Lessons on innovation and crowdfunding from Magnic Light
Dirk Strothmann is a creative engineer who cares for the environment. His invention – a contactless dynamo – make your bike rides smother, smarter and greener! We talked to Dirk about his bright idea, how to leverage crowdfunding in your ventures and his plans to expand smart bike lights worldwide.
1. What was your inspiration to create Magnic Light?
Magnic Light is born from the collision of two passions of mine: science and cycling.
It all began when I was experimenting with magnets in my garage. I realised that I could apply the physics of magnetic induction to the wheels of my bike to create a contactless dynamo light. This would mean no wheel contact, no cables and no batteries. A product that respects the environment and improves the cycling experience. This was my "eureka" moment. My first question was not IF I should try to produce it, but HOW I should go about it. Crowdfunding was one of the answers.
2. What are your tips for companies seeking crowdfunding for the first time?
My first experience with crowdfunding was also an experiment. There are big advantages in terms of the size of the audience you can reach and the possibility of raising the funds you need quickly. But there are also risks to presenting your product and goals so publicly.
Here is what I learned:
- Be vigilant
Crowdfunding sites can be a magnet for copycats! Check if you can protect your idea before you take the plunge. Applying for a utility model is cheap and gives you 12 months before investing much more money in a worldwide PCT application. We did the crowdfunding within these 12 months.
- Test the water
Present your idea on a platform like Facebook, test the feedback and take it on board. Don't start your campaign without a sufficient basis of support.
- Set a realistic funding goal
Make sure you are able to deliver the promised rewards with the minimum funding money you ask for. Many campaigns set a very low funding goal to attract backers, but need much money for production.
3. The company has moved fast since meeting the Enterprise Europe Network in 2017: what has been the biggest learning on your journey so far?
As a start-up it’s impossible to be the expert on every subject and do everything on your own with a limited budget. The key is to find the right people who can help you.
The Network helped us to build this infrastructure of contacts. Through brokerage events we’ve been able to find reliable external partners who have technical knowledge and development facilities. The Network has also been able to help with legal and regulatory advice and put us in touch with the IPR Helpdesk.
Although we are happy to take advice from the experts, we’re still keen to keep learning and we are proud to have discovered new prototyping and media tools which we have learned to handle ourselves.
Magnic Light has worked with the Enterprise Europe Network partner ZENIT in Mülheim, Germany.