are certain factors that you need to take into account before starting your campaign.
Toot Your Own Horn
Just because you go live on Kickstarter does not mean you will automatically attract pledges. You need a strong strategy, which should start with building a community before you launch your campaign. Whether that be creating a twitter or Instagram account so you can begin ‘recruiting’ those who could be interested in your product, this, in turn, could lead to interest from various press, all before your campaign goes live. So never be afraid to toot your own horn, because in the end luck has nothing to do with running a successful campaign.
You could have a brilliant product. So brilliant, that you are confident that everyone is going to love it. Then they don’t. That does not make your product terrible; it is just that sometimes the market isn’t ready to adopt your innovation. One of the reasons could be that they do not understand what role your device could play in their life, especially if they already own a device that offers similar perks to the product you are plugging. If this is the case, then you might be forced to shelve it.
Novelty Vs Usefulness
When it comes to wearable tech, your device can either be labelled as a novelty or a useful invention. Usually, the product that grabs the most attention falls into the ‘useful’ category. This is because the majority of people are willing to invest in a device that offers convenience. So first ask yourself, does what you have to offer solve a problem?
Amitava Chattopadhyay, the Chaired Professor of Corporate Innovation at GlaxoSmithKline, once wrote in an article that claiming a product is innovative reduces the total pledge amount by 26 per cent. When you think about it, it does make sense. Nobody likes the hard sell; it doesn’t come across genuine. So sticking to the facts with a sprinkle, not downpour, of PR jargon could be your saving grace when it comes to selling your idea to a sceptical public.
High Funding Goal
When you set your funding goal, make sure you think about whether you are aiming too high. Is the amount you are requesting attainable on that platform? The bottom line is that it is already hard to raise money on crowdfunding sites so make sure that your funding goals are realistic.
Making Sure You Choose Your Platform Wisely.
Although we have all heard of Kickstarter and Indiegogo, there are other specialised platforms out there that could be a better option for your project. Although not famous, they could compliment your device much better and also there is less competition when it comes to being noticed among hundreds of other projects.
Is Crowdfunding right for your Business?
Crowdfunding has a reputation for being the easy way of raising money, but nothing could be further from the truth. Crowdfunding on these type of platforms comes with the kind of challenges that have to mean that the average success rate is quite low. So if you are looking to raise money, you should take a moment to consider whether raising money through platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo is to your benefit in the long run because there are other ways to raise money that could be more fitting for you.
Lastly, let’s look at the bigger picture. When it comes to the crowdfunding system’s approach, I think it needs an upgrade, stat. One of the things that the big honchos behind the platforms need to think about is how they can increase the success rate for startups raising funds. Currently, the success rate is around 37%, according to The Balance Small Business. Therefore, I think it is imperative for these platforms to provide the kind of support that will help them avoid making entirely avoidable mistakes.
Founding editor-in-chief of FashNerd.com, Muchaneta is currently one of the leading influencers writing about the merger of fashion with technology and wearable technology. She has also given talks at Premiere Vision, Munich Fabric Start and Pure London, to name a few. Besides working as a fashion innovation consultant for various fashion companies like LVMH Atelier, Muchaneta has also contributed to Vogue Business, is a senior contributor at The Interline and an associate lecturer at London College of Fashion, UAL.