Exploride has set a record in the crowdfunding history of Asian startups. The company’s Indiegogo campaign crossed the initial target of $100k in just five days, and has now reached a whopping $500k mark in 40 days of its launch.
Exploride’s campaign has been backed by 1,800 people from over 50 countries across the globe with maximum number of pledges coming from the USA. The product is priced at $299, and the Early Bird lot will be delivered worldwide in January 2016.
Exploride was started by Sunil Vallath in June 2015, after realising the urgent need of display alarm and safety devices for cars. As per his research, there were hardly any products that served the purpose; either they were too costly for common people or they lacked in quality measures.
Exploride is a futuristic hands free heads up display for cars controlled with gesture and voice control substituting the needs of multiple devices for maps, car infotainment systems and smartphones while driving. It is incubated by Startup Village, Kerala and had also raised a seed amount of $75K from Project Guerilla and other investors.
Interestingly, three more incubatees of Startup Village, Kerala had raised crowdfunding in the past year. Mindhelix raised $120k on Kickstarter for its smartphone security device Rico, SectorQube crossed its initial target and reached the mark of $125k for a smart microwave oven MAID and RHL Vision raised $200k for a wearable ring FIN in March 2014.
In addition to being the sole player in the Indian market, now Exploride is also the most successful crowdfunding campaign from India. We got in touch with Sunil to know more about his crowdfunding journey –
Inc42: Why did you chose crowdfunding instead of seeking funding from more investors or other traditional sources?
Sunil: Through crowdfunding we wanted to validate our product. Exploride has been accepted by over 50 countries. The campaign also helped us gain product and market validation. We received nearly 600 comments on Indiegogo and 4500 of personal mails, out of which we tried to reply to 99% of them. These feedbacks have helped us understand the customers better, like some US customers don’t prefer Google Maps, some prefer Waze. So now we are thinking about bringing those changes.
Inc42: Why Indiegogo and not any other crowdsourcing platform
Sunil: Exploride is a global product and to reach a global audience, we went for Indiegogo.We have received a stellar set of pledges, including countries like Thailand, Romania, Vietnam, Puerto Rico, Panama and more.
Inc42: Many crowdfunding campaigns face difficulty gaining traction. What was your approach to draw traction to the campaign.
Sunil: We started pre-launch campaign five months before the launch; reaching out to various blogs, newspapers and other marketing channels. Many companies start only a month before the launch. Pre-launch campaigns help you in building trust with the customer and to create a base of backers looking up to your product. One needs to educate the customers.
Also, the month and day of launch plays an important role. You have to see whether the market is doing good during that month. For example- in the US, people receive tax returns in the month of March, so it’s a good time to launch.
Inc42: Exploride received a lot of media mentions before, during and after the launch of your Indiegogo campaign. What do you attribute this to?
Sunil: This could also be brought down to starting early. We received such a response from media because the campaign was doing well. We were trending for 20 days of our campaign and that attracted media attention.
Inc42: What do you feel are the most common misconceptions with the crowdfunding process?
Sunil: One major misconception going around crowdfunding is that one needs to put personal money to make the campaign trend. You don’t have to do that, just start early with the pre-launch campaigns and you’ll have a good amount of backers to start with.
Another misconception is that huge PR campaigns are required for pre-launch, which is not true. We just had a $1000 PR campaign.
Inc42: Do you think without Indiegogo platform, it would have been difficult to get this kind of response for the product.
Sunil: Of course, crowdfunding is a very feasible way to reach such a diverse audience. Without Indiegogo, it would have been difficult to reach a base of 2 Mn people. We were in Indiegogo newsletter for three times and that had helped a lot.
Inc42: Now that you have got such an amazing response, what are your future plans?
Sunil: Now the focus is on manufacturing, we want to prove the world that India can build a top quality, global product without compromising on the feasibility.
Inc42: What advice would you give to other startups who are considering setting up a crowdfunding campaign?
Sunil: Keep interacting to your user. They will help you change for better. Also, it’s very difficult to deal in hardware, but don’t lose hope. Be positive!
Inc42: Do you see a trend of crowdfunding coming up in Indian ecosystem.
Sunil: Yes, it’s very much here. Recently, I’ve been in touch with 4-5 young startups, and they sound promising enough to raise $1Mn worth of crowdfunding. India is indeed eyeing a Hardware revolution.
With our Prime Minister stressing on Digital India and more young minds pulling off pathbreaking hardware innovations, crowdfunding is potentially the next trend of our startup ecosystem.