With leading business schools like Harvard, Boston College, Bentley, and Babson and a growing local crowdfunding community, Boston was a strong choice for our first FCBC event. As such, we partnered with Babson College, the top entrepreneurship school in the Boston area.
FCBC Boston brought together the brightest minds from Boston and beyond to inspire and educate the next generation of entrepreneurs. Attendees had the opportunity to network with innovators and discuss strategies for crowdfunding a product or idea in the US, Asia, and other regions.
Featured panelists were entrepreneurs with successful crowdfunding histories such as Shark Tank contestant and Rocketbook Co-Founder and CEO Joe Lemay; one of BETA Boston’s Top 25 Innovators Under 25 and Founder and CEO of Think Board Hanson Grant; as well as Red Dot Design winners and allocacoc co-founders Arthur Limpens and Yixia Jiang.
Moderator and Roundtable Advisor
Srividya (Sri) Kalyanaraman, Editor, BostInno
Sri is an Editor at BostInno, where she covers tech and entrepreneurship in Boston. She also works with management on editorial strategy/execution for AmericanInno.
Joe Lemay, Co-Founder and CEO, Rocketbook
In 2015, CEO Joe Lemay launched Rocketbook after a real-life snafu of forgetting the correct notebook for an important corporate meeting. With the help of co-founder Jake Epstein, he launched the Rocketbook Wave, the world’s first microwave-to-erase, cloud-connected notebook.
Since its launch, Rocketbook has developed a variety of reusable notebooks and products, raised over $6 million in various crowdfunding campaigns, and shipped over 1 million units. It is compatible with the free Rocketbook iOS and Android app and integrates with a variety of popular services such as Evernote, Dropbox, Slack, and Google Drive.
Hanson Grant, Founder and CEO, Think Board
Think Board initially started out on Hanson’s dorm room wall as a “stick-on whiteboard” to write down business ideas easily. A serial entrepreneur, Hanson’s successes have allowed him to be recognized by EO as one of the Top 25 Student Entrepreneurs in the US (2016) and by betaBoston as one of Boston’s Top 25 Innovators Under 25 (2015). A recent graduate of Babson College, Hanson is also an avid traveler.
Think Board creates dry erase films that turn any surface into a whiteboard. The company has been named the Top Collegiate Consumer Brand in the US (2016), the winner of Babson’s B.E.T.A Challenge (2015), and a finalist in MassChallenge (2015). Since its inception, Think Board has continuously seen over 100% annual growth with just 2 full-time employees.
Arthur Limpens, Co-Founder, allocacoc
Arthur Limpens created allocacoc right after graduating from the Delft University of Technology. Currently, he focuses on ensuring that design remains at allocacoc’s core. He was instrumental in setting up the DesignNest program and loves to share his experience in design as well as entrepreneurship with other designers worldwide.
Yixia Jiang, Co-Founder, allocacoc
Yixia Jiang focuses on the development of products, from the initial sketches to its final assembly. A true engineer, Yixia started pulling things apart from the age of 5. He studied Industrial Product Design at the Delft University of Technology.
Through partnership with We The People, allocacoc helps creators identify trusted global manufacturing companies and distribution channels to manage product development logistics and to launch their products in retail stores worldwide. Allocacoc focuses on the bottlenecks creators face when designing a product and how, through their own experience as designers, they can assist creators with getting their product market-ready.
Jake Duhaime, Public Relations, 3Doodler
Jake Duhaime handles all PR and Media Relations for 3Doodler. Under his leadership, 3Doodler has been featured on ABC News, The Today Show, Mashable, TechCrunch and many others. The company has also won several awards of distinction including Toy of the Year, the Academics’ Choice Awards and the Parents’ Choice Awards. Executives who have worked with Duhaime have been named to Fast Company’s 50 Most Creative People, Inc.’s 30 Under 30 and Bloomberg’s 25 Under 25 Awards as a result of brand building and positive earned media.
3Doodler is the world’s first and best-selling 3D printing pen, making creativity tangible through its range of pens and accessories. Founded in 2012 in Boston, the company raised $3.89 million on Kickstarter to support the production of the world’s first 3D printing pen. 3Doodler now makes products for all ages and skill levels whether for sketching, tracing shapes from templates or creating architectural models or entirely unique 3D structures. 3Doodler 3D pens and accessories are available online and in retail stores in more than 60 countries.
