Phillip Brand wanted to do something different. After working in the telecom industry for many years, the lifelong gamer decided to create accessories for a console he loved - and hasn’t looked back.
Today his company Satisfye, which makes premium accessories like the Pro Gaming Grip and Switch Case Classic, has expanded from an aspirational crowdfunding campaign to a home office to a full-fledged company that’s processed more than 60,000 orders to 83 countries worldwide.
We talked to the Satisfye founder and creator to discuss his company and get some of his personal advice for entrepreneurs.
Easyship: Hey Phillip - tell us a bit about yourself.
Phillip: I was successful in the telecom industry for years, but reached a ceiling where I couldn’t grow. So after leaving my old job, I decided to create a business where I could grow and be challenged. So during a stint of unemployment, I thought to create a SaaS startup, thus the name Satisfye.
For context, I’ve been a gamer my whole life. So with the Nintendo Switch growing in popularity and me working from home while creating my new company, I was afforded the opportunity to indulge in gaming and purchased some Switch products from Amazon.
This created the ‘aha’ moment most entrepreneurs come to. While playing during my off-hours, I realized how poor the quality of these products were and thought, why not design a better product by a gamer, with gamers in mind? This was a pivotal moment, I literally “switched,” pun intended, Satisfye from a Saas platform to the premium accessory company it is today.
I cashed out the remainder of my 401k and went all in. I invested in my first prototype and that’s where the journey begins.
Easyship: How did you get started in prototyping?
Phillip: Well, to be honest, it was all a game of relationships and luck. When I first started, I found a prototyping company in Fresno that took about a year to prototype my product, due to constant revisions trying to perfect ergonomics. However, with that company I lost both time and money, since the mold would have to be completely modified for injection molding. Next, I reached out to manufacturing contacts and was lucky to find a quality contact in China who was able to redo my 3D molding at one-fifth the price in two weeks.
Easyship: How did you succeed in attracting more than 30,000 backers on Kickstarter and Indiegogo?
Phillip: Well first and foremost, I want to be fully transparent; as with any aspiring creator, joining a crowdfunding platform is really two full time jobs and to succeed, having the right human capital is key.
By no means was I a crowdfunding expert, so I went to freelancing sites to look for an expert to support my upcoming campaign. My match was a guy named Simon, whom I found after I spent weeks interviewing. Although expert support didn’t come cheap, it was pivotal in assisting me in navigating the crowdfunding world. I actually went into debt to launch my Kickstarter campaign from providing high-quality videos to marketing creative and expert support.
Easyship: Wow, this was a huge risk for you, but it’s really paid off! Any tips for aspiring makers looking to run their own crowdfunding campaigns?
Phillip: First off, I’d say you have to be willing to lose money. I know it sounds cliche: “you have to lose money to make money.” But really for me, both Kickstarter and Indiegogo served as brand building and product validation platforms. When you exit either platform, you’ll have a brand and also an audience with a qualified customer email list. It’s all about building trust and communities.
Next, I’d reiterate that it’s extremely important to find someone experienced in crowdfunding and be willing to spend a lot of money on marketing. For example, Simon, my Kickstarter consultant, sits on the Satisfye board to this day, as he was not only pivotal to our success, but also has a thorough understanding of the creators community.
Lastly, it’s also important to build realistic timelines. For us, that meant molding our products before actually starting the Kickstarter campaign and working closely with our factories, even pre-crowdfunding. This way, there’s not a major gap between the end of your crowdfunding campaign and producing and ultimately shipping your product.
It’s important to understand that there are hiccups, but you need to persevere and to be resilient.
Easyship: Any surprises you didn't think about when achieving your fundraising goals?
Phillip: Similar to what I mentioned above, I didn’t realize that I’d basically make no money on Kickstarter. We raised $67,000 but ended up racking up $60,000 in debt to get there, including promotions, operations and human capital.
More importantly, I didn’t realize that post-Kickstarter is also a 24/7 hustle and grind. Your business can easily lose momentum and brand love, so it's really important to keep driving more traffic and eyeballs to it to stay relevant.
Easyship: What channels have been most effective in providing high growth?
Phillip: For us, we’ve found influencer marketing and YouTube to be really effective. Also, post-Kickstarter, we built not only an audience, but also a super hot qualified customer list - it’s become really our ‘golden list’ to build communities and advocates.
Easyship: What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Phillip: Take any negative feedback seriously.
Don’t get mad at customers who leave negative comments on your crowdfunding or YouTube page.
I talked to one of our more negative customers who was very annoyed with us, and with picking up the phone and talking to them, the human element helped. Calling your users helps turn these digital nay-sayers into a community of advocates or heroes, as we’d like to call them. What’s cool about this user story is that when we went on to announce a new product, this user turned out to be our first buyer!
Check out our Satisfye case study here!