Franziska Mesche: Crowdfunding Journey and why she started Tripulse

This is me & why I started Tripulse

Hi, my name is Franziska, an impact entrepreneur on a mission to revolutionise the activewear industry for our planet, people and health.

I’ve been a sports and training enthusiast for all my life – strongly believing in the positive power that movement has on our physical and mental wellbeing and that can help us overcome any challenge. Movement releases endorphins and makes us happy, it heals us, it unites us. It has helped me so many times overcome any personal and physical challenges in my life and has taught me the lesson of perseverance, to not give up and to become a bit better every time. 

I also strongly care about our home planet and our health. With the years I’ve become much more conscious about what I consume and what I put in and on my body – and the wider impact it has on our planet and society. Once I started researching and looking into the details, there was no turning back and I could not ignore the facts. Every product we consume has an impact on ourselves and the planet, sadly many of them a negative one. But the good news is – we can do something about it. 

5 years ago I took a sabbatical in Asia to take a break from my consulting job and to figure out what I truly wanted to do. I started to look into my own habits and choices. Being a training lover, I basically live in activewear. For years I’ve been ignoring the fact that I got rashes on my skin when working out, and simply accepted the fact that I have to wash my shirts after every use because of the odor. I studied the labels of my sports clothes carefully and found out that ALL of them were made from plastics or synthetics, mostly polyester. This means that they release microplastics with every wash, harming our precious Earth, are petroleum-based and include a cocktail of chemicals and toxins that can lead to rashes, allergies and even more severe chronical issues. 

Why do I have to put something on my skin that’s harming my health and our home planet – though I work out to be fit and healthy?  I looked everywhere for “clean” alternatives, but all I could find was clothing made from plastics, recycled plastics, or cotton. I wanted clean, natural activewear, free from toxins and ethically made, and which at the same time is functional, performing and with great fit and style. And I wanted nature to be my guide. 

That was the moment when I decided to create my own brand, Tripulse, which would offer just that: Zero-compromise that looks good, feels good and does good – harnessing the power of nature. 

So this is my little backstory. Now I’d love to share with you how I went about launching my brand using crowdfunding.

Feel the resistance – and do it anyways

Is it a good idea to launch a business or new product by running a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign in the midst of the pandemic, or the height of the recession? What would you say are the odds of succeeding? I’ve asked for many people’s opinions only to realize that most of them said “This is crazy, no way that this would ever succeed”. But I had this feeling inside of me whispering to me to give it a go nonetheless. And that’s what I did. I ignored the noise, gave the best I possibly could to make it happen – and made it happen, successfully. Twice. But this was not a strike of luck. It actually took a lot of work, time and preparation to succeed. A lot of people asked me how I actually made it happen, and what my biggest lessons learned are. And I’m more than happy to share it with you. There is no golden formula, but a number of things that I think made me reach this goal.

What is Kickstarter and why did I choose it

For starters – Kickstarter is a funding platform where creators can share their projects, and can pre-sell their rewards (products) in exchange for funding. But only if the creator reaches the funding goal in a set time frame will s(he) actually get the funds, else no funding at all. The money collected will then be used to fund the production of the pre-sold products. The whole purpose is to support the creator in bringing the project to life – which in many cases requires a lot of upfront money which a lot of start-ups don’t have. I created a Kickstarter campaign twice. For the first time in 2020 for our very first activewear collection and in order to bring our brand to life, and then in 2023 for our very first sports bra. Given that I bootstrapped my business with very limited capital, I chose to run a Kickstarter campaign as this allowed me not having to use my own capital for upfront production and ensuring what gets made is sold. It’s also a great way to only produce what is pre-ordered and to ensure that we don’t overproduce and create waste as many other fashion brands do. Besides that, running a Kickstarter campaign is a great way to gauge market interest for a new product, and a great marketing opportunity. Succeeding on Kickstarter ultimately meant for me that I’d be able to make my dream come true and bring the very first Tripulse collection, as well as a new flagship product, to life. 

THE MOMENT OF TRUTH

Putting my whole heart and passion for zero-compromise sustainable activewear out there and sharing it with the world was “a moment of truth” to say the least. Will people like what we created? Will people actually pay for it?  What if nobody backs the project? Will I have to start from scratch again, or have to shut down altogether? What if….? And the questions in my head went on and on. They say if you want to create change and make an impact, you have to put yourself out there and ultimately make yourself vulnerable – vulnerable to people’s opinions, behaviors, actions, non-actions. I can say that I never felt so vulnerable in my life after I pressed the “launch button” of the very first Tripulse Kickstarter campaign. There was no way to undo it, and my project was out there for the whole world to look at. 

