THE STORY OF THE ANAMINA MIXING-BOWL
THE STORY OF THE ANAMINA MIXING-BOWL
Anamina Core SRL
Anamina Core SRL aims to design, produce and distribute a collection of innovative, nicely designed and utility featured kitchen products under the umbrella of the Ananima brand.
I hope to raise at least $50k; this amount would cover the funding need for the tooling construction and, partially, for the production of the first bunch of end-goods. I had two unsuccessful attempts of launching my first crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, in May 2019 and in July 2019. Each time I canceled the campaign in few days after starting, I refunded the very few backers and brought my campaign back to the pre-launch status. Meanwhile, I improved some details of the product, I optimized the production cost and I plan to re-launch next spring. I would rather re-launch my campaign on Kickstarter this time, just that Romania (where my company is fiscally registered) is not eligible for Kickstarter. I am currently searching for a partner or some other solution.
Who are you and what business did you start?
Please allow me to briefly introduce myself: my name is Carmen David, I am 47 years old and I live in Bucharest-Romania. I am a mother of two: a little daughter – Ana, and a teenage son – Mina (my anamina®Trade Mark stands for their names). I hold a license in law and an Executive MBA, and since the age of 19, I worked as an employee in different executive roles, in various industries. When I turned 45, I felt a barrier to finding a good job after maternity leave. But I also realized that many of my dreams were still ”pending”, that I need to spend more time with my kids, that I value and wish to do things I never had time for. I felt it was just the right time for a turnaround, so I decided to give up the corporate environment and to capitalize on my professional and life experience, by starting my own entrepreneurial project. And so was born my commitment to creating something close to my heart.
It all started with a pen-and-paper sketch; I started this adventure by drawing my idea on paper, without having any prior knowledge about design, or about product development, or about mass production, or about crowdfunding, or about the online marketing. I had absolutely no clue regarding the investment of time, effort and money I was supposed to bring in. I simply had a product idea, I believed in it with all my power, and I said to myself ”what could be so complicated?!”. Of course, the reality cruelly exceeded my imagination and each step forward proved to be a struggle, it required tones of information, hard work, patience, and iron-determination. But I’m good at the last one, so I did my very best to cover somehow all the others. 🙂
I had in my mind the idea of my first product (the anamina®mixing bowl) since long ago, as a solution to my own practical trouble of keeping the kitchen clean and tidy while cooking. The project refers to a spherical bowl assembly having a configuration that forbids food drops to spread outside the bowl in the working area while mixing the ingredients.
The anamina®Mixing Bowl is the perfect solution for mixing anything without splashing, spilling or splattering and helps people keep their kitchen clean and tidy with no effort. For more details, please visit our website, or please watch the full presentation-movie (2:48 min) here: (this is the movie I used for the second Indiegogo launching attempt, but for the next launch I will update it to the latest changes I’ve done and will shorten it to less than 2 min.).
For the entire development of my project so far, I could not afford to hire people (as I sustained all costs involved from personal resources), but I worked with freelancers or companies, based on service-contracts. I am very grateful for being so lucky to meet and work with incredibly talented people who invested passion and dedication alongside their professional expertise.
The innovative details of my mixing bowl have been recognized and awarded with both Design and Utility Model Patents, which are pending or have been released in Europe, China, and the US respectively.
But maybe the most powerful strength of this product is its wide addressability as the target audience consists of ultimately any person who ever tried to cook something. The anamina® Mixing Bowl is the kind of product suitable in any household.
The primary consequence of this attribute is a great marketing potential that has been also confirmed by:
- The impressively massive and positive feedback and comments to our presence on social media (on numerous FB large groups of 50-100k members, various FB ads, the anamina® FB and IG pages);
- I have been approached by an infomercial (teleshopping) company in the United States, which proposed a licensing agreement and during the discussions, they stated their willingness to commit on a minimum sale-volume of 1Milion units/ year. “1 Million units sales/year” sounds truly encouraging when such figure was advanced by somebody having the best expertise in launching new, innovative products on the market;
- I extensively searched the e-commerce global platforms, as well as all major brands’ websites promoting and selling cookware items and I did not identify any similar product, so I did not acknowledge having a direct competitor yet; I checked in-depth the mixing-bowl niche on Amazon and my conclusion is, on one hand, that there is no similar item proposed to the market and, on the other hand, this niche records huge sale-volumes, which is a great premise for my product.