Jerry Spatch, Founder, Spatch Games
Jerry Spatch is a freestyle rapper and a current entrepreneurship major at Northeastern University. In April 2017, he created Vers: The Rap Game and launched it on Kickstarter, where it raised more than double its original funding goal within one month.
Vers is a freestyle rap-based card game where the players compete to see which can create the best freestyle rap. It uses a template system that makes it accessible to anyone. If you can read, you can rap with Vers.
Tom DeVesto, Audio Expert and Founder, Como Audio
Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame Legend and visionary Tom DeVesto has stayed true to a single-focused mission over the last 40 years: to bring new experiences to the consumer electronics market that enhance and improve upon expectations.
Throughout the years, Tom DeVesto has never lost sight of the goal: make a high quality product that supports the latest technology, is easy to use, has distinctive design, is space-efficient and doesn’t become obsolete. Millions of the products created by Tom DeVesto are used around the world today.
Nison Chan, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Purchasing & Brand Development, We The People
In 2016, Nison co-founded WTP with his close friends and fellow creators. At WTP, Nison is the Managing Director of Purchasing & Brand Management, and is responsible for new product acquisition and creator communication. He is also the Founder of Talking Toes, the world’s first socks with inspirational sayings printed on the toes (not many people know this, but he actually started Talking Toes to fund his surfboarding hobby).
Ryan Sim, Co-Founder of We The People
Ryan co-founded WTP with Nison Chan, Joel Liew, and Jay Kang in 2016 and functions as the Managing Director of Marketing and Business Development. In his role, Ryan manages and leads marketing strategies, messaging, and tactics for WTP. He is also the Co-Founder of Kisetsu, a maker of slim, stylish RFID-protected leather wallets, along with his childhood best friend Joel.
Working with creators and as a creator himself, Ryan has learned that the foundation of successful partnerships is communication and honesty. As he says in this American Express piece, “Face time is key. This builds trust and provides a good opportunity for high-level discussions. The benefits of this are simple—more trust. Trust means that you’ll have better access to stocks. It may even mean that you get priority. [But] there are no tricks. There are no fake personalities. You’ve just got to mean it.”
Quotes and Highlights
Joe Lemay, Rocketbook CEO, on why he chose crowdfunding to support his idea:
- “Even just to create inventory, we would have had to invest…close to $100,000. So, to get that money upfront and to use what was left over…to fund future inventory, now we were off to the races. We had an operation engine that didn’t need a cash injection.”
Joe Lemay on the keys to successful follow up crowdfunding campaigns:
- “…when we launched our next campaign, it was over $3.5 million. That was largely because we had done a great job of communicating, delivering an awesome product, and…didn’t pay attention to anyone else but our customers.”
Hanson Grant, Think Board CEO, on the importance of Kickstarter as an avenue to interact with audiences:
- “[Kickstarter] was our first time to engage with people through the comments, messages, and then post-campaign as well…. That’s the audience that becomes your advocate, that supports you, that wants to give you new ideas and wants to see you succeed.”
- “…the stepping stone into a lot of new markets. We thought [Think Board] was a dorm room product, but now our best two markets are offices and classrooms. And it wasn’t until after the Kickstarter that we started to realize the opportunity for different sizes, use cases…all of these different opportunities that really started coming from that feedback.”
Jake Duhaime, PR Director for 3Doodler, on how crowdfunding platforms can help you generate earned media for your product:
- “When you get into a Kickstarter product, you start with the idea and…consumers loving the idea. So when you bring something like a 3D pen…to market, no one’s seen or heard it before. People aren’t buying into a product: they’re buying into an idea. Futurism is a great media angle to sell and to generate interest because it hasn’t been seen or done before. …Elon Musk, Amazon, the biggest examples always play off of futurism.”
Yixia Jiang, allocacoc Co-Founder, on protecting your idea abroad:
- “One of the things is of course patents: you should register some patents, at least the design patent and model patent. Do it for Europe, America, and China, especially. Patent [registering] for China is quite quick, 1-2 months it will be registered. Register a trademark, think of a name because the imitators will copy your name as well. …Craft some things into your tooling so you know that the tooling is [yours]: we do double coating.”