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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Black Out Friday!


This is the time, in our little corner of the world anyway, where our families re-connect, giving thanks and spreading gratitude while engorging on a feast of large birds, potatoes and green bean casserole. A tradition that ends in full bellies, leftover turkey sandwiches and the onslaught of the Holiday shopping season. 

Of course, the biggest tradition of the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend is what retailers refer to as Black Friday. Maybe you’ve heard of this? 

Black Friday dates back to the late 19th Century, and was considered the day where retailers were able to use the day’s huge receipts as a way to “get in the black” and become profitable for the year. Unfortunately, through the years, Black Friday has also become known as the day of the year in which you’re most likely to be punched while grabbing for the latest hot new toy, or trampled in an effort to reach the last five big screen TV’s that are selling for $50. 

We certainly don’t wish that kind of shopping chaos on our faithful Geek Out and Geek Pulse backers or friends, so we decided to spread the Geek love with a fun little “Black Out” Friday promotion that will help you earn Geek Gear, gives you continued discounts and keeps you safe from large mobs of insane people. 

You can find out more about our Special Reward on our Indiegogo Campaign

From all of us at Light Harmonic, we wish your families a Happy Thanksgiving and a safe start to the Holiday shopping season! 

Keep peace on earth, and good will toward men, and stay out of Walmart!  


Cheers!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Geek Pulse - First Measurements

For those of you following our Geek Pulse Indiegogo Campaign, you might be interested in this first round of measurements on this new desktop DAC/headphone amp.

If you want to join the discussion about Geek Pulse, I invite you to join Geek Force over at LHLabs.com.
Signal to Noise Ratio

THD+N Ratio (-0dB)

FFT Spectrum Monitor (-10dB)
FFT Spectrum Monitor (-20dB)

Monday, November 18, 2013

How We Hacked Kickstarter, Part 1

Since our successful Kickstarter campaign, many people have asked me, "How did you do it?"  Well, I'm going to attempt to answer that question now.

The first thing you need to know about running a Kickstarter campaign is that you need a good team.  You can't do it alone and succeed.  So go through the old Rolodex and choose your players.  Choose them wisely, you're going to lean on them heavily.  In my case, my team was already built-in because we're already a company.  We have Larry, the engineer, Kim, the master of getting things done, Bill, the guy who knows everyone, and me, the man with the plan.

It's hard to believe that on our first time out, we ran a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised $303,061 in 30 days.   It's both remarkable and dome-rocking that the campaign got so much support!  Since there's a lot to cover, I'm going to break it up into a few different posts.

By the way, right now we're in the middle of an Indiegogo campaign that has raised $286,353 and has 32 days to go.  I think we've stumbled onto something remarkable.  Check it out!

Step 1 - Write Your Business Plan
We launched our campaign on August 13, 2013.  We started planning it back in October of 2012.  We actually started implementing parts of our plan in March 13, 2013-- five months before we launched.  I can't stress this enough.  Plan.

Plan your campaign the way you'd plan building a business, or a separate business unit within your business.  Follow a basic business plan template.
  • Executive summary - Who are you and why do you have the qualifications to offer your idea to Kickstarter.  Why would anyone trust you with their money?
  • Business concept - What is your product and how is it special?  Be very specific.
  • The Market - You need to understand your market.  Since you decided to launch your idea on Kickstarter, Kickstarter is your market. Get to know all the individual components of a campaign.  Ask yourself, what makes someone click the pledge button?
  • The Financials - Backers want to know what you're going to use the money for.  They want to know what pitfalls might get in your way.  Basically, they want to know that their money is well spent and that the likelihood of actually receiving their reward is high.

Step 2 - The Four P's
This is really an extension of The Market part of your business plan, but it's important enough to talk about it separately.

The Four P's, sometimes known as the marketing min, are a set of tools that you can use to gain an advantage in the marketplace.  They are: Product, Price, Place, Promotion.

Product
What are you offering and why is it so darn great?   To find the answer to the last part of that question, I suggest you go to Kickstarter and search for products that have been launched there that are similar to yours.  When we were trying to answer this question, we found two products that were in our same category that had tried to get crowdfunding.  One succeeded, the other didn't.  This discovery led to more questions.  Why did this one succeed?  Why did that one fail?  Is our product better than either of these?  Will people who backed these projects be likely to back ours?  Why or why not?  You need to have good answers to all of these questions.

Price
In my opinion, Kickstarter is the best place for market research there is.  One of the hardest things to do in business is to price your product right.  To learn what the market would bear, we offered a graduated scale of rewards.

We planned on offering our product at $299 retail.  In our research we found that Kickstarter backers typically want about 30% off of retail in order to consider backing a project.  After all, they'll have to wait a long period of time before they actually receive the product.  So we worked backwards from our MSRP and created rewards for the same item at different prices.  As we went down the scale, we made less of that reward available.  This way, we'd know when we'd hit the ceiling on what people would be willing spend on our product
  • $159 - Unlimited available
  • $139 - 500 available
  • $119 - 200 available
  • $99 - 100 available

Note: We didn't do this right at the start of the campaign.  Our biggest sin was making too many reward levels.  We started out with 7 levels.  After analyzing what others had done, we pared it down to four.  In most successful campaigns, there should be three graduated levels at most.  We're really bucking the trend here and we won't make this mistake again.  I don't suggest you follow our lead on this one.  Stick with what has worked for other campaigns.

