Brad Munro, Owner, Willi Footwear
A unique product snags attention. A boring product does not.
Brad Munro says crowdfunding is most successful when you have the former—something innovative like Willi Footwear’s improved flip flops.
“The kind of people that are contributing to your crowdfunding campaign, especially if they’re buying a product, they’re doing so because they can’t buy it anywhere else,” he says. “They’re not going to jump on and grab something that they can go down to the shop and get, that’s just as good or the exact same thing.”
But they didn’t rely on their product’s uniqueness. By shoveling time into their campaign, both the preparation and execution, the team at Willi Footwear was able to integrate consistent messaging with outreach to people they knew, which earned them the money they needed to ensure the success of their fledgling company.
- Why Indiegogo might be a better platform for crowdfunders
- How to strike the right tone for your campaign video
- What connections you can immediately leverage to ensure your campaign is a success
- The elements behind a high-converting project page
- What you need to start planning for once you decide to start crowdfunding
Full Transcript of Podcast with Brad Munro
Nathan: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the “Foundr” podcast. My name is Nathan Chan. I’m the CEO and publisher of “Foundr Magazine,” and the host of this podcast. And I’m coming to you live from hometown, Melbourne, Australia. I hope you’re having a fantastic day. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your earbuds with me.
And, with this episode, you’re in for another treat. It’s the Crowdfunding Series Part 5 of 6, and we speak with Brad Munro. If you haven’t been following along, we are doing a crowdfunding campaign ourselves at “Foundr,” and we’ve released a coffee table book. It’s a coffee table business book. It’s got the best of our interviews all distilled into a beautifully designed coffee table book, super actionable with interviews with some of the greatest entrepreneurs of our generation like Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington, Seth Godin, Daymond John, so many more. And, we’re doing this Crowdfunding Series because I want to show you guys the behind the scenes of how we worked out how to build a successful crowdfunding campaign. And a lot of it is just speaking to people as you can see, and if you are following on live, we have from the date of the recording of this episode exactly one week to go for our crowdfunding campaign.
I’d love your support. I know you’re gonna absolutely love this book. If you enjoy this podcast, it’s going to be probably the best body of work we’ve ever produced at “Foundr” so far since we’ve started the business. So, if you wanna check it out, you can go to foundrmag.com/book. So, foundrmag.com/book. I’d love your support. I know you’re gonna love this book.
Now, let’s talk about today’s guest, Brad Munro. So Brad started a company all off the back of Indiegogo, a crowdfunding campaign, and it was called Willi Footwear. And pretty much, they produced thongs, you know, and these are flip flops. In Australia, we call them thongs. I know that might be a little weird, but… So, long story short, I actually got the chance to interview Brad over a year and a half ago during the time of his campaign. And it was really interesting to hear what was happening during the time period. And one of the biggest takeaways I had from him was to have an event, have a launch party which is exactly what we did when we launched the “Foundr Version 1.0” project on Kickstarter.
Massive takeaway, he’s got a whole ton more, and I know you’re gonna love this episode. And I hope that these episodes are inspiring you to want to do your own crowdfunding campaign. It’s a ton of fun. We’re learning so much. Make sure you go and check out what we’ve got going on behind the scenes, foundrmag.com/book. All right. That’s it for me, guys. Now, let’s jump into the show.
Are you able to tell me what was the biggest struggle with your campaign?
Brad: The biggest struggle, probably I think, like, sorta informing people about crowdfunding, and what it is, and how it works. I guess it’s relatively new here in Australia, so, you know, we’ve sort of found ourselves always needing to explain what crowdfunding is, and how it works, and, you know, just hear the whole basis of it, like, sort of the platform where you put up your idea, or project, or whatever you’re trying to raise money for, and, yeah, get the money raised, and through to, you know, to the production phase, and all that sort of thing.
Nathan: So when you say educating people, was that with your existing audience?
Brad: Yeah, just almost everyone really. A few people knew of it but a very small minority. It was sort of like our existing audience, you know, people that have, I guess, sort of bought products from us before. You know, even close friends and family didn’t really know what crowdfunding was. People had seen it reported in the news, but they really didn’t know too much about it, and how it worked. And, I think it’s…especially for something like us and any crowdfunding, I guess, it sort of speaks volumes when people are willing to part with their cash, you know, for a product or for something that they’re not gonna get for a few months. You know, everyone’s so impatient these days, whether it’s months or, you know, however long it takes to produce a product.
