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Crowdfunding: ideal experience for young entrepreneurs

by JohanBe inspired12/12/2017

Crowdfunding: ideal experience for young entrepreneurs

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Crowdfunding has really taken off in the past few years. More and more companies are using crowdfunding platforms to raise money to produce goods. So how does it work? Pieter Van Moll of Bambooti shares his experiences.

Kickstarter

Bambooti is a startup from Lommel that makes covers mainly for Macbooks and iPhones. Initially only in wood, they are now available in natural stone, as well. “For this project, we turned to the American Kickstarter,” says co-founder Pieter Van Moll. “We chose them because this was and is the world’s biggest crowdfunding platform. So it also allowed us to reach the biggest audience. It has already helped us win customers all over the world: China, Japan, Indonesia, etc.”

Target = USD 10,000

Van Moll and his partner set a target of 10,000 dollars for their first action. They easily reached this sum and eventually collected a total of USD 23,000. For the stone covers, which came later, the target was 20,000 dollars. Here again, they eventually raised a little over USD 23,000.

Marketing tool

“We didn’t really need that money, because the production was more or less financed,” the young Limburg entrepreneur admits. “That’s why we actually see Kickstarter mainly as a marketing tool. You establish a basic community around your product before it is really there. The people who support you are already brand ambassadors, as it were, who help to create word-of-mouth advertising.”

Building a community

This community has to be built carefully, says Van Moll. “We make short films about our products, we ask people for feedback, we collect email addresses, etc. It’s tremendously important to give your backers a feeling of ‘ownership’.

When your project starts on Kickstarter, you also really have to mobilize them to give funds immediately. After all, an awful lot of projects begin on Kickstarter and only the most popular end up high in the website’s ranking. So if you can collect a large sum on day one, more people come into contact with your project and you create a snowball effect.”

Idea of the potential success

Building a community gives you an idea of the potential success of your product, Van Moll explains. On the basis of that, you can estimate more or less how much money you could raise on Kickstarter and how high you can set your goals. “Bear in mind here that there are shipment costs and VAT as well and of course, Kickstarter charges a fee, too,” Van Moll says. “For the latter, you should reckon on five per cent of the sum that you collect.”

Playing business

The Bambooti founder thinks the Kickstarter adventure is an ‘ideal experience’ for young entrepreneurs. “A Kickstarter campaign like this involves everything you will have to deal with later on. You have to do marketing, work out who are your customers, obtain funding, start production, deliver the products, etc. It’s ‘playing business’ on a small scale.”

Pieter Van Moll studied physics at UHasselt and civil engineering at KULeuven. Even during his student days, he had a webshop and a small company that repaired phones. He decided to set up a third company with his partner, Freek Gielen, that produces wooden sunglasses. Bambooti was born. The wooden and stone laptop covers followed later. 

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