Last week Scoutee scored over $53,000 on Kickstarter! The Slovenians from Eleven's 8th batch developed the world's first smart speed radar for baseball and sold over 340 pieces in a month. While they keep getting pre-orders from all over the world, we asked Majda, co-founder and CMO, to share some insights from Scoutee's crowdfunding experience.
Congratulations for killing it on Kickstarter, Majda! Please tell us more about Scoutee and the story behind it.
Scoutee was envisioned by Miha Uhan. He fell in love with baseball years ago when he and his parents visited relatives in Ohio and went to a baseball game. Upon his return to Slovenia, Miha asked his father to find him a baseball team in their country. They did and Miha became actively involved in baseball for 10 years and also became a member of the Slovenian National Baseball Team and one of the best pitchers in this part of Europe. He wanted to make baseball his career, but since baseball is so underdeveloped in Europe and Slovenia, he had no tools to keep track of his statistics and monitor his progress. Therefore, he had no data to show to US coaches and be able to go to play for a college in the States.
Years later, after he was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug he realized that just like him years ago, there are still millions of young players worldwide who lack affordable and intuitive tools to record their stats and expose their talent so the idea of Scoutee was born.
How is Scoutee better than the existing solutions? Which is your biggest competitor?
Scoutee is a holistic solution that allows aspiring baseball pitchers as well as athletes in other ball sports, to measure the speed of their pitching, save other parameters of the pitch, record the video of their technique and save all this data. They can access months of training data right on their phone and share it with coaches and scouts worldwide.
Our biggest competitors are existing radar guns that are able to measure the speed of the ball accurately and from a great distance but are not able to provide more extensive analytics, export, and sharing of the data.
In short – Scoutee is smarter, smaller, more intuitive and more affordable than any other existing solution on the market.
Many founders are struggling to form a well-rounded team around their idea, and it seems that with you, it worked like a charm. How did you get so passionate about baseball gadgets?
When timing for an idea is right, everything comes to place, and so did everything with the formation of our core team. We don't all have to be passionate about baseball, it is enough that people who are experts in their respective fields are excited and dedicated to contributing the best of their expertise to the project. If everyone is devoted to giving his or her best, then big things can come to life. Also, one has to remember that Scoutee can be used in many other ball sports as well, so it is essentially not only about baseball but also about connecting a device that has previously not been connected. So, it’s the Internet of things at its best. And it’s actually not that hard to get someone excited about creating the world’s first connected speed radar gun. We are, after all, creating a product category with Scoutee and it’s an exciting ride, of which many people from different areas of expertise did and would still like to be part of.
Why did you go for crowdfunding?
At first, we weren't quite sure if crowdfunding was the best choice for us. But after we thought about it, we realized that going on Kickstarter would be a great way to test the market, to see if there is any interest in our solution, but also to enter the global market with one simple step. With our campaign, we got our initial traction and got pre-orders from all over the world - not only from the USA, where baseball is big but also from Europe and countries like Taiwan and Japan. Also, going through Kickstarter helped us get some great press coverage, which turned out really important. If we didn’t go through Kickstarter, we would most certainly not be as newsworthy.
How long did it take you to prepare the campaign and launch it?
It took us about a month to prepare all the materials for the campaign (the video, the product photos, the texts for the campaign...), but we also wanted to have our new web page ready for the campaign, so we were working on this also in the months before that. Apart from that, we were simultaneously working on the development of the physical product (we are a hardware company after all), which had to be shown in the video and product photos, which also took us at least about a month to finalize.
Which was the hardest part of creating the campaign?
The most interesting thing about a good campaign is that it all seems so perfect together, once it's done, but it takes hours and hours of painstaking work to make it look professional and credible. The biggest challenge for us was to make a great video because the video and the story in it have to be persuasive and interesting enough. We spent a lot of time on perfecting the movie script with the film crew. Also, it is very tough to successfully coordinate all the activities before the campaign due to the sheer fact that it is just so much going on. We used a lot of post-its and walls during the months prior to campaign :)
Where are you going to produce the next batch of Scoutees?
We're going to produce the first batch of Scoutees in Slovenia, where we can control the production and the quality of the first batch. As we are dealing with the measurement technology, the reliability of the first batch of devices is crucial for the further success of our startup, so we need to make sure we minimize all the risk factors and closely follow and oversee every single step in the production process.
Why do you think only 36% of the Kickstarter projects reach their goal? What are the most common mistakes?
According to our experience, the crowdfunding arena has become very saturated, so if a team cannot invest a lot of resources (money, time) into the promotion or is not fully committed to the campaign, it is hard to reach the goal. The rest (64%) of the campaigns probably try to do it when “moonlighting” (still having their primary job), which might be one of the reasons why so many campaigns fail. Also, people probably pay tons of money to different “agencies” that approach them during their campaign and think these agencies will solve all of their problems. This is most probably not the case in the majority of the cases.
We went into this campaign with the "all in" approach, which paid off. We worked hard to get amazing press coverage and we found the most efficient way to communicate with our audience, so we didn't stop until we reached our goal. Once we received the initial responses from our customers, which were amazing, we knew we were on the right track and that we just had to keep going. We thought of nothing else but Kickstarter during that time.
What is your "unfair advantage" that helped you stay focused and reach your goal?
Our "unfair advantage" is full commitment to the campaign, complete, uncompromised dedication to the goal. We knew how important stepping stone the campaign is in the life of our startup and in our personal lives as entrepreneurs, so for a month and a half we lived and breathed the campaign and it paid off. Also, it really helped to have a great team of experts, including a great designer and to cooperate with a great photographer and a great movie crew, who all performed their job perfectly.
We have to emphasize we're also very fortunate to be a part of great Eleven community, who, throughout the campaign offered endless advice and support to help us reach our goal.
Baseball isn’t exactly the most popular sport in Europe. Are you planning to move to the US or another target market in the future?
We knew from day 1 that Europe is not our initial target market. Apart from the US and Canada, baseball is a number one sport in Japan, and one of the most important sports in Taiwan, South Korea and most of the countries in Central America. So we definitely plan to expand with our solution into other geographical regions.
We've already received many pre-orders from these countries during our Kickstarter campaign. However, baseball is just the beginning, since ball speed is important in so many other sports as well, such as soccer, cricket, golf, tennis, volleyball, handball, lacrosse, hockey, badminton, skiing ... People from many of these sports reached out and told us how much they need Scoutee for their training, some even bought Scoutee to measure the speed of the cars in their neighborhood. For us, baseball is just the beginning; there is a world of opportunities for Scoutee out there. The Kickstarter campaign really opened many doors for us.
Many thanks to Majda and greetings from the Eleven crew! You can still pre-order your Scoutee here http://scoutee.co/