[S1,E17] “Sometimes we were really close to giving up” – How YC alumn Petcube became Kickstarter Kings, raised $3.8M and landed their product in Best Buy

Yaroslav Azhnyuk is a co-founder and CEO of Petcube – the first ever smart camera for pet owners that lets you watch, talk to, and play with your pet remotely from a smartphone. Founders come from Kiev, Ukraine, and this is where in 2012 they came up with the idea. Soon, they decided to go for a Kickstarter campaign and moved to China to work on manufacturing. Their Kickstarter campaign just blew out, ending with impressive $250,000!

Today, they are selling in Best Buy, Nordstrom and many other retail and online stores. However, things were not always so optimistic…

What’s the secret behind their great success on Kickstarter and how did they get so much press? Why did the company almost die right after the Kickstarter? How did they deal with so many pre orders? How and when did they start to get investors? When and how did they get to Y Combinator and what did YC help them with? How did they get the deal with Best Buy? What does Yaroslav think of the new competition coming in?

Watch the interview and get insights on incredible Petcube story!

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Here are some highlights from the interview:

  • Yaroslav and his team started from figuring out whether they are ready for taking the challenge:

    “It was a lot about mental readiness. ‘Are we sure that we want to spend next 5-10 years of our lives doing this and whatever it takes to do this?’”

  • Founders should always start with finding a way to validate their product before diving into building a company:

    “From day one we understood we would want to do a Kickstarter campaign that would validate if people really need it or not. This is the first step after someone comes with an idea, to validate if enough people want to have this thing.”

  • The preparations to getting ready for Kickstarter largely exceeded what they actually expected it would be:

    “Initially we thought it would take us 3-4 months to figure out how we’re going to make it and then we’d shoot a Kickstarter video and launch it. Eventually it took 14 months to launch a Kickstarter. It was really scary. Sometimes we were really close to giving up.”

  • Petcube had a delay in delivering Kickstarter awards which they were not very proud of:

    >“For someone, who hasn’t done mass manufacturing before, there is a lot of learning. There were 6 months of delay. It wasn’t the biggest delay in Kickstarter, but we were still very ashamed of that.”
  • Raising money from investors is not an easy thing and often it just doesn’t work out:

    “It was spring in 2014 and it was not successful. It was after Kickstarter and before we had to ship. We understood that we’re not going to ship on time so we had a tough moment in the life of the company.”

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    “You should never count on raising money from investors. You should always build your business in a way that there is some route to success without raising money from investors. That should only help you to accelerate.”


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