We had a chance to talk to Ashwin Kumar about their new invention, the Empowerment bottle and their exciting campaign on Indiegogo. Check out our Q&A session.
Hi Ashwin, please give us a brief background about yourself
I migrated from Fiji Island in 1999 with my family of two children and my wife. My qualification from Fiji is an Associates degree in business accounting and certified professional bookkeeper in USA. I have worked at small, mid and large size corporate businesses and also shared the pain of being laid off four times in the name of restructuring, downsizing, moving the corporate office and recession but we never lost living.
Where is Empowerment Bottle located?
We are located at Edmonds WA, USA
Do you have any social media accounts we can look you up at?
Yes we do. You can find us at Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/empowermentbottle, and LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/pub/ashwin-kumar/34/a60/964
What is the name of your campaign?
Empowerment Bottle – A water bottle with built in self defense tools: Emergency whistle,pepper spray and metal end handle. Self defense tools available to you when you need the most
Give us some description about your Empowerment Bottle and your campaign.
Every day, millions of people feel insecure walking in their own neighborhoods or going about their business. I am a King County Metro transit operator. One night, while I was driving my regular route, a female passenger disembarked and asked if I could wait there with the bus until she got to her car. It was only eight in the evening. Later, I saw a female university student run from my bus to her apartment. I drove slowly to be sure I could see her get home safely, but it didn’t seem like enough.
It really got me thinking. What is the world coming to if women can’t even feel safe enough to walk from a bus to their car?
We bus drivers deal with various safety concerns on our routes. All transit operators have at some point been thrust into a fearful situation where we have to protect our self and our passengers, but what about our passengers when they’re no longer on the bus? I wondered what I could do to provide people in transit with a protective tool that would make them feel safe, something they can carry with them easily—maybe something they already carry with them!
A water bottle instantly came to mind. People carry water bottles all the time—during exercise, hiking, going places alone, on their way home from work or to work, in their bags, or even by their side while sleeping.
Water bottles also help reduce the amount of waste people produce, making them better for our environment. So, I decided to design a fully functional water bottle with built-in tools for self-defense.
Ultimately, I want to give the gift of security and self-confidence to people who fear potential attackers after I discussed the idea with family members, friends, and coworkers, and, after receiving positive responses.
What is your campaign seeking to do?
The money raised from this campaign will be primarily put toward constructing a working prototype from my schematics and 3-D animation. Working with prototype maker to enhance my design and bring out the best product that delivers top quality of everything it is designed to offer.
When did you begin your campaign?
We began our campaign on March 23rd, 2014
When is your campaign scheduled to end?
We will end on May 10th, 2014
How many people have you so far attracted?
We are still in the marketing process and not much attracted. Had lots of viewers but seems it is not hitting the right target.
How much money are you seeking to collect at the end of your campaign?
We are seeking to collect $17,500
How do you reward those who contribute to your campaign?
There are nine tiers from which backers may choose. For $30, a backer gets an Empowerment Bottle with an expected delivery of October 2014.
Why did you select Indiegogo as your platform of choice as opposed to others?
It’s a reputable platform and have seen many successful funding and user/creator friendly
Does Indiegogo help you in any way with your campaign?
Not much now as I have to do aggressive marketing to rank high enough in their main page then more viewers will be able to view my campaign from the Indiegogo platform.
How do you pay Indiegogo for running your campaign on their platform?
4% commission if I meet my target funding and missing that would cost me 9%
How have you promoted your campaign?
Just did Facebook and now working with marketing team.
What have been most challenging about running your campaign?
I am not good at social networking and that is hitting me hard on this campaign. I need big help on this.
What has been most rewarding about your campaign?
I have created a product that is needed to remove the fear in every person who feels threatened of being attacked and if my campaign is successful we will see that happening in reality. Just watch the news, everyday thousands of people are attacked and when attacked we should have something with us that feels normal carrying in our hand but in an instant it also becomes a self-defense tool.
Any other information about your campaign or project you would like to tell us?
Yes, this product was born out of the real situation I witnessed and I will realize my dream and will take it end to end in this journey. By getting the funding, my work will become a lot easier but never the less, the product will be in the market in the near future.
You can view a brief Youtube video of Empowerment Bottle at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGW0aludjDU