Having said all that, THE BIG QUESTION here is why my two attempts of crowdfunding my project have been such a failure though?
Tell us about the process of creating your product.
By consulting architects, engineers, and plastic-mold specialists and by listening to tons of advice and opinions, I finally saw my idea turned into a real, complex, professional industrial-scale project, ready to be implemented in the tooling process.
Today, the anamina®mixing-bowl is in the phase of:
- Finalized technical project (after several iterations);
- 3D printed samples and artisanal prototypes available;
- Tooling manufacturer selected and tooling production agreement concluded, expecting to start the tooling (molds) production.
After careful deliberation on offers from three continents, I concluded the production contract with China United Mould – a top-level manufacturer from China.
Kickstarter Marketing Strategy
Walk us through your pre-launch marketing...
I would answer this question by splitting my response into two steps:
I. Pre-launch marketing for my first attempt of launching my crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo on the 28th of May 2019
I made all the preparations inhouse, meaning that I worked together with a brilliant IT specialist from Romania, who practically did most of what we succeeded to prepare. I need to mention though that this gentleman had absolutely no prior experience in terms of online marketing or crowdfunding. But I trusted completely his talent and intelligence, and we worked together (he was in charge of everything online or requiring IT knowledge; I was mostly responsible for the content, for providing the needed materials (images, film, etc.), for keeping track of everything we were doing. I’ve read hundreds of pages about crowdfunding, I listened to webinars and podcasts while my colleague learned how to implement each step; however, we did our very best.
Our pre-launch preparations consisted of:
– Creating the website;
– Making the full presentation-movie (2:48 min) +several short/ medium versions; setting the Facebook Business account, attracting and engaging 740 followers; the Instagram account; the LinkedIn account;
– We have run FB lead-generation campaigns starting from mid-April until the 29th of May, we spent 5,000 US$ and earned ~3,500 email subscribers. We also ran Manychat campaigns and reached ~700 email subscribers;
– We’ve sent several newsletters via Mailchimp (with an open-rate of ~5-8%), we created and posted content on FB (both personal and business page) and tried to engage the community of about 3k US citizens I built on my personal page;
– Creating the Indiegogo page (we succeeded to build a very professional and complete page on Indiegogo; we worked a lot on that page and started by researching dozens and dozens of successful campaigns’ pages and inspiring ourselves from all interesting or catching elements).
We thought we did everything right, that we have ticked all the boxes. In day one after launching, we spent ~$1,000 on our best ads, we’ve sent newsletters, we’ve sent messages through the chatbot. The campaign had 6 pledges from only my friends. I was desperate, I was in a sort of shock as after an incredibly tiring period, of working days and nights and spending a quite significant budget on ads, I expected my campaign to rock. The reality was like a terrible nightmare.
In day two after launching, I realized that my campaign was a failure. I could not understand why; I hoped it may be a solution, a miracle to help it recover, so I started writing desperate messages to the crowdfunding gurus I connected with over the time, people running global crowdfunding agencies, raising hundreds of millions and having fantastic experience in this area.
If you’d like to see how a desperate message looks like, these are a few samples:
”(…) I am literally desperate: I launched my first Indiegogo campaign 20 hours ago and it doesn’t work at all. I had 2,400 clicks on the campaign page and zero conversions. I really do not understand what I did wrong, but I need help. (…)
(…) It is impossible for me to understand what is the problem. We had 3,500 emails further to FB ads and 700 Manychat contacts, but plenty of incredibly positive comments and reactions on social media showing that people need, like and understand the utility of our product. Still, we had such a poor start and I cannot understand what did we do wrong… Is it the price? Did we make a bad presentation film? I cannot figure out. We advertised the project in day1, we have so far 6.5k visits on the IGG page and 6 backers who are my friends. What could be so wrong? (…)”
In essence, the replies I have got were saying that nobody could tell what happened indeed without a detailed analysis; however, the very bad conversion rate was showing a major disconnection between my potential customer and the problem my product solves; the reason could have very much been the price. And also, that with such a slow start, it would have been an extremely hard uphill battle since I have had lost the chance for a “boom” at the beginning which would have given me the momentum to keep growing the campaign. All-in-all, I was told that it was practically impossible to recover and I was advised to start again from the pre-campaign and relaunching – which I did.
