Brisbane headphones startup Audeara made a splash when it launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter in March this year and that experience has now inspired its founders to bring other crowdfunding campaigns to life in the form of a pop-up shop.
Audeara makes smart headphones that adjust to each consumer’s personal hearing preferences, incorporating noise-cancelling features and built-in hearing tests to ensure balanced, individually tailored sound.
Within the first 10 hours its Kickstarter campaign launching, Audeara had surpassed its fundraising goal of $100,000, and by the time the campaign had ended in mid-April, the startup had smashed its original goal by raising $466,305 from 1,504 backers over the 45-day campaign.
Four months later, the startup is now working on sending out its headphones to its Kickstarter backers. It’s also looking at expanding Audeara’s product offerings with three new iterations of headphone design, in what is becoming a competitive market for customisable headphones; Melbourne-founded headphone startup Nura raised $6 million from investors after running the most successful Kickstarter campaign in Australian history last year.
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Running a successful Kickstarter campaign has also inspired Audeara to launch a new venture: a pop-up shop akin to a “modern gallery of tech” where users can “touch feel and test” a range of hand-selected startup and Kickstarter-funded products.
“We want to create that experience where the user can break down those barriers of the tech disconnect that comes from the internet, and touch, feel and play with the products,”says Audeara co-founder and director Chris Jeffery, who is also the co-founder of Audeara’s parent company REF Labs.
“The idea came from partly being a consumer of tech, and partly from working in the crowdfunding and startup space: you come to understand the hurt and problems from both sides,” he tells StartupSmart.
“Traditional retail is a bit dead”
Through the pop-up shop, Jeffery wants to “reinvent and recreate” the traditional retail experience, which he believes has “no additional value for a user compared to just going to the internet [to purchase products]”.
“Traditional retail is a bit dead, and it’s no longer an experience for the user. It’s boring, just a collection of products.” Jeffery says.
After seeing first-hand the “belonging, excitement and exclusivity that comes from the Kickstarter space,” as well as the lack of sales resources and commercial distribution capabilities behind many Kickstarter-funded products, Jeffery was inspired to take these problems and create a pop-up solution.
The stores will feature up to five innovative or futuristic products, according to Jeffery, and will stay in the one location for just six weeks, after which the venue for the pop-up, and the products featured, will change.
This rotating model will not only showcase a wide range of emerging technologies to consumers, it will also “recreate the unique experience that drives people in to stores,” Jeffery says.
“Success for us is to know that we are re-creating that retail experience that the consumer values.”
In selecting which products will be featured in these pop-ups, Jeffery and the Audeara team will consider products’ success on platforms like Kickstarter, whether they have attracted a strong consumer following and market adoption, or whether they “have ticked that future tech box”.
The venture, which is yet to be officially named, is expected to launch in Brisbane in the next two to six weeks, according to Jeffery, who will be tracking how consumers respond to it to decide if future pop-ups will take place.
“You need to do market testing — with every company you’re passionate for it to grow and become sustainable. We are strong advocates that the value it provides will be identified, and we think it will have a good acceptance and a good following,” Jeffery says.
Tips for running a successful Kickstarter campaign
Jeffery says that “good preparation, enthusiasm and energy” were vital in ensuring the success of Audeara’s Kickstarter campaign.
Here’s three pieces of advice for fellow entrepreneurs.
1. Let your followers feel like they belong
Building a sense of mutual excitement and community with your follows before a Kickstarter launch will help you achieve success, Jeffery says.
“When you lead up to Kickstarter it’s all about generating a new following. We opened our offices to let the community test the product; we wandered the streets letting people know what Audeara was before it was launched; we had a great email list, a great social following, [and] then [we] let them know when we were going to go live.”
After surpassing the initial goal of $100,000 goal in just 10 hours, Jeffery says “maintaining the excitement and the open line of communication” was vital in keeping Audeara’s campaign from plateauing.
“We were diligently responding to hundreds of Facebook messages and emails — I personally tried to reach out to everyone who had tech or business question,” he says.
By regularly giving updates during the campaign, Jeffery says the startup “established a sense of belonging” where backers felt involved in the product journey.
3. Talk to your customers
“Whenever you bring out a Kickstarter campaign there’s fear from consumers,” Jeffery says.
“They wonder ‘is this real, is this tech really what it promises [to be]?'”
To overcome this distrust and fear, Audeara made a concerted effort to get its product out to the public and show consumers the value of the offering.
“We worked hard on the ground with activations to let people see others were using the product, talking about it, showing it was real,” Jeffery says.