And, yeah, it was kind of pretty cool to sort of tell people what it is, and get them together to the site and have a look at a video, and, you know, checking out all the perks, and the different packs and things that you can get. So, it was mainly just the education thing of just informing people what it is and how it works.
Nathan: What’s your best recommendation, from your experience, with running a successful campaign on getting traffic to the page, and getting the campaign found?
Brad: Yeah, it’s a lot of work. You kinda have to have a plan in place, like have your, you know, wherever your marketing scene’s at. I guess make it… What we tried to do is make our video pretty lighthearted, like we’re a lighthearted business, anyway. You know, we’re sort of thongs and flip flops, so it’s not, you know, real serious sort of stuff. But, we wanted to make the video, I guess, kind of funny and lighthearted so that people would share it, and it’s something they could relate to, which is kind of how we the whole campaign of the No Blow Out which is the whole design of the thong as well as it being interchangeable. The No Blow Out thing, I guess, people can relate to because they’re always probably seeing someone that’s had a blowout or something like that. So, they can kinda remember that person they saw that tripped over or their friend. And, yeah, kinda sort of do it that way so that they’ll want to share it.
Then I guess, you know, there’s that much stuff out there on Facebook and on the internet these days that you’ve really gotta kind of stand out for people to share it.
Nathan: So you came up with a creative idea. Was there any, like, things that, like, really changed the game in terms of driving traffic? Like, any, like, influences you got in touch with or…?
Brad: I guess the press is a big one. You know, like, they can sort of… You’ve got your magazines, and whatever sort of media are out there, anyone can pay for an ad. You know what I mean? So, if a company or individual’s got enough money, you know, they can pay for a full-page ad or whatever and go to arms. So anyone can do that, but I guess to have, you know, some articles written about you and, you know, press releases go out. And I guess just kinda get the traction like that, that sort of helps. We’re on a lot of radio stations as well and, you know, they’d sort of post it on their Facebook page, and we found that then a lot of people…you know, the connections that we didn’t have, that’s sort of…they hear it, they’d go to the Facebook page, they’d tag their friends in it, and say, “Oh, you know, you had a blowout. You need a pair of these,” or whatever, and kinda go that way. So, the more media and press, I guess, you know, that always helps.
Nathan: Okay. And, I’m curious how do you get so much press. Like, do you have any tactics or strategies around that?
Brad: I guess, our strategy, we wanted to kinda create a bang. Like, we sort of thought the products, you know, it’s almost different enough to get a bit of press on its own, but we really had the strategy to really start with a bang. So, what we did, we kinda organized our close friends and family that had seen the samples, and had tried them on, and knew what we were doing. And, you know, we’d been through the process of explaining what crowdfunding was, and I sort of told them all, you know, “So, guys, we’re gonna launch at midday on whatever day. You know, if you are keen to sort of preorder, can you jump on and do it, you know, in the first day and sort of just get the ball rolling a bit?” And they all were like, “Yeah, that’s cool. No worries.”
And, I guess, yeah, they all seemed to jump on it straightaway, and then as soon as they shared it with their friends, and families, and other friends, we had sort of people jumping on. Like, in the first hour, we raised, like, over $10,000 which was amazing. Like, yeah, we knew we were gonna get probably, you know, a couple of thousand in there we thought we might get with everyone. But, yeah, it’s kind of like they showed their friends, and they said, “Yeah, can you jump on now?” It just happened so fast. That kind of got us in the media to start with, so that kinda really did…you know, to kick off with a bang, it really worked. It worked really well.
And I think on Indiegogo’s page, you know, they have sort of tips and stuff, and I think one of the things they said…I read it somewhere and I’m pretty sure it was from Indiegogo. They say, you know, you can have, like, a launch party type thing. So, you know, you get everyone over to your house and, you know, you show your video on the big screen or whatever, and you sit there with a laptop and everyone enters their details. And, you know, while it’s all happening, there’s little things like that you can do kinda to get the ball rolling.
Nathan: Yeah, that’s a really good one. I love that. Oh, okay, so you guys actually did have a launch party with all your close friends and family?
