One benefit of running a successful Kickstarter campaign for a solar pool cleaner is the worldwide exposure your company and product receives. While attracting financial backers and early adopters is the prime motivation for launching a crowdfunding initiative, it also leads to creative business partnerships promoting further growth and expansion.
Take Solar Pool Technologies (SPT) and Solar Blue Australia for example. SBA is an Australian based Distribution company directed by David Evans. Evans became intrigued with the Solar-Breeze NX, a next generation solar-powered pool cleaning robot developed by Arizona-based SPT, during their Kickstarter campaign in the summer of 2015. SPT launched a $315,000 Kickstarter campaign to fund the initial production of the Solar-Breeze NX, exceeding their goal by raising $408,078 from 758 backers from all over the world.
Thinking Globally for the Solar Pool Cleaner
With production and fulfillment of the Kickstarter units successfully completed, SPT CEO Paul Sim began to think globally. In late 2015, the SPT team began to look for a partner in Australia, which is home to approximately 1.4 million pools (about the same size as the California pool market). The goal? Partner with a company that provides warehousing, basic order fulfillment, customer service and warranty repairs. “The Australian market could be several thousand units a year for us as we grow and build the business,” Sim speculates. “We hope reaching customers on the other side of the world will also allow our product sales to grow from a more seasonal cycle here in the States to a steady, year-round volume. Certainly the market is there for it, and we see it as a great opportunity to expand our base.”
Meanwhile in Australia…
Down-under, Evans had his eye on the solar pool cleaner the Solar-Breeze NX following their success on Kickstarter. “We know the pool industry in Australia is huge and increasing at an amazing rate,” says Evans. “Customers want smart, cool pool products and are prepared to invest in them to maximize their pool investment – both in dollars and lifestyle.”
He admits to falling in love with the unique value proposition of the Solar-Breeze NX. “I was definitely attracted to the solar, power-saving and sustainable angle, combined with the very cool robotic functions.” Our solar pool cleaner encourages pool owners to focus on “swim time” rather than “skim time” by putting the robotic unit to work removing debris from the surface of the pool virtually around the clock. Continual solar-powered surface skimming cuts pump running time dramatically, while reducing decay, bacteria and algae growth in the pool.
SBA Team Has it Covered
Although new to the pool industry, the Solar Blue Australia team specializes in customized, one-product marketing and distribution in Australia. Over the past 10 years, Evans has successfully grown the distribution for another unknown startup in his home country, the Space Commander Basement Storage Unit. “These basement and parking space storage units are a great product, but had some of the same start up issues as the Solar Breeze NX. Need was there, but people didn’t even know they existed,” he explains.
After a slow but steady start, with hundreds of hours of work invested before seeing results, the message started to get out and sales began to snowball. Once Australians knew what was available in this niche area, they embraced it and ran with it. Now ten years later, Evans reports that Space Commander “over-car-bonnet” basement storage units are in over 15,000 car spaces Australia wide. “Launching Space Commander and indeed Solar-Breeze NX has many similarities. Each is a totally new concept in their field, an unknown product to the general market, and a top end quality product in a field with many lower-end, poor quality options and imitations,” Evans says. “Over time, the quality and the benefits of these products will break through and become trusted household names within their niche fields,” he predicts.
“We provide a one-product focus in a distribution industry where 100-300 product lines are often marketed and distributed by one company. It’s about providing SPT and their solar pool cleaner with a local face to the USA name through our local office, people, warehousing and service facilities. Small yes, but experienced enough in other business ventures within Australia to give the product the time and focus it deserves,” Evans says.
Evans and his team are confident they can promote and distribute the innovative product in Australia. Sim and the SPT team took the plunge, shipping 370 solar pool cleaner robots to Solar Blue Australia. From experience, Evans knows Australian consumers prefer having local contacts when purchasing. “They are not as keen to just jump online and order sight unseen, or without having access to local service and delivery,” he says. “It is a bigger ticket item for many customers, and we are finding that they love to talk directly to an Australian contact.”
The Solar-Breeze NX is being marketed in Australia through a dedicated Australian product website, along with online retail outlet Australian EBay. The joint venture includes a coordinated marketing campaign using social media platforms, industry publications, online and print advertising, and SEO. The language barrier that exists in some international ventures is not an issue in this partnership, but there are distinct cultural and style cues that are essential in marketing to the Australian market. Solar Blue Australia provides a unique slant in wording and style, designed to appeal to Australian consumers across all outlets.
Another key element of the Australian distribution initiative is establishing b2b relationships with potential retailers, dealers and channel partners as a part of SPT’s long-term plan. Solar Blue Australia is perfectly positioned to serve as the local manufacturing representative for the Solar Breeze NX. Evans’ enthusiasm for the new venture is evident as he shares, “Solar Breeze NX is a hidden treasure at this stage here in Australia. We are ready to shine a light on this cool, new, solar, robotic product in the very near future as we continue to put our plans into action.”