Wesley Chang

August 3, 2017

How Cinder’s Crowdfunding Campaign Raised Over $500K

Hardware entrepreneurship involves much more than building a product and mass producing it. It’s filled with unknowns and challenges that can sometimes force a company crash but for most entrepreneurs, the real challenge is the fact that they’ve never done hardware before, they’ve never built a product and launched a successful company. But often times, when they combine their efforts with the knowledge and connections of experts, their chances of success increase exponentially. Let’s take Cinder for example, a company that SVV invested in and supported from the very start of their adventure.

Cinder, the company behind a precision countertop grill that can cook 3x faster than sous-vide, raised over $500,000 as of June 23rd on Indiegogo. In fact, they raised their initial goal in just a single day and continued to raise more than 8x that. They’ve even started shipping! But let’s talk about how they were able to pull off such a successful campaign and actually ship their product.

Crowdfunding success

Crowdfunding is often a hit and miss situation. Some entrepreneurs have the idea that just promoting a live Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign will make you reach your goal. However, that’s far from true. Crowdfunding takes patience, maintenance, and strategy. But with the right resources and the knowledge from the hardware experts at SVV and Arrow Electronics, Cinders campaign was more likely to succeed than most.

A story that demands desire and credibility

Prototyping and building a desirable product is a challenge all on its own. Writing about it and convincing people to want to buy the device is a totally different beast. Nonetheless, it’s a challenge that every hardware entrepreneur has to overcome.

Luckily for Cinder, this was more than achievable. Establishing credibility and justifying why their product is better than the competitions was easily doable with the amount of press received and demos performed.

Cinder did more than just sell the idea of a killer product, they portrayed a product that is loved and desired by major influencers in the food industry. In fact, Chef Kenji, a contributor to Serious Eats, “made the world’s best grilled cheese on Cinder,” and TechCrunch describe the meal made with Cinder as “heavenly.”

TechCrunch quote on Cinder

But behind the scenes, what really helped make this campaign so successful, was the services and guidance Cinder received from Arrow Electronics and SVV. This enabled Cinder to actually show their audience that the Cinder Grill is in fact a tangible product that’s ready to be shipped.

Behind the scenes of campaigning

Beyond sharing who loves the Cinder Grill and who has featured the company, they were able to ship in just less than a year with the help of SVV’s design for manufacturing acceleration. CEO, Eric Norman says,

“After graduating from YC in 2015, Cinder came to SVV for DFM acceleration, with SVV’s support Cinder powered through EVT to mass production. Cinder was able to ship within 10 months.”

As a result, they were able to share their entire journey from the evolution of the product all the way to physically packing a shipping container and delivering the grill.

SVV packing Cinder grills into container

In addition, Cinder was able to address and correct any technical issues during production quicker than usual. Most startups that partner with a CM often face language barriers, time-zone conflicts, and hardware complications. With SVV and Cinder working together, they were able to design the perfect countertop grill that was actually able to make it through the production line.

Cinder grills on the production line

On top of mass production, SVV also provided all the testing equipment, hardware engineers, and DFM experts that Cinder required to produce a quality product. Eric was even able to speak directly to the manufacturer owner to squash any problems found during the manufacturing process. And this goes without saying – we can all agree that being able to easily and efficiently communicate with your manufacturer is something that’ll make the entire production process a lot easier. The problem is actually being able to do so is a lot easier said than done.

In fact, this is something that the founder of HAXLR8R, Cyril Ebersweiler, mentions in the article, “The Lean Hardware Startup: From Prototype To Production,” Cyril says,

“Okay so you have the right components and you know your product can be made and assembled. Are you going to select the factory and handle the relationship yourself?

It’s easy to make excuses for this one: it’s complicated, it’s in China (or Mexico, or elsewhere), you don’t speak the language, it takes time.… And where to start? Overall, it is scary.

As a result, it is tempting to bring in a third party to handle the relationship with factories. Beyond reducing your margins, the problem is that those companies essentially end up doing both audit and consulting. You know the result of this.

You can’t do hardware for long not knowing anything about manufacturing. So while you might need advice to get started, there is an expertise in project management and quality control you need to grow to succeed in the long term.”

Aside from manufacturing and working with SVV, Cinder was also in partnership with Arrow Electronics. Indiegogo’s partner that helps startups certify their viability and engineering design feedback. Arrow not only provided Cinder with a 3rd opinion on viability but they also ran them through their Flash Funding program where Cinder won $75k!

Conclusion

Take advantage of your partnerships. If there’s anything that makes a campaign successful, it’s the advice that’s given from experts like Arrow Electronics. Not only that, but it’s also the relationship between your company and your hardware manufacturer. Chances are, your manufacturer wants your company to succeed just as much as you do.

Of course writing a killer campaign story and providing your audience with enough validation that your product is the best helps with success, but that’s only a third of the equation. Listen to your hardware incubator and listen to those who are experts in their field.

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