Crowdfunding is arguably one of the hottest phenomenons you’ll stumble upon these days. The possibility of getting an idea and project economically funded by so-called backers has really turned the usual process of traditional entrepreneurship upside down. Today, all you need is a great idea – and your project is now only a few clicks away from financial funding. A lot of digital platforms have surfaced with the sole purpose of presenting these ideas to an increasingly growing, hungry audience. The most familiar crowdfunding platform is probably Kickstarter. Known to have an impressively wide range of promising ideas just waiting to be realized, Kickstarter is one of the Majors in the crowdfunding business. Despite its relatively young age, Kickstarter has been distributing a lot of fantastic stories since its genesis in 2009. One of the many fantastic stories is the story of two Danish brothers, who wanted to bring surfing into the height of hands. May we introduce you to Fingersurfing. On a sunny Monday, we met with Toke and Regner Lotz for a chat about surfing, being a Kickstarter success and driving your parents crazy.
How long have you been surfing and when did the idea of FingerSurfing emerge? Regner: We started out in the Promised Land, and I believe we were 16 and 10 years old. Toke: We got introduced to surfing on a family trip to Kauaii on Hawaii. At the time being, We lived in Berkeley, and went on a holiday to Hawaii with our parents. What started out to be a “typical” family holiday, with lots to see and do, turned out to be a pure surf vacation where Regner and me splashed around in the water with surfboards for more than 8 hours a day. From that moment on Toke and me were hooked on surfing. I believe you become hooked on surfing the second you catch a wave and manage to go with it. From that very moment, surfing now occupies 20 % of your life. If not more. But when we moved back to Denmark a problem emerged. We didn’t really know about any possibilities of surfing, and all we really wanted was to experience the feeling we had of surfing in Hawaii. Proper beaches, warm water and weather. Oh, and bikinis. After endless hours of road tripping, impatiently pursuing this particular surf feeling in different parts of the world, we started to surf with our fingers on pea pods out the window.
Where do you surf in Denmark?
Actually in Hvide Sande, and not in Klitmøller as we’ve come to known as quite the surfing experience in Denmark. In our video pitch on Kickstarter we, faulty, stated that surfing options and facilities weren’t really present in Denmark. Very briefly after presenting our pitch on Kickstarter, a couple of guys wrote to us and informed us that we actually have quite nice facilities for surfing in Klitmøller [situated in the north of Jutland]. They invited us on a surfing trip in Denmark, and a week after inviting us, we found ourselves surfing in Denmark. Such good fun! What brands are you inspired by? Toke: Wow, there’s quite a lot. But we’re definitely into brands like Billabong, Quicksilver and Volcom. From a cinematic and graphic point of view, we really like the style Quicksilver is bringing to the table. But we also find great inspiration in the way Volcom is marketing themselves. Volcom has a great way of interacting and communicating with their customers and audience. We’re actually also looking into doing something similar with Fingersurfing. As we’re slowly starting to distribute our Finger Surfboards in the wide world, we would like our fellow-surfers to upload videos of them doing new tricks and showing off skills, or just share experiences of their encounter with Fingersurfing.
What are your backgrounds? Regner: From a very early start, we made it very hard for our parents to love us. I quit my studies at political science to attend an art school. After art school I attended the Danish Ad School, and eventually I went to Miami Ad School, which was totally the right thing for me. I was quite happy to attend the Danish Ad School, but I always felt like there was more to it. Toke: I have also found my way in the creative environment. I’ve been doing a lot of theatre, and after high school I attended musical schools, a movie school and I’ve also been working at an ad agency as a piccolo to scratch the surface of the business. After a quick detour at studies within marketing management, I got in at the Danish School of Media and Journalism. This education is primary meant for Art Direction, but they also strive to challenge the way you are being creative and combine it with entrepreneurship, which is right up my alley.
Could you tell us a little about what kind of preparations your success on Kickstarter acquired?
Well, from the very start, we’ve been quite determined that we wouldn’t put ourselves on Kickstarter with a project where we didn’t have a realistic estimate of what kind of economically funding we needed – so we did a very thorough research, and we’ve probably talked to more than a 100 production factories about the costs of starting up a possible production of finger surfboards. We wanted to make sure that we had every possible expense covered in the process of making a finger surfboard. The process was very enlightening for us, and we really liked getting into every little aspect of designing and crafting surfboards for your hand. When all comes down to one, Fingersurfing isn’t just a board. It’s also wrapping, a string to secure the board, stickers, wax and a dust bag. So obviously there is a lot of different aspects you constantly need to take into consideration. TOKE: Oh, and besides all the preparations you need to get in on, you’ll also have to step it up a notch. You get another image after being funded. You’re undergoing the transformation from being “hypothetical” to an actual project that has economically funding to realize the project. Now, people are expecting things to happen. So we’re definitely trying to be so efficient as possible. From time to time it’s quite chaotic. But when we struggle with a problem, we usually quite quick find the solution. Overall, we both find it extremely nice to learn things as the project evolves.
Who does what in the Finger Surfers project? We haven’t really had the chance of working together on a project like this before, so we haven’t yet decided on “regular” tasks in projects. Very much learning by doing. But I guess you can say that Toke has been very much involved in the communication with the Kickstarter users on Facebook etc., while I have involved myself in Fingersurfings graphic expression.
When it comes to the actual production, who does the hard work?
Toke:It’s me. Haha, I do the hard work. In the very early beginning I started crafting finger surfboards in our apartment, but as the project developed I soon realized that I needed to find an actual workshop where I could craft the finger surfboard. I asked on the social media, and I was quite lucky. I have a friend who literally lives just around the corner from me and Regner’s apartment, and I managed to get myself a workshop in his building’s basement. I used to do it the hard way, but a breakthrough in the production phase has actually very recently surfaced. I spoke with my uncle, whom is educated within organ building. Generally he has a lot of experience working as a joiner, and he introduced me to a method that lets you bend wood in almost any shape desirable by steaming it. To obtain this kind of knowledge was a huge help, and the process of crafting wooden finger surfboards is now much more efficient.
What kind of feedback have you been given, except for money?
Regner: The positive response we’ve been met with has been overwhelming to say the least. Besides the funding we’ve been entrusted with, we’ve learned to know a lot of new people who are all happy with our project. Both through backers on Kickstarter, but we’ve also been contacted by people who just think that the whole idea of Fingersurfing is a fantastic idea. Recently we were contacted by the TV network, CBS [Columbia Broadcasting System], who stumbled upon our project on Kickstarter and wanted to do an interview with us. We’ve also been contacted by hostels around the world, inviting us to stay at their facilities and test their surrounding’s possibilities for fingersurfing.
What are your plans for the following months?
We’re really putting a lot of effort into crafting finger surfboards to all of our backers. It’s nearly 400 boards we need to have done, and this will probably occupy a lot of our time the forthcoming months. Furthermore, we’ve actually also had the chance of speaking at the Danish School of Media and Journalism. We held a presentation about our Kickstarter project, where we made it very clear that if you work hard, you can go very, very far with your idea within a week. We received great response on that presentation, and would very much to get out there and tell our story and encourage like-minded entrepreneurs to follow their dreams.
Fingersurfing video-pitch to Kickstarter