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How I Got Kickstarted: Interview with Zooka Speaker Bar Design Lead Patrick Triato

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In this brand spankin’ new mini-series we’ll be interviewing kickass individuals who lined up their targets successfully to launch their Kickstarter projects. In this first edition of the series, we’ll talk with Patrick Triato, Design Lead at Portland, Oregon-based Carbon Audio. Carbon Audio launched their Zooka Soundbar on Kickstarter and have since placed their product in the Apple Store…within 7 months of the first concept conversation. We’ll talk to Patrick about the ins and outs of getting the Zooka off the ground via crowdfunding.

SS: Could you tell us a little bit about your background and how that helped in creating your product?

PT: My background is in industrial design and mechanical engineering – working for large and small companies such as Rubbermaid, P+G, Amana, Little Tikes, Process 4, Spectrum and Masco. I’ve worked on everything from commercial appliances and mechanical units to housewares, toys and cutlery. Working for myself as well as these companies has really given me a vast horizon of materials, processes, tricks of the trade and valuable contacts.

SS: So did the idea of putting something on Kickstarter come up first, or was Kickstarter an afterthought after you realized there was a market for the Zooka?

PT: Kickstarter was a bridge fund, intended to get us up and running. The main thing we needed the kickstarter funds to do was covering the cost of making tools for mass production. The bonus of kickstarter is the press and marketing opportunities that come with a product that people are drawn to.

SS: How long did the process take from initial sketch to working prototype?

PT: We had initial sketches in November/December of 2011, in January 2012 we had refined renderings and an appearance model in a backpack, showing it around to key interested parties at CES. The feedback from CES confirmed the idea and got us all 110% behind the notion of the kickstarter campaign.

SS: How many people were on your team and how did you divide up responsibilities? How would you do it differently next time if at all?

PT: At the very beginning, it was just me, jason and carl. We quickly added our legal team, CEO, marketing and operations in a matter of weeks.

SS: For the campaign, did you guys outsource the development of the video or did you guys do it yourself (including branding/marketing and editing)?

PT: The campaign LOUDERER was done by Wieden+Kennedy’s 12 program ( www.wk12.com ) and the videos were done by the 12 and Kamp Grizzly. The kickstarter campaign video was done by Jayson and Zak of Juliet Zulu ( www.julietzulu.us )

SS: What length of time did you choose for your campaign and why? How soon did the project become successfully funded?

PT: We chose 45 days, mainly because of our schedules and wrapping up other projects. We chose 25k as our goal, we reached that goal in a week, but in retrospect, perhaps we should have made a more realistic goal for ourselves that would have actually paid for the entire tooling cost and shipping !

SS: How did you celebrate once you got funded?

PT: I recall that we left the office around 3pm and walked over to Rontoms for some horses nyeeecks

SS: How did you guys get involved with placing the product in the Apple Store?

PT: The apple store placing was though a contact of our CEO ( Mark Schneider ) through his previous career at Logitech

SS: Post-funding, would you say that the management side of distributing products has been difficult? Is there anything you would have done differently?

PT: Holy shit yes.

SS: What advice would you give for somebody pursuing a product design-based Kickstarter campaign?

PT: I would say set a goal that will get you MORE than funded at a minimum. They say that when you are dealing with a home improvement/construction project you should always budget for 10-20% above what you think the total will be. I would say extrapolate that by 10 in product design intended for a global retail presence.

To check out Zooka in more detail, be sure to check them out via their website or the Apple Store.

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About simon

Simon is a Brooklyn-based industrial designer and Managing Editor of EVD Media. When he finds the time to design, his focus is on helping startups develop branding and design solutions to realize their product design vision. In addition to his work at Nike and various other clients, he is the main reason anything gets done at EvD Media. He once wrestled an Alaskan alligator buzzard to the ground with his bare hands… to rescue Josh.

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