Move over Silent Partner, there’s a new gadget lighting up the crowdfunding world — and we’re huge fans! Hot off the press, and straight from crowdfunding’s favorite creative director Ran Cory (remember him? We dubbed him the Godfather of Advertising way back in October), comes YeCup 365. And it’s very, very clever.
This dandy little (or not so little, you can order it in a host of sizes) mug is pretty special. Controlled by an app on your phone, it doesn’t just keep your drink at the correct temperature; it sets the temperature. Well, actually, you do, and YeCup heats or cools your drink in response. It even sends a message to your phone when your beverage is ready to go. Didn’t we say it was clever?!
Having already smashed his original crowdfunding goal by more than 310% (313% when we went to press, but who’s counting?!), we thought it was high time we caught up with YeCup CEO and founder Vigen Sanahyan to discover what all the fuss is about.
“It was a long road to get here,” Vigen smiles ruefully when we congratulate him on his crowdfunding success. “YeCup is a real innovation — it heats and cools your drinks all day long, can charge your phone or tablet up to three times a day, and even plugs into your car. Try selling something so new to investors! We had a few hiccups.”
But they got there in the end. With a month still to go, YeCup has already raised over $90,000 and is rapidly selling out of units. “It’s been incredible.” Vigen agrees, “That’s why crowdfunding is such a fantastic platform. It’s given us lots of confidence in the demand for our product.”
Is that the only perk this seven-man team (and Ran) got from crowd financing? “Not at all!” Vigen is quick to put me right, “Crowdfunding helps you to evaluate the market, to discover consumer needs and preferences. You think you’ve created this awesome product.” He smiles, “But the crowd will soon tell you otherwise. The first YeCup campaign gave us some fantastic feedback — both good and bad — that helped to shape the product we have today.”
“It’s also a great place to launch your brand.” He continues, “We couldn’t have afforded the kind of exposure the Indiegogo campaign gave us. It brings a lot of new opportunities and connections that will be invaluable in the future. I think that, for a startup, this is the best way to get funding.”
Any advice for other startup innovators out there? “A good team behind you and money for advertising is critical.” Vigen hesitates, “But most important is a great idea. If your product is nonsense, all the PR in the world won’t help.”
While a lot of our campaigners rely on social media and email tools to drive their campaign success (check out our article with the fantastic Elena Mikhaylova for some top tips), Vigen and his team took a little different approach. “Email marketing and an excellent video are very helpful, but tech reviews were crucial for us.” He explains, “Because our project is so innovative, a lot of the technical publications were happy to write about it. It helped add to our credibility as a brand and increased confidence in our product. Backers don’t want to be part of another Coolest Cooler debacle.”
And social media? “We do use social media — we have thousands of followers on Twitter, and we constantly post updates on Facebook. We use a lot of the social media marketing tools, but it’s more of an extra. You can’t expect to generate the kind of interest you need using only social channels.”
It’s a great tip, and the followers of our Winner’s Program will know all about. But there’s something else that contributed to YeCup’s success as well. “That’s the secret to crowdfunding success.” Vigen tells me in a mock whisper, “You have to love what you do, otherwise you’ll never make it.”
If you love what Vigen and his team do, then head on over to Indiegogo. There’s still a month left to bag yourself 2016s hottest (we couldn’t resist) gadget for a fraction of the retail price. We’ll take two, please…