Crowdfunding Success Story: Sustainable Folding Dishware

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We’re featuring our favorite stories in crowdfunding so that you can see how other business owners reached their crowdfunding goals. Check out our first success story featuring Das Wafel Food Truck for more.

After looking around at the amount of disposable dishware discarded after local events, parties, and even camping outings, Oscar Fernandez felt dismay. An industrial designer, he decided there had to be a more efficient alternative.

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So he started thinking and developed a product he thought could be a viable solution to this problem. He knew that these alternatives, such as bowls and utensils, would need to be lightweight and take up little space if he wanted people to adopt the product. So Fernandez found a food-grade flat plastic that could be folded, origami style, into an eating set and set out to develop his new product, which he calls “Fold Project.” The plastic he uses is “stronger, lighter, and twenty times smaller” than your typical disposable dishware, says Fernandez. As a bonus, it is also totally recyclable.

Once used, dishes and utensils can be unfolded, cleaned, and stored flat, or refolded and used again. At launch, Fernandez’s initial Fold Project eating set consisted of a cup, bowl, fork, and spoon.

After designing and product testing the set, Fernandez, who is the director of Fold Project, researched manufacturing partners in his native New Zealand. Based on the cost of the initial production run, Fernandez established a crowdfunding campaign on CrowdSupply.com.

Bootstrapped video production

To promote the campaign, Fernandez shot a product video using tripods and his own digital camera, which he then edited himself and posted on Crowd Supply. He also created a Facebook fan page for the Fold Project and posted a link to the video. He added new posts every two days and gradually grew the number of likes on that page. Some of those likes then turned into investors in the project.

“As expected, there was initial excitement, a lull, and last-minute interest,” says Fernandez. “We were funded with three days left and superseded our goal of $2,000 by several hundred by the final day.”

But the choice to use crowdfunding was not just about getting the funding he needed, says Fernandez. “Crowdfunding allowed me to not only raise [launch] capital without interest, but provided market validation and gave me invaluable feedback and ideas for future products.”


Opting for the little guy

Although Fernandez could easily have chosen one of the more well-known funding platforms, such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo, he opted for a lesser-known site specifically because it wasn’t a major player. “The issue with larger crowdfunding platforms is that although these websites get so much traffic, they are starting to become saturated with more and more campaigns everyday. Basically, you have a higher chance of getting lost in the sheer numbers and run the risk of not getting funded at all,” he explains.

Says Fernandez: “Crowd Supply not only offered a product design-focused platform, but they offered tailored one-on-one help with marketing and promotion on their website itself, which made a very large contribution to getting funding in the first place.” The $2,410 Fold Project raised is being invested in setting up the company’s website, at www.foldproject.com, and funding initial production runs for its next round of products.

“I saw the smaller crowdfunding platform give me a higher chance of funding my little foldy dreams than one of the big boys,” he says.

Looking ahead, those foldy dreams include adding plenty more products to the line, starting with a salad bowl, lidded storage containers, and a stool.

For more information about crowdfunding your small business, check out our Business Owner’s Guide to Crowdfunding.

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