Brad: We didn’t sort of like so much as have a party, but we targeted a few close friends and family, and, you know, sent them…because you can preview the video in the link and everything out before it’s actually live. So we sort of did all that before we launched, so that when we launched, we didn’t have to go through all that sort of, you know, first process and then it was kinda like people are already jumping on. And then so, you know, they share it with their friends and stuff, and then they jumped on, and just a sorta snowball effect.
Nathan: I see. And, with a lot of the press features, were you trying to tee them up before you went live or after you went live?
Brad: I think I teed them up… I sort of organized a couple of press releases, but I think it was…when was it? I think it was after. It was that day. It was a very frantic sort of thing, because I sorta had a few, I guess, articles or press releases I’ve written. But, yeah, it kinda obviously needs to change because we didn’t know, you know, how many sales we’d get straightaway, didn’t know, you know, when we’d sort of launch exactly, all that sort of stuff. So, yeah, everything has to be, you know, planned; I guess like a good strategy and a good plan.
So, we had a press release ready to go, and then we obviously had to change it after the launch, and then it was sent out. And, you know, by that stage, we’d already had the ball rolling. We had, you know, a lot of friends ordering. I think we had a couple of stores ordering, and then, you know, once it sort of… I think it was The Financial Review that got hold of us first, and they wanted to do an interview.
Nathan: And they came to you?
Brad: Yeah, so they contacted Sam after they saw the press release. And it was sort of annoying because they did an interview which is great and, you know, they’re massive, “The Australian Financial Review” or whatever. But, they wanted it exclusive. So, at the same time, we started to have a few, like, once the word gets out a bit of other press, people are asking for interviews and things. And we couldn’t really do anything until the Financial Review went into publication which is a couple of days later. But that was actually a good print article. I think we were page 3 of “The Australian Financial Review,” and that really helped, you know what I mean? You know, the CEOs of the big surf companies, you know, store owners, the buyers, majority of them probably read the Financial Review.
Nathan: Oh, I see. And I’m curious. When you say that Financial Review wanted to make it exclusive, does that mean that you cannot talk to anyone else before they publish?
Brad: Yeah, that’s kind of what the go was. You know, it was I guess just to do an interview. Like, other media wrote about it. I think it was something in the “The Courier-Mail,” you know, but we couldn’t actually do an interview.
Nathan: Oh, okay. Interesting. And, you keep mentioning Sam. For those listening, Sam is a PR. She works for an agency, right?
Brad: Yep, yep. That’s correct. She works for a PR agency in Brisbane called TwoCents Group. I just contacted her. Actually, she contacted me a while ago just to find out, you know, if we’ve got anything coming up that we need, you know, PR for. And, I pretty much go back to her straightaway and said, “Yeah, I’m doing this crowdfunding campaign. You know, do you know about it?” I wasn’t even sure if she did, but luckily, she did, you know, so we kinda just nutted out a little plan and, yeah, went from there.
Nathan: Oh, wow. And would you highly recommend having an agent or engaging a PR company to help with the campaign?
Brad: Yeah, I would. I would. You sorta gotta, I guess, set your budget and, you know, you can go overboard. I think I’ve got a quote actually before I ended up speaking to Sam, and someone quoted me $4,500, you know, for doing, you know, just basically the work that I did. So, there are people out there that, you know, I don’t know, you can have. You’ve still gotta find someone that would do it, and, you know, Sam was perfect for us. And, you know, she was awesome. So, yeah, I definitely recommend it though. Like, you’ve gotta have someone that has those contacts. I could have sent out, you know, a press release to all the media all around Australia, but they don’t know me from a bar of soap, and they don’t know if, you know, I’m making it up. It’s not a credible source. You know, I’m not a professional PR person, so you kinda gotta have that person that has the connections, and knows what they’re doing, and, you know, can write it in a professional manner.
Nathan: Yeah. Okay, that’s really good advice. I’m curious what are key attributes for product/service that you’re trying to crowdfund that you think would successfully fund a project.
