How Dale Backus started ohsnap, a premium phone accessory business, and some tips from his crowdfunding marketing strategy on Kickstarter and Indiegogo that raised over $600k!
Who are you and how did you start ohsnap?
Tell us about the process of creating ohsnap.
Crowdfunding Marketing Strategy
Walk us through your pre-launch marketing…
Did you do any advertising or hire a Kickstarter Agency?
What are some of the best crowdfunding Marketing Services you used?
Do you have any advice for other entrepreneurs about crowdfunding?
Do you have any crowdfunding tips for other entrepreneurs?
What are your sources of inspiration?
How are things today and what are your plans for the future of ohsnap?
Where can we learn more?
I’m Dale Backus, founder of ohsnap, inc. Ohsnap was created from the desire to have a better, more comfortable, more empowering phone experience. There is a huge array of cellphone accessories that do one thing or another, but a true all-in-one solution was lacking, let alone one that I could bear to have on my phone for any length of time.
Popsockets is the elephant in the room, but they are one dimensional, cheaply made products targeted at young females as more of a fashion accessory than a functional one. Ohsnap flips this and is targeting males who prioritize function, and want the very best. (This doesn’t mean we’re excluding women altogether by any means, our customer demographic is almost 40% women).
Ohsnap is truly unique in that it has by far the most features/benefits of any product in this category, while maintaining the smallest thickness of 3mm. There are tons of products out there already: Pop grips, stands, magnets, car mounts, rings, etc – ohsnap does all of these things and does them well and is in most cases thinner than any of these.
Ohsnap is the first product of many for ohsnap, inc as we continue on our quest to enhance the everyday phone experience. Phones are no longer physically designed to do the myriad of things we now use them for (photo camera, video camera, television, internet browsing, navigation, gaming, etc) – and ohsnap fixes this problem. Ohsnap is the phone grip that doesn’t suck.
The first company I founded is called SmallHD in 2007. I was only 22 when I started this business and not formally trained in any type of engineering. I learned on the job and found my passion for inventing physical products and gained the skills to do so along the way. I sold that company in 2014.
The idea for ohsnap came a couple months after attending the CES tradeshow in 2017. I came across a phone grip company (not popsockets, another one), that looked like they were doing rather well. I talked to the owner of the company and when asked, he told me he had sold over a million units. This was an extremely simple product consisting of an elastic band adhered to the back of a phone.
This stuck with me, as an inventor always looking to solve problems with physical products, it seemed like these existing products were only scratching the surface of what was possible. A couple months after the show, the idea of using a bistable spring (think slap bracelet) popped into my head while going to sleep. I immediately found an old slap bracelet, cut it up and crudely taped it to my phone, forming the very first prototype.
Hundreds and hundreds of prototypes were created as I kept trying new things and adding new features. A good 3D printer is indispensable for this type of thing and was the first investment I made towards making this product a reality. I was able to utilize relationships I had created during my career at my first startup to help bring the product to life.
Fast forward 3 years and literally hundreds of prototypes later, ohsnap is now in mass production, boasting the thinnest package with the most function in the world.
Ohsnap had a couple false starts. False start meaning we thought we were ready to mass produce only to later realize this wasn’t the case. One thing I say to people all the time and something that is only truly learned the hard way is, there is a MASSIVE difference between building 1 of something, and building thousands or millions of something at a good cost and consistent quality. Never, ever underestimate this. At each quantity milestone (1, hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands, million) there is at least 1 order of magnitude in increased difficulty.
Anyway, the actual launch was our Kickstarter campaign on Sep 4, 2019. This was after we had already built and launched our website but ultimately decided to do crowdfunding before promoting our own site. Due to the last minute nature of the decision to crowdfund, we didn’t have much time to pre-market ohsnap, build a list, or do any of the recommended pre-marketing activities. So, I hired a crowdfunding agency called Funded Today.
Funded Today is a well established brand in the space, and has a unique model whereby they drive most of the traffic via paid marketing (facebook mostly), and they front this cost for you, but in return they get 35% of the raise. This is a tough pill to swallow, but what made it work for me is the value I was trying to gain from the kickstarter was more than profit. It was the notoriety and social proof that comes with a huge raise on Kickstarter. Also, I’d rather have part of a watermelon than all of a grape.
The key to Kickstarter is to get into the top “trending” category on Kickstarter. We did this Day 1 with an aggressive friends and family campaign, achieving our target raise of $10K in the first day. Then, the Funded Today ads did their work and we were able to consistently appear in the top 10 of all kickstarter campaigns when sorting by popularity, all categories. This was the biggest factor in our success.
To elaborate on the above, the biggest factor in our Kickstarter success was Funded Today. However, I can’t stress enough how paid visibility is only one piece of the puzzle. Having a compelling product, at an affordable price, that was communicated well with a good video and campaign page was key. No amount of advertising can fix a poor product idea, and this is where many go wrong – self awareness.
Overall though, the most effective way of acquiring customers was:
1 – Have a good product, communicated well, at a good price
2 – Paid media to keep consistent backers coming from off-platform (Kickstarter)
3 – Use that to rise into the top of popularity and see huge numbers from people just browsing on Kickstarter for cool stuff
Other than Funded Today, we got a ton of inbound interest for PR agencies, blogs, review sites, paid newsletters, etc. I did several of these and my experience was a couple in particular did well, generating an ROI of over 5-10x, but most were around 1x. I’m not actually sure why that is, but “backer clubs” like Backerclub, Backercity, Backerland, etc all boast huge lists, but some definitely seem better than others.
Backerclub (paid newsletter)
Backerland (paid newsletter)
Backercity (paid newsletter) (This one worked best of these)
Boost Coverage (ongoing PR) (didn’t work that well)
Studybreaks (got this through Funded Today)
Prefundia (have to get voted in top 3 in a given week and you make newsletter)
Thisiswhyimbroke.com (through Funded Today)
Yankodesign.com (Through Funded Today)
Crowdox Newsletter (Crowdox is the fulfillment platform we went with, they have a newsletter)
Heartbeat (A paid micro-influencer platform for instagram. Harder to measure this)
The Elevator Newsletter: (through Funded Today)
Gadgetflow – (paid placement)
Subreddit promotion (paid placement)
Startupselfie.net (don’t remember how i got this)
Fountain of 30 Holiday Gift Guide (i think someone reached out to me on this one)
I’ve gathered information from so many varying sources over the years. The only thing I can really recommend is the Funded Today podcast has been the most consistent source of information for me regarding crowdfunding strategy and tactics.
We are still extremely new and haven’t even started selling off Indiegogo yet (we launched an IGG InDemand campaign immiately after our 30-day Kickstarter, wish it was longer, to capture the momentum we had). However, in our 3 month selling history, our average monthly revenue would be about 200k. But it’s hard to say what this will look like going forward so check back in a few more months.
We have several new products in development at the moment as well. The decision hasn’t been made to go with Kickstarter or not.