Measure of success
The business had reached its goal within an amazing seven minutes, ultimately raising more than US$13 million during an eight-week campaign which quickly became most successful campaign on Indiegogo ever.
With raising finance the single hardest challenge for private enterprise (especially with ‘new to market’ products), crowdfunding offers a ray of hope. But with many campaigns stalling, how do you build a movement behind your big idea?
If anyone was in a position to understand, it was the ABC, because as it turns out, the news was heart-stopping. Having launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo platform to raise seed funding for their “honey on tap” innovation which allows beekeepers to extract honey from hives without disturbing the bees, the original aim was to raise $100,000 and gain 70,000 email subscriptions.
As it turns out, the business had reached their goal within an astonishing seven minutes, ultimately raising more than US$13 million during an eight-week campaign which quickly became Indiegogo’s most successful campaign ever.
“The video we made was viewed over one million times within 30 hours of launch,” reveals Cedar, who adds it’s been viewed over one billion times to date. “So, as you can imagine, we suddenly became very busy.”
Adopting a crowd mentality
The “we” Cedar speaks of is Stuart Anderson, Cedar’s dad, and Flow Hive co-inventor, who admits he didn’t know much about crowdfunding when Cedar first raised the idea not long after they successfully drained their first 20ml of honey from a hive simply by turning a tap.
“We were both wary of investors in the traditional sense because we’d heard too many stories of inventors losing control of their innovations,” reveals Stuart. “And we had no business sense whatsoever so I just couldn’t see why venture capitalists would want to hand over millions to a couple of guys in regional NSW [the duo hail from Newrybar] with no previous experience in product development, manufacturing or international trade.”
Crowdfunding in agriculture hadn’t been attempted before, but it was certainly worth a shot.
For the Andersons, their “shot” involved attending information seminars and working their contacts with the explicit goal of having 1,000 names on an email list and 1,000 likes on Facebook before launch.
“To create an avalanche, you need a snowball and these names – people mostly from bee clubs and relevant associations – were our snowball,” says Cedar, who explains that having an interested and engaged audience already in place is vital before a campaign launch.
Tapping into a global concern
Integral to their success was to study the successes and failures of other campaigns.
“The amount of shaky phone footage I’ve seen on crowdfunding sites where the sound is out or you can’t see products clearly is astounding,” reveals Stuart, who estimates they put in six months of work into their campaign from beginning to end.
Enter Mirabai, Cedar’s filmmaker sister, who flew up every weekend from her adopted base of Melbourne to film a series of videos over the course of two months.
A “teaser” video simply showing honey pouring from a tap was released one week before campaign launch to the names they‘d collected to build interest. We didn‘t show how the product worked, we just said, ‘If you’d like to know more, drop us a line and we’ll tell you all about it,‘ says Cedar.
The “official” video not only touched on global concern for the welfare of bees, but also how the product puts an end to more time-consuming (and sometimes painful) methods of extracting honey from hives.
“It really was a case of right place, right time and right product,” says Cedar when asked to reflect on what set Flow Hive apart from other, less-successful campaigns. “Bees have been dying in huge numbers – particularly in the US – so there’s global concern for their welfare… and how cool is it to be able to turn a handle and get honey without disturbing a single one?”
From Newrybar to The New York Times
Although the Andersons had planned to travel and meet with news outlets to publicise their campaign (hence the ABC interview), they needn’t have bothered – all the major news outlets, from The New York Times to Washington Post came to them.
“I never even got around to posting the video on my personal page!” laughs Cedar.
Almost three years and 50,000 hive deliveries later, both father and son have had time to reflect on their journey thus far. Campaigns which are perhaps I a little too successful, aren’t without their own challenges, and the pair admit that with such a large number of orders, they didn’t make the initial nine-month delivery deadline – although they did get them all out within a year.
And while Cedar admits he no longer has time to dream and tinker, he says the benefits of working with his dad and making a positive impact on the welfare of bees more than makes up for it. It’s a way of thinking Stuart can’t help agree with.
“It’s great that our product has been so successful, but in all honestly, even if the idea for Flow Hive never went anywhere and it was just Cedar and l mucking around in the shed, that time with my son was always enough for me,” he says.