II. Pre-launch marketing for my second attempt of launching my crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo on the 22nd of July 2019
After my first trial, I thought my main mistake was to try doing everything inhouse, that despite all our efforts and hundreds of pages, webinars, and crowdfunding platforms resources we studied, our lack of experience was the issue. I kept blaming myself for trying to learn the process and work everything inhouse (although the main reason for doing so was the lack of money); I thought I should have approached a major crowdfunding agency and benefit from their know-how and experience. So I’ve appointed meetings with some of the most important global crowdfunding agencies and discussed the relaunch. I could not afford to pay the budgets requested upfront by most of them, but I was lucky enough to virtually meet an executive of Funded Today. They understood my context and agreed to work with me for the relaunch based on a smaller upfront budget, by supporting the entire cost of paid media advertising – which, of course, would have been reflected into a higher commission I was supposed to pay at the campaign-end.
This formula suited me best as, on one hand, there was not much left in my pocket, so I was truly happy that Funded Today accepted my limited budget but much more important, they were willing to pay for the entire advertising campaign which meant they were ready to bring some skin in the game, which showed their commitment and trust in my product – and that’s what I valued most.
I signed an agreement with Funded Today, I have met the team in charge of my campaign, gave them my credentials for everything I had and… I was expecting the miracle to happen.
I relaunched the campaign on the 22nd of July and the second attempt was, again, a complete failure, despite all efforts of Funded Today. I cannot disclose the Marketing Report I received from Funded Today, but I can tell that I had a great collaboration with them and they acted from the very first moment up to the last day of collaboration in a very professional manner. It’s almost funny, but despite this failure, most probably I am going to appoint Funded Today again for the relaunch on Kickstarter as my balance of collaborating with FT team is a positive one.
Regarding the pre-launch preparation, I should mention that the Funded Today team audited my Indiegogo page, as well as my media kit and everything I have had done inhouse. They recommended several improvements for the presentation movie and the Indiegogo page, and I entirely followed their advice; however, their feedback, in general, was that ”my page looked great”, that ”the film was perfect” and that ”the price should not be an issue in their opinion”.
At the end of this second attempt, I was not more ”enlightened” than at the very beginning of this adventure, meaning that I had no clue about the concrete reasons why I failed so terribly.
Therefore, I’ve made a recap:
– Product → Nicely received by the US citizens on FB, hundreds of positive or enthusiastic comments and not even one single negative feedback, despite the usual sarcasm of people commenting on social media;
– Website → Quite nice and complete;
– IGG page → I would rate it as ”perfect” :-);
– Paid ads → $1,43/ lead (per subscriber email address);
– Presentation movie →Too long (I am currently working on shortening it to about 1,5 min.);
– Platform → Most probably Indiegogo was not a fortunate choice (but, as explained, I was not eligible for Kickstarter); however, I will find a solution to relaunch on Kickstarter;
– Price → Here comes THE BIG ISSUE.
Did you do any Kickstarter advertising?
Why my both attempts of launching a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo have been such a disaster?
Because I missed testing the price. And because it is a huge difference between people liking and enthusiastically commenting on a product, and people taking out money from their pocket to actually buying that product, especially when it is expensive and it will be, prospectively, delivered after 6 months, while shipping fees would be added to the unit price. I tested the product, the film, the ads, but I have never communicated the price before launching.
I had an amazing response to our posts and ads. When we prepared the sample below, we intentionally did not choose the most enthusiastic comments or remarks, as we considered it would have sounded like a fake, nobody would have believed us.
This incredible FB vibe narcotized my objectivity and I missed communicating the price in advance. And I also missed justifying that price.