Brad: Yes, I think you’d have to, from our perspective, being a product or even a service, I guess you just… The thing that we’ve gone with and we go by with our company is, I guess, just being different, being something new and exciting, and something that people can’t really get anywhere else. I guess the kind of people that are buying, you know, that are contributing to your crowdfunding campaign, especially if they’re buying a product, they’re doing so because they can’t buy it anywhere else. And they’re not gonna jump on and grab something that they can go down the job and get, you know, that’s just as good or does the exact same thing. So, it’s just gotta be different and exciting, I guess.
Nathan: Okay, and how did you choose which platform to use?
Brad: I think there’s the Australian one which is Pozible. I’ve had a friend actually do something on there. I don’t know. I just kind of looked through Pozible, and I knew they are relatively new as well, because crowdfunding’s not as well known in Australia. You can sort of look at the totals and the most funded, and you kind of see who has the biggest network and all that sort of thing. So, the ones in Australia, obviously, aren’t that big, and there’s heaps of them out there now.
So, we looked at the States as well. I had a sort of friend over in the U.S. and Canada, and kind of wanted to get our product over there, and do a campaign, and stuff as well. So, I sort of looked at Indiegogo and Kickstarter which are the two big ones. And, yeah, we just sort of compared. I think Kickstarter actually might have a bigger database. I’m not sure. But Indiegogo just seemed easy to use. Like, both platforms had, like, a lot of followers and, you know, a lot of different options and all that sort of thing.
Indiegogo actually has…I’m not sure if Kickstarter does this, but Indiegogo has fixed funding and flexible funding. So this might be like a big thing for some people, because fixed funding, you know, so say your goal is $10,000. If you don’t get $10,000 in funding, you don’t get any money. So if you get really close, you know, I think at $9,500, you’re not gonna get it. But if you have flexible funding, and you get to $9,500, you can keep that money but you just pay a bigger percentage in fees so you can still put it towards your project.
So, you know, if you’re wanting to launch an album, for example, and you need 20,000 bucks, but, you know, 15,000 will help and you actually get 15,000 and you still get the 15,000, you don’t have to actually get to the 20,000 to have all the money, if that makes sense.
Nathan: Yes, 100%. That’s a great explanation, Brad. And, I’m curious. You talked a bit about planning. How long did you plan?
Brad: Well, months and months, I think. We tossed up the idea for ages. I actually had one of the guys, one of our team members that originally sort of helped with the design. He said, “You should look at this crowdfunding stuff,” and we sort of said, “Oh, yeah, what is it?” I had a look, and, “Oh, it looks great.” It almost looked too good to be true. So, like, these people are just gonna contribute to your campaign and preorder your products. They don’t know anything about it and whatever. And, yeah, it was like, “Oh, yeah, but I’m not sure.” So, we just kinda kept putting it off, and we tried a few other things. And then the more we looked at it, I was like, “Yeah, this is great. This is perfect for us.”
So, it was probably about, I don’t know, three months out that we actually started to plan it. Like, I sat down and actually did a script for the video, and worked out what we were gonna do, and then, like, sort of take a different direction. And, you know, we were sort of doing it part-time as well, so that probably added a bit of time to it, and then have to find someone that, you know, can do a professional video. Like, a lot of it, you can shoot yourself, but then someone needs to edit it. And just all the information under the campaign and putting all the packs together. And, you know, they say to include postage so, “Okay, well, it’s gotta include that.” So you gotta kinda, you know, work out your finances and make sure everything’s perfect before you launch.
Nathan: I see. And, I’m curious around sales copy. Like, because with the landing page, it’s like so crucial. You’ve gotta have strong copy. You’ve gotta have a sick video. You’ve gotta have really good, like, you know, explanations around what you get and stuff like that. Do you have any strategies or tactics that you would recommend?
Brad: I probably would just recommend to make a visual. Like you say, people go to that page straightaway. You know, there’s thousands of pages on there. You know, what makes yours stand out? You know, it’s just gotta be easy to read, easy to understand, and people are parting with their hard-earned cash, they wanna know exactly what they’re spending it on, exactly when they’re getting it, you know, all those sorts of things. Just be as clear and concise as possible. And, you know, nice, pretty pictures always help.
Nathan: So would you recommend getting an infographic made?