About two weeks into the campaign, we added two more reward levels for upgraded versions of our Geek.  If our plan had been perfect, we would have included these options in the beginning.  We learned as we went along that, even after almost a year of planning, the plan needed to evolve.
  •  $219 (Unlimited) - 120% more amplification
  • $189 (Unlimited) - 60% more amplification
$219 is about 30% off our MSRP, which, as I said, is where we want to be. It turned out that this price is acceptable to our audience, based on sales results.  So an MSRP of $299 is in the ballpark.

Place
Obviously, the place is Kickstarter, right?  But where in Kickstarter?  We placed our Geek in the Technology - Hardware section.  But that isn't the best place.  We were forced into that place because we didn't have a finished enclosure for our product when the campaign began.  We wanted to be in the Design - Product Design area.  This is the area that gets the most traffic when it comes to hardware.

Your product may not be hardware like ours.  Do some research and try to find the best place for it.  Each section comes with its own set of rules and guidelines, so choose carefully.

Promote
This is hard!  In fact, I think I'll give it its own step.  And that will be the entire subject of my next blog post.  Until then!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Geek and Android Devices

In case you missed the update on our Kickstarter campaign, Geek is Android compatible.  Well, sort of.

This is a new realm for us.  As an MFI certified company, we've mainly focused our R&D in Apple's operating systems.  Honestly, we didn't think about Android at all until backers of our campaign started asking about it.

After a little research into just how large the Android market share is, Larry and I did an obligatory facepalm and started to work figuring out how to implement Geek on Android devices.  With many devices, such as the Samsung Galaxy S3, Geek works right out of the box!  That's not the case on all devices, though.

We found a couple of very good resources to help you figure out if your Android device will easily connect with Geek.  Here's the list:

Saturday, September 7, 2013

I May Have a Serious Problem

Don't panic.  When I say I may have a serious problem, I mean that I think I've become addicted to Kickstarter!  Last night, after I had answered some Kickstarter messages, I started surfing around the site to see if there were any new projects that might tickle my fancy.  I ended up backing 25 more projects!  Seriously, I think Kickstarter is my favorite website ever.  If you want to see the whole list of projects I've backed, check out my profile.

Here are some of my favorite projects:

The Easy-Macro Smartphone Lens - This one is seriously brilliant.  It's a simple lens that attaches to any smartphone that makes it easy to take close-up pics.  And the guys behind it, Adam and Alex, are quick to respond and update their backers.  I'm impressed with the product and the people.  That's why I backed it!

Ping Wallet - The world's thinnest, smartest wallet - Earlier this year, I changed my lifestyle and went vegan.  Since that time, I've been looking for something to replace my old leather wallet.  I think this is it.  It's made from aluminum, and comes with all sorts of smart features that will make my life easier.  I backed it, and I think you should check it out, too.

eleMount : Premium Mount / Stand for iPhone, iPad, Android - I have a teeny-tiny car.  There's no place to charge my cell phone except on the passenger seat.  The happy/sad news is that there's hardly ever anyone sitting there-- my wife hates my car so much!  This product is going to make my car just a little more practical, which is why I backed the project.  Not practical enough for Kimberly to like it, though.  :)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Geek Connected to iPad

Here's the good news.  Because you asked, we connected Geek up to an Pad using a "camera kit."  It worked!

Here's the bad news: Geek draws too much power, so you'll have to use an external power source.  See those little wires?  That's what we did.  But there are plenty of after-market USB battery packs.  Choose one, and you're good to go.

video


GEEK vs. the Others, v2

Before you get into the nitty-gritty, I want to restate that the two competitors to which we compare Geek are very good products.  I'm not publishing the following measurements to break them down, rather to compare so that you, if you're not one of the lucky ones who have actually heard Geek, may try to figure out what it sounds like.

Okay, here goes.

Testing Environment: Audio Precision APx525 high bandwidth setting (90K range).  Each product was tested on the same Macbook pro (running on battery), with the same software (Audacity) using the same cable, and at the same location within 20 minutes of each other.

To be fair, we only used a sampling rate of 96 kHz for each device under test because that's as high as one of them can go.

AudioQuest Dragonfly
Calculated output impedance: 5.9Ω





Maximum Output Voltage




Signal to Noise Ratio


Total Harmonic Distortion plus Noise Ratio



Fast Fourier Transform Spectrum Monitor at Maximum Voltage Output


 
Fast Fourier Transform Spectrum Monitor at -20 dB Voltage Output from Maximum







Meridian Explorer
 Calculated output impedance: 4.7Ω



 
Maximum Output Voltage






Signal to Noise Ratio




 
Total Harmonic Distortion plus Noise Ratio




Fast Fourier Transform Spectrum Monitor at Maximum Voltage Output



Fast Fourier Transform Spectrum Monitor at -20 dB Voltage Output from Maximum


Geek
 Calculated output impedance: 0.47Ω





Maximum Output Voltage



Signal to Noise Ratio















Total Harmonic Distortion plus Noise Ratio



Fast Fourier Transform Spectrum Monitor at Maximum Voltage Output



Fast Fourier Transform Spectrum Monitor at -20 dB Voltage Output from Maximum



Please check out our Kickstarter campaign!