CHARLOTTE — Charlotte-based Command Partners is the first agency anywhere to specialize in helping startups launch successful crowd-funding campaigns. Roy Morejon, president and founder of Command Partners, says “We’ve had great success doing these campaigns, more than 100 in the last four years. We’ve raised more than $15 million via crowdfunding platforms, typically Kickstarter or Indiegogo (http://www.indiegogo.com).
“ We’ve had great success with both. Kickstarter has a tech-oriented male audience, while Indiegogo is more focused on the artsy female.”
The company, which took 13 clients to CES earlier this year, uses such events as just part of its unique marketing mix. Last year it helped one of its clients, Decibullz grab the CES Innovation Award for its microwave moldable ear buds.
Morejon says that while it’s difficult to get the attention of 200,000 CES attendees, certain tactics do work at big tech events. “I know that stunt marketing and a lot of contests seem to work.” Booth babes, not so much, he says.
” A lot of it, he adds, “Is targeting people walking by, doing promotions before the campaign, and setting up meetings with potential buyers.”
It didn’t hurt that Decibullz already had samples of the ear buds users customize for a personal fit that the agency had made previously to send to journalist, who gave the product wide coverage. All that attention gave Decibulz buzz.
“We were able to raise six figures for the second version,” Morejon says.
Helped clients raise millions
Now only 34, Morejon, consulted for AOL, Microsoft, and Dell Computers before the age of 19, and has had triple-digit year-over-year growth at Command Partners since 2011, helping startups raise more than $80,000,000 via a variety of funding platforms, including crowdfunding. Founded in 2010, the company currently has 16 employees and is itself bootstrapped.
Morejon’s Raleigh-based friend, Camden, successfully launched her documentary about NC Craft Beers on Kickstarter, raising $1,169 more than its $10,000 goal.
The first secret of startup product success, Morejon says, “You want to see clients solving a problem immediately. Solve someone’s problem first. Do a lot of user testing and focus groups, is this the best solution.”
Crowdfunding, he says, “Allows you to test the market immediately, the color, features. The crowd tells you what it’s willing to pay for. That lets you make your product better going ahead. You can fail faster. I tell startups, don’t be afraid to fail. What do you need to do differently? This allows you to find out more quickly.”
The company managed to help Texas startup Bunch O Balloons, a way to fill multiple water balloons from a hose, raise $929,160 – quite a leap from its $10,000 goal. It got Bunch O Balloons featured on The Today Show, Good Morning America, Buzzfeed, Mashable, Time, Yahoo News, Huffington Post, Business Insider, Wired, Gadget Review, Gizmodo, CNN Money and other national media.
“When it came to us, no one knew about it, it had no social following and we worked with them 90 days before launch. We raised $1 million in 30 days and got him on the Today Show where he had a water balloon fight with Carson Daly. We got the attention of the largest toy maker in the world and it licensed the product.”
It achieved similar media coverage for Decibullz.
Charlotte a “Unique city”
The agency also helps these startups beef up their social media campaigns. “Social is a great way to amplify your message,” Morejon notes. “Anytime you get a third party to verify you and say, ‘That’s cool,’ it’s unbiased. So we always look to let other people tell the story.”
While nearly all of Command Partner’s clients are located out of the area, Morejon is active in the Charlotte business community. He is co-founder of the Search Engine Marketing Association, and regional chair of the Business Marketing Association of North and South Carolina.
“Charlotte is a unique city,” Morejon says. “I’ve been here 15 years and saw it grow. We work with mentoring entrepreneurs at schools (Davison, UNC-Charlotte). We spur these kids on and let them know crowdfunding is out there.”