Brad: I would. Yeah, just for several things, you know what I mean? Like, we made an infographic for like the shipping, you know, just the timeframe, just to make it easy, so people can go, “Okay, well, you know, that’s happening now, that’s happening next week,” or whatever. And, the video is also important, you know, just for getting anything across. But obviously until they hit play on the video, you know, it’s just kind of that first screenshot which you can select, so you can choose, you know, what you want as, like, the video shots. So, make it something, I guess, interesting as well that kind of people will go, “Okay, I wanna know more about this. I’m gonna click on it.”
So I think on ours we had the guy that had the blowout, and he’s lying on the ground with his foot up in the air and the broken thong. So we sort of thought…you know, we showed a few different images to some people in and amongst their team. We kind of said, “Okay.” People are gonna look at that and say, “Well, hang on. What’s happened to him? Like, he’s obviously fallen over. How’d he get down there? What’s going on with his thong? What’s this all about?”
Nathan: Oh, yeah. That’s a good one. And, out of curiosity, how many people… Like, you said your team…like, how many in your team worked on this? Do you think it can be done by just a one-man show, or is it always a team?
Brad: Like, I did most of the work. You know what I mean? I guess, like, we have our team like our guys, our business partners, and stuff that, you know, we all run ideas together. Everything’s kind of a team effort but then, you know, like I said, if you get your PR person in, they’re gonna do that professional, you know, “I’ve got to the do the video and do a professional job.” You know, you do need someone pretty much full-time. That was my role just to manage it full-time because you’ll get slammed with emails of, you know, questions or people sort of wanting to… Well, hopefully, you know, we had people wanting to distribute our product in different places around the world. And, you know, some of them are genuine distributors, and other people are just kinda seeing what you’re about, and they try and sell you more things. And you’ve really got to be on it sort of all day long.
Nathan: Yeah, okay. So it sounds pretty full on once you get that traction, eh?
Brad: Yeah, yeah. It is. It’s good. It’s all good but you’d kinda have to manage it. You know, you have some media, some journalists, and people sort of coming at you. And then you have just, you know, people asking questions. And then you have some people place an order and they’ll want to change it, “When can I change my color or choose another size and all that sort of thing?” It’s important to have your sort of…you’ve got your FAQs in the bottom there, like your frequently asked questions. You know, kinda go through them and work out what they might be and try and answer them before people actually contact you.
Nathan: Look, we have to work towards wrapping up, man. This is great. You’ve given me so much stuff to work with. I’m curious. You mentioned you’ve got a lot of radio and stuff like that. Like, how did you do that? Was that through Sam, your PR person?
Brad: Yeah, pretty much. Like, I sort of have a list. So, I guess it comes down to, you know, your strategy at the beginning, and I wrote a big list of sort of media and stuff, like I know a guy that works at Nova radio in Brisbane. And, you know, it’s just all the connections. I guess, like, we probably had an advantage. I had a few connections before we started, and so it’s really about, you know, reaching out to all the connections that you possibly can, you know, without annoying them almost. I’m sure my friends are sick of me now. I just keep hitting them up, saying, “Hey, come on. Check out the campaign,” but you have to kinda just get it out there and remind them.
And, yeah, through the press release, you know, I said, “Okay, let’s hit on these radio stations,” and I guess a lot of the radio stations there in the Gold Coast, too, that I talked to. Like, a lot of them, you know, they just wear shorts and thongs to work as well because they’re not on camera. You know, so, a lot of them, you know, love their thongs. And, I don’t know, it just stemmed from there. It all helps with the medium and say jump on board.
And so, just to get back also to the infographic, you would have seen on ours…you sort of collate all the logos. So, all the radio, all the media, and stuff that we’re bringing, and you put the logos up. You know, so as seen or as featured in this magazine, you know, “Here’s the link to the article. Go and check it out.” And it just kinda helps spread the word.
Nathan: So, you’re constantly updating the page as time goes on.
Brad: Yep. Yeah, that’s correct. It’s gonna constantly update.
Nathan: Oh, awesome.