Here it the thing:
The ExWorks price + shipping from China to the US, led to a landed cost of $22. On top of that, I had to consider several other costs, the platform’s commission, the fiscal duties in my country etc., etc.. For the first launch attempt, I proposed a MSRP of $49 and I discounted the perks starting from $33.
For the second trial, since my costs overall significantly increased, I proposed a MSRP of $59 and I discounted the perks starting from $39.
On top of the unit price, the shipping cost was added, starting from $11 – the best-case scenario.
In both launching attempts, my calculation showed a break-even at 5k units sold, meaning that in such scenario, the tooling cost + all the due commissions and taxes + partially the cost of goods sold would have been covered.
I somehow assumed people would appreciate the patented, innovative product and would understand that I was proposing a sort of ”rocket” quality as, at that time, I intended to produce my item of the highest quality material available on the market, which is also incredibly expensive (6 times more expensive than other high quality, food-grade plastics).
I’ve read all comments to our ads during the two launching attempts and realized a quite general attitude-change, sort of ”it’s nice, but we can live without it”. I finally realized that nobody would pay $50 for ”a plastic bowl”, moreover that it seems I failed to clearly justify this price.
However, I reconsidered entirely my product. Apparently, around $29.90 would be the MSRP accepted by the market.
I researched raw-materials suitable for my product and I found another food-grade, top quality material, looking stunning, which is much cheaper than my first choice. I retouched the project, made some minor changes that are also cost-saving.
Today, my landing cost in the US would be around half of the previous one, which means that I shall start my next launch trial from a very attractive offer.
What are some of the PR, blogs, newsletters and paid placements you used?
I posted the project (with link to our website) on several groups of entrepreneurs, people acting in e-commerce, and also some other different communities. I’ve tried to approach influencers as well, I wrote messages to Jamie Oliver 🙂 (ok, I guess they went to his stuff), but nobody ever replied. Truth is that I had a quite limited budget, so it was not enough room for a consistent influencers campaign. I didn’t even consider PR, which it should have been done in the US, for the same reason and also due to my lack of know-how and experience. Looking backward, I regret that I did not focus on PR. I somehow overlooked the PR power and this was another serious mistake. We’ve sent a sequence of emails, but not a real newsletter.
Do you have any advice for other entrepreneurs about Kickstarter?
Yes, I would kindly recommend:
1. To test everything in advance and while doing this, to increase and engage the community around the product or concept.
2. To minimally secure the idea from IP rights perspective and then, immediately spread the word; to continuously talk, or write, or post about it, to invest the needed effort in creating and engaging a community around it.
3. Not to be discouraged by failure, moreover in case of crowdfunding, when someone has the privilege of resetting everything and starting back, again and again.
What apps or tools are most important to your business?
Facebook, Instagram, Vimeo, MailChimp for mailing lists, Google Analytics, Skype and Zoom for international calls – quite standard tools.
What are your sources of inspiration?
I learned from the major players in the industry. I checked the ”Resources” pages of Indiegogo and Kickstarter, then the lists of recommended agencies, then each agency’s website, blog, the archive of podcasts, e-books, etc.. Here is where I found most of the valuable information I used.
Also, I subscribed to Medium.com and found plenty of useful, inspirational articles.
I approached the very few individuals in my country who have ever run successful campaigns on Kickstarter. I’ve got some bits of advice from them as well.
I love my product, I loved it since it was just an idea. I like so much my prototype, it is the kind of object that would always catch my eyes from the shelves. I completely believe in this product, with all my power.
Although it sounds cliche, my true source of power, motivation, and inspiration is my family, my AnaMina. I love my life as an aspirant entrepreneur, I finally found a great professional scope to invest my native determination in and I took a one-way ticket for my project.
How are things today and what are your plans for the future?
In a way or another, I will relaunch my campaign on Kickstarter next spring. I hope it will be a sound campaign.
If not – as I am now prepared for this as well – I will cancel the campaign, I will improve things and relaunch again.
I will keep you posted.
I started thinking about the second item in my anamina®collection. I’m working on it.