Travel sneaker brand Tropicfeel is one of the most crowdfunded brands in history. The brand's first product Monsoon was launched last year and raised over US$3M through crowdfunding. Here we ask founder Alberto Espinós to discuss Australian strategy, funding and expansion.

Why did the brand decide to pursue crowdfunding as an investment avenue?

Our aim is to disrupt the way people engage with the fashion industry, and as a collaborative brand we use the power of crowdfunding to build a travel community with backers from around the globe. There are several reasons as to why we’ve chosen crowdfunding platforms.

• Involving our community in the research, design and development of our gear. Our audience chooses the next product they want us to develop, they get involved in ideation of new features all the way to the colours we chose and the type of laces they want.

• Freedom to craft our own path without the influence of investors and the so common rounds of investments that focus on quick growth rather than quality growth. We use people to people collaboration.

• Streamline production processes with a pre-order approach, which provides an alternative to fast fashion and the problems originated with unsold stock.

What were the key strategies in securing such a record breaking $3M capital raise?

It’s all about being able to bring a unique concept onto Kickstarter and respond to a consumer need. For us it was about answering the need of travelers with a unique product proposition. The main tips we believe are mandatory to be successful on crowdfunding are:

Product is the most important. Talk about the features of your product as people have never heard before. That gives you the wow effect.

Communication is crucial. We really believe in the power of audiovisual, GIF, and images to convey your product features. More than plain words.

Show who is behind the project and the reason for fundraising! It’s really important, as nowadays there could be scammers on crowdfunding! People are willing to back a group of people who dreams not only about a product and that who are crowdfunding to share that dream with the world. So make them part of some important decisions.

Effort- fully dedications!

It’s important to offer the best service during the campaign and to drive traffic. But it’s as important as understanding how Kickstarter works to make sure you plan the best strategy! Something it’s mandatory is the pre-campaign

What will the funding go towards?

The funding goes mainly towards the production and shipment of the sneakers.

What percentage of sales are to the Australian market? Do you hope to grow this and how?

Australia is our 7th largest market and we hope to grow our market share. Our brand awareness is low and we intend to grow through Australian based backers who advocate for our brand, as well as through brand collaborations such as the Australian Marine Conservation Society. Tropicfeel is donating 1% of our sales to conservation projects and AMCS has been chosen by our community. We are also exploring brand collaborations with people and brands that provide an opportunity to build our community.

What's the most popular selling colour in Australia?

All black.

Are there more female or male customers?

60% males and 40% females.

What are your future plans for the shoes in the Australasian region?

We are actively selling Monsoon on our website and by end of August we’ll begin the pre-sale of Canyon too. Our main approach is on the crowdfunding and e-commerce channels, and any physical distribution will come at a later stage.

The Monsoons can be worn into water as well as for long hikes. The shoe is odorless, quick-dry, and manufactured sustainably with materials such as recycled plastic bottles.

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