A lot has been written about crowdfunding, but few companies have had campaigns as bumpy as Ambi Labs. A Hong Kong-based startup, the company’s flagship product is Ambi Climate, a connected device that automatically controls one’s home air conditioner. Ambi Climate originally launched a crowdfunding campaign on StarHub’s Crowdtivate, but failed spectacularly. The company bounced back and its current on-going second attempt at crowdfunding reached its funding goal in nine hours. It’s now en route to raise US$100,000 – four times their target amount.
Since hardware startups require a lot of upfront investment, crowdfunding is a great way to pre-sell products along the way while continuing development and production.
For the Ambi Labs team, crowdfunding was an obvious route. But after looking at international crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, they were fearful of being drowned out by other projects on those popular sites. Lee and team did not think that Ambi Climate would have a strong global appeal, and there was a real need to show validation in Asia, their market of choice. Their key question was, “How do we engage with the Asian consumer?”
That’s where Crowdivate came in. Crowdtivate is co-managed by Singapore-based telco, StarHub, and its partner, Crowdonomic, Singapore-based crowdfunding site.
While a crowdfunding campaign typically takes two to three months to set up, Ambi Labs only had four weeks to plan for a campaign to coincide with the launch of Crowdtivate itself. As the most successful campaigns have a lot of marketing done prior to the launch, this meant that Ambi Labs had a much shorter timeline.
Ambi Labs launched on Crowdtivate and barely made 34% of its targeted US$40,000 at closing. Lee shared that while pageviews for the YouTube video were high, conversion wasn’t.
After this first failed attempt at crowdfunding, Ambi Labs decided to try again, but this time on Kickstarter. The team was determined to apply lessons learnt from their first go. They redid all the copy and even made a new video – “almost nothing was carried over,” said Lee. They also had to abide by Kickstarter’s bundling rules, offer different tiers of rewards, and do more outreach on social media.
Ambi Labs doubled their spending on a video – the team shelled out US$5,000 on the first video for Crowdtivate, and US$10,000 for the one on Kickstarter. This investment paid off, as the second video had 1.5 times the number of views as the first. While conversion on Crowdtivate was only 0.1-0.2 percent, they saw around 0.5-1 percent this time around. Ambi Climate’s Kickstarter campaign also got an additional push when it was chosen as a staff pick.
Even though Kickstarter is a global-facing platform, Ambi Labs still managed to effectively reach its target customer segment in Asia. 60 percent of the backers of their Kickstarter hail from Asia-Pacific, while 20 percent reside in the US.
As present, Ambi Labs has raised almost US$90,000 – well over its targeted US$5,000 – and it still 20 days left to go.