Windcatcher Case Study
Ryan Frayne is a Portland-based entrepreneur and inventor. After experiencing frustration with manually inflating items such as camping pads, he developed rapid-inflation technology, Windcatcher. With the Windcatcher valve, no pumping or power is involved. The user simply blows into the valve and their breath is amplified ten-fold. Windcatcher pulls in surrounding air, expediting the inflation process. Basically, you can attach it to inflatables that used to require powered pumps or an hour of heavy breathing and swearing, and inflate them in seconds with just a few short breaths. It’s pretty cool. Ryan knew there was a market for Windcatcher but, as with most entrepreneurs, he understood getting the word out could be a challenge. So, he turned to video.
“I knew from focus groups that once people saw it in action, it would sell… Sounded easy, but was a bit more difficult…” says Ryan of his initial feelings about producing a video.
- Produce a video for use in a Kickstarter campaign to raise $50,000 in 30 days. The money they hoped to raise would be put toward the production of prototypes.
- Eventually, they also hoped to license the Windcatcher technology to other companies that produce inflatable products.
Ryan and his business partner Rob shot their basic demonstration video with an iPhone and edited it with iMovie, which is free software that comes on Mac computers. They spent $20 on a tripod, and that was about it.
Ryan describes the roadblocks of self-producing a video. “We had to use natural lighting. Most was shot outside, which was challenging. We ended up re-shooting the tent scene indoors so we could get better quality. We used a laptop to record the sound separately. A single iPhone will not get great audio, even from only a few feet away. It’s pretty easy to sync the tracks in iMovie. We had to shoot outside … and I thought that if it was sunny it would be a good time to shoot, but it turned out to be terrible. We ended up shooting again when it was overcast, and it looked much better.” Despite his challenges with creating and then recreating the video, Ryan encourages others read blogs, watch tutorials, and try it on their own first.
After producing and editing the video, they posted it to their Kickstarter page, website, and YouTube. Their campaign included several e-mails, social media posts, and a few video updates. It was wildly successful! It wasn’t long before they created an enthusiastic following. The video popped up on camping blogs, technology and entrepreneur pages, and related industry publications.
- Ryan and Rob far-surpassed their goal of $50K in 30 days, raising $149K through Kickstarter, $26K on the Windcatcher website, and selling an additional $10K to GrandST.com. They produced 1800 units of the first Air Pad and sold out shortly after the Kickstarter campaign was completed.
- They also succeeded in accomplishing their second goal of licensing their product to other companies, gaining exclusive rights for manufacturing and selling product through a third party in Canada (Ryan was unable to disclose who). After experiencing the success of the Windcatcher AirPad though, they have shifted their focus to manufacture their own inflatable products with Windcatcher technology.
That Kickstarter campaign worked, in large part, thanks to the use of an inexpensive, yet incredibly informative video. Though he is understandably proud of his product, Ryan gives much of the credit for its success where due, “Without a demonstration, it’s tough to get people to believe it actually works.”