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3 innovation lessons we can learn from Kickstarter’s record breaker

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The Coolest Cooler not only sounds cool, it is cool… Or at least that’s what over 62,000 people who backed it on Kickstarter think! On Friday, The Coolest broke the previous Kickstarter record with an incredible $13.3 million (after only asking for $50,000) pledged. At Brand Genetics we believe the innovation lessons we can learn are as cool as the product itself.

For Ryan Grepper, inventor of the Coolest, success didn’t happen overnight (sound familiar innovators?). In November 2013 his first prototype failed to garner the investment required (a goal of $125,000) and had to be withdrawn. Here are three innovation lessons we’ve taken from his journey from ‘failure’ to record breaker:

Lesson 1: Embrace ‘failure’ as a learning tool

When Grepper first failed to get investment he didn’t give up – instead he used it to help clearly define his idea. He fixed the prototype, made it even better than before, learning what didn’t work about the first and putting a more ‘finished’ prototype back into the community.

How can you and your organisation turn ‘failure’ into a more positive learning experience?

Lesson 2: Make it real to get real feedback

As Grepper told CBS News last month. “I learned that I needed to be further along in the design to really showcase my vision so I created a more advanced prototype”. The more what you are researching and testing resembles the ‘real-thing’ the richer and more informative the learnings. Techniques like preto-typing (or prototyping) – in essence ‘Faking it before you make it’ – help tap into real behavior and System 1 thinking, thereby helping you refine and improve your idea.

Can you find creative ways to make your idea real and test its core assumption?

Lesson 3: Understand what success looks like

Finally, the success of the Coolest teaches us the importance of understanding critical success factors for innovation. Grepper puts it more simply: “I learned it’s not best to launch a cooler when it’s cold out”. In short, start by figuring out what the key drivers of your idea’s future success will be and design your innovation and marketing around them.

Map out what your key drivers of success and failure are likely to be and figure out what this means for your idea?

With more and more innovation being ‘kick-started’ – from food, to gadgets, to, well, coolers – crowd funding sites are a valuable place to see what’s happening at the edges of the innovation world. It’s a chance to really spot emerging trends and see what makes successful ideas tick, not just in theory, but in practice.

Brand Genetics are pioneers of Crowdsight; a proprietary tool for analysing crowdfunding sites to identify emerging trends with real traction and apply the learnings to help brands innovate in more insightful, impactful, ways. 


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