We had an interesting chat with Mr. “Ed Havens”, Founder (CMO) at the San Francisco – USA based start-up “crowdid”
Below is the interview we conducted with him:
1. What is it exactly that you do and what your start-up is all about?
crowdid is the first branded e-commerce platform exclusively selling previously crowdfunded products.
For consumers, crowdid is a destination to find and browse crowdfunded products exclusively For product creators, crowdid is a sales channel that is protected from multi-national corporations for the same eyeballs and that highlights their unique entrepreneurial histories.
2. When has your startup been founded? And what stage is your startup currently at?
I began working on crowdid in mid-2014. We launched the site in early 2015. We’re building our product portfolio in anticipation of marketing efforts as well as fundraising efforts.
3. What is your startup’s business model and how does it work?
Our model is simple. We’re an e-commerce platform. Uniquely though, because we are only selling previously crowdfunded products, we are able to design
our platform in a way that highlights the attributes unique to crowdfunded products. Essentially, along with normal product specs, we highlight the entrepreneurial background through video, narrative and image content. This differentiates crowdid from other e-retail platforms
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
I can’t wait to have a longer answer for this question. I am the sole founder and sole team member. I did outsource the product build, but I do everything else from start-to-finish. This can be tiring, but building a team is very consequential to your culture and viability, I’ve been cautious to jump into that quickly.
5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?
Unlike any other platform, crowdid gives the non-early adopters a taste of crowdfunding by highlighting the unique entrepreneurial histories behind these innovative products. No other e-commerce platform is built around this class of products.
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has your startup achieved so far?
Currently growth is being measured by our growing product portfolio. Once we reach our next milestone, which should be within a month or so, we’ll begin to spend time and money of marketing and advertising.
7. Who are your competitors? And what is your start-up’s competitive advantage over them?
Amazon of course. Competitive advantage: They’re big, slow and established. crowdid will never be as big as Amazon, but running around a giant isn’t that hard. Many others, but I believe our brand concept is strong and people can relate to it.
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
Everyday is an obstacle, especially as a non-tech Founder of a tech start up. Getting over the obstacles is pretty simple, you just need to execute and act towards those goals, everyday, all day. Be humble and ask for help whenever you need it. Learn and teach yourself, but when you know you need help, make sure you ask for it and get yourself to the next time.
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
The fact that a successful crowdfunding campaign has no – or very little – connection to the chances of your future success in building a company based on the product you just sold to hit a speculative monetary goal.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
At this point in my life I don’t really believe in the labels of success and failure. I’ll leave those labels to be applied by the naysayers and critics. All that I’ve done that others have called “failures” or “successes” has led me to now… Which is just another day to try harder.
11. If your startup succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
Art (film, music, books), Perishables (foods) and establishing a new crowdfunding campaign platform. Basically, we would like to get to a point where, if something’s been crowdfunded and it can be sold, then we’ll sell it.
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build your start-up based on?
Like many curious people, I have ideas all day long. Ideas are easy. Good ideas are more rare. Good ideas that also match the inventors skill set are rarer still. And, finally, good ideas that the inventor has the capability upon which to execute and for which the market is ready to digest are the rarest of all. I believe crowdid is of this latter group.
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
Working with product creators is very interesting. Because many come from outside the consumer products industry their choices don’t always make direct logical connection to economics. Another sales channel is a no brainer to Nike, but it isn’t so simple to a tiny company run by a creative.
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
If all goes well, six months from now our biggest problem will be hiring the right team members – the team and culture will be everything.
Beyond that, I do plan on large changes to the platform to be more and more customized to the unique DNA inherent in this new class of products.
15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?
The consumer gets increased transparency into the history of the product and the perspective of the product creator(s).
The product creator gets protected shelf space to avoid direct competition with the Mattels and Sonys of the world.
16. How did customers / users find out about you?
We are currently marketing by word-of-mouth and press from professionals such as yourselves. Once we gather some steam or get VC funding our marketing efforts will increase.
17. Who are your current customers / users? Who are your target customers / users?
Our customers are usually a little younger, because you sort of need a little knowledge of crowdfunding to understand the brand concept and value of crowdid. As of now, our average customer is male/female between 21-40 in age.
18. Where do new customers / users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?
Well, since we are still working on word-of-mouth the source of customers isn’t easy to trace. Once on crowdid, our prices are the same as anywhere else, but we offer more content about each product. We’re trying to create a more contextualized retail experience, even if it’s bound by the four corners of a screen.
19. What do your customers / users say about your product and/or service?
Everyone likes it. People are used to e-commerce so our creativity is bound by certain necessary elements. More importantly, people quickly understand the benefit of having a destination where they know that all their browsing will be of crowdfunded products.
20. How are you going to scale?
Scaling requires money. It’s possible that we could get traction and self-fund, but that’s also the riskiest, rollin’ the dice kind of play. We plan on a typical fundraising path to help us grow.
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?
Nothing has fleshed itself out too much in this area. We know that reviews and ratings will be important and we need a lot more users to grow this arm of the content. Although it’s only me speculating, I’d say ratings/reviews are currently a problem area.
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
We do plan to sell internationally. Luckily, being based in San Francisco, the tech hub of Earth, we have access to world class talent from all over the world. We expect to be able to recruit most of our talent from this amazing pool.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
The industry of crowdfunding is growing and will continue to grow. E-commerce is a solid and revenue generating business model. As a class, crowdfunded products will increase in number and people will continue to buy stuff for as long as their’s money to go round. If Zappos.com can reach a $1B valuation based on sneakers then I think it’s completely possible that crowdid can reach $1B as well.
24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?
We’ll definitely need to hire a team in the near future. At the moment we’re thinking about filling roles within engineering and social media. The exact title and required hours could be flexible right now, but these two areas need attention. Please feel free to email any resumes to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?
We are definitely open to partnership opportunities. And yes, we’re beginning to look for funding as well. Any interested investors and potential partners can reach me at email@example.com.
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
If you’re not following your passion then you’re living with an internal struggle. If you are following your passion than you’re living with an external struggle…Choose.
27. Finally, do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
Thank you for this opportunity, it’s been nice to reflect a bit. I hope that the readers get something worthwhile from this interview and, please, if anyone want to reach out for any reason at all, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org