Brad: So I just touch with Indiegogo. You know, they send out a newsletter. So, we manage to get in there, and they have like a “trending now” page on their, like, landing page of their website. So the most popular projects show up. So, you know, if you can get in there, you know, you’re already in front of these sort of people that…they love their crowdfunding. They know what it’s all about. You don’t have to explain anything. And, you know, and it puts you right under their nose for all to see. But they’ve got some sort of algorithm, you know, that works to how many hits and how much traffic you get to your site, you know, to your campaign page, and that pushes you further and further up. But it’s very hard to do. I don’t even think we got on there. We might got on the trending page, but right down the bottom of it, you know, and then that was it. The peak, you know, of our sort of media attention. There’s others on there that have raised millions of dollars that are all on there.
Nathan: And when you said you got on the newsletter, was any strategies behind that?
Brad: Not really. I think it might have just been, you know, from a lot of the traffic that we were getting. And, I think the staff maybe… I’m not sure if it’s a staff pick or if it just goes on… You know, you get lots of traffic. Your product’s sort of different. It’s pretty cool. It’s sort of the right timing, and they just sorta choose you and put you on there.
Nathan: Man, look, I don’t have any more questions, but I was just gonna say this is really, really good. We’ve covered so much, and there’s so much here to work with. Was there anything else that you would like to share for anybody that wants to round a successful campaign and just blow it out of the water like you guys have?
Brad: Yeah. I think I might have covered everything, but there is a lot. Like, there’s things you can do. You know, you gotta sort of think outside the box. You know, you can run a referral competition as in you can get… So, under your video, there’s a little share button there. So, there’s a Facebook button, there’s an email button. You sort of point people in the direction, and they hit the share button. You know, you’ve got the backend of your page which has got, like, all your analytics and everything. So, it tells you, you know, how many visits you’re getting, and how much traffic you’re getting each day and all that sort of thing. And it shows referrals. So, you know, you can run a competition, you know, a referral competition where there might be a price for, you know, whoever refers the most people, and their names actually pop up at the back. And so it might say, you know, “Your name has referred 65 people, 20 of those people have contributed,” and it’ll show you how much. And so, you know, you can kinda see who’s kinda helping out.
Nathan: Can we just rewind for a second? So, this shareable stuff, I’m looking at it now. Is this actually built into Indiegogo, or is this custom [crosstalk 00:25:27]?
Brad: No, that’s built in. That’s built in. So where it says…under the video there where it’s got share, and email, and that sort of stuff. So, I think everyone has that. You know, that comes standard. It’s just a matter of using the tools that Indiegogo provides.
Nathan: And when you said a competition, so you actually ran a competition as well around getting people to share.
Brad: Yeah, it’s what I saw on, like, another successful project. It was actually one that I contributed to, and, you know, they sort of have a list of people. And they said, you know, these are the people that are weighing their referrals. It was one over in the States, and it was a free trip to San Francisco or something like that within America, so it wasn’t from Australia to America but it was a weekend in San Francisco or something like that. So, you know, they had, “Okay, this person had one, two, three, four. Who’s coming first, second, third, fourth?” And they sort of updated it every week or whatever. You know, you sort of see the people in the second and third, and then they start referring more people. And it kinda becomes a little competition in itself.
Nathan: Oh, wow. So, you had somewhere on the landing page…and I’m just reiterating for the audience. So, you had somewhere on the landing page “the more shares, you will win something.”
Brad: Not on the landing page. I didn’t, but what you can also do, and this is another great tool that Indiegogo have, on the page there, you’ll see where it says UPDATES. On the UPDATES page, basically if you’re running a campaign, you go to the update page, and you post a little update, and you put in a little image or whatever. That will automatically send an email to everyone that has already contributed to your campaign. So, we just sort of do it through that, let all these people who contributed and say, “Hey, if you wanna refer other people…”
Nathan: Oh, gotcha. So, yeah, I can see here you’ve got a leaderboard, because Indiegogo actually tracks who’s giving you more referrals, and then you keep that running, and that’ll encourage people. So you’ve got “Who wants to win return flights to Gold Coast this summer?”
Brad: Yep, that’s correct.
Nathan: Oh, wow. Man, that’s crazy.
Brad: Yep, it’s a full-time job. It’s kinda like stuff you can do.
Nathan: That’s gold, though. That’s really, really powerful.
Nathan: Oh, wow. Well, thank you so much, man. And, look, it’s so impressive. Like, I’m just blown away, and you’re still talking to us like a few hours a couple days left. So thank you for sparing your time.
Brad: Yep, no worries. Glad I could help.