MY BIGGEST LESSONS LEARNED

Fast forward two campaigns, I can proudly report that we overachieved our funding goals twice and for the second campaign even by 250%, and we raised over 25k US dollars both times. It was an exceptional result considering that only 30% of fashion projects successfully reach their goals on Kickstarter, and only 10% of these raise 20k US dollars and more. It felt surreal, and I couldn’t believe it at first. Did we really make it? Did we succeed against all the odds of the pandemic, and a heavy recession? Honestly, there have been times I felt that no matter what we did, we just wouldn’t get enough backers fast enough to help us reach our goal. There were many times I felt doubt, desperation, and uncertainties – which were often followed by moments of all-time highs where the backers would just “roll in”. Running the campaign was a true roller-coaster ride, especially the first one. I thought a lot about what it took to make it happen and want to share with you some of the key lessons I learned from this campaign. 

  • Building a community from the very start

Would we have succeeded if we’d just launched the campaign without any community to share it with? Absolutely not. Especially with a close to zero marketing budget. Ten months before our first campaign was launched, I started building the Tripulse community, organically. Sharing the Tripulse mission and journey through social media and other channels such as email helped me create a community with people who share the same values – and who were so excited for the Tripulse products to come to life. Once I launched the campaign, it was the Tripulse community who spread the word in their networks and helped reach as many people as possible. Without the community, the campaign would have utterly failed.

  • Listen to your gut

Especially when running our first campaign, there were many different reasons not to run the campaign – we were in the midst of the Corona crisis, many people were struggling with unemployment, tough political situations, the list goes on. But would the situation ever change for the better? I felt if I’m not acting now, I might end up waiting in the “starting line” without ever making the next move and being part of the real “run”. Life is full of uncertainties, nobody can predict the future. I felt that amidst all these serious issues and negativity going on in the world, what people need is inspiration, positive news and solutions. I wanted to remind people of the importance of our environment and health  – and offer them a solution that could help make our world a little bit better. And that’s why I decided to follow my gut, listened to my inner voice, and went ahead with the campaign against all odds. A decision I don’t regret. 

  • Teamwork – people are everything

I still get chills when I think of all the wonderful people who went the extra mile and helped me spread the message and supported me in extraordinary ways. People who would speak about Tripulse and hand out flyers in their local gyms, who connected me to amazing sustainability & fitness partners, or those who were cheering for Tripulse when I was not around, those who invited me to panels and podcasts – without ever asking anything in return. In short – amazing ambassadors who truly believed in Tripulse and its mission and wanted it to succeed as much as I did. I realized that people will want to help when they truly believe in a mission and want change to happen, and when they see an entrepreneur putting her whole heart into it. And if there is a solution out there who can create that change, they are more than happy to support. I can’t say it often enough especially because we hear so many negative stories in the media these days – the world is full of kind-hearted, helpful, smart, amazing people who have inspired me with their generosity and willingness to help.

  • Get comfortable being uncomfortable and act, fail and adjust fast – and don’t give up

If the Kickstarter campaign taught me one thing, then it’s this – move quickly, fail fast, adjust, get comfortable being uncomfortable and never give up. Especially with limited (financial) resources, It’s key to have an agile and flexible mindset, to think outside the box,  and to find new ways to promote and spread the word to as many people as possible. There is no shortage of options, just a limitation in our minds in regards to how uncomfortable we are willing to get. Prior to the campaign I’ve researched what actions would bring the biggest results – but often the reality is different. Studying the best campaigns and what they all have in common is a great starting point. But ultimately, I had to find my own “secret sauce” and try out a lot of things to find out what works best. In the end, “hustling” was key. Contacting my existing network, connecting to people I haven’t spoken to in a long time and sharing about my project, going on the streets of Stockholm and handing out flyers to random people, speaking at events and holding interviews all helped to get the word out. It was also important to listen to our community and backers during the campaign and to make quick adjustments. One example of this was that in our first campaign we only had models in size S wearing our products. But it turns out that many of our potential backers wanted to see models in bigger sizes too, so they can relate better. And we made it happen. In only a short period of time we created bigger-sized prototypes, did a photoshoot, and added more size variety to our visuals resulting in more backers. We did the same when women asked us to offer an even larger size set for our sports bras. After a quick evaluation we made that possible, catered for their wishes which also resulted in gaining more backers.

  • If in doubt, remember your WHY

As much as I love what I do and believe in it, there were days when it was tougher for me to push forward, to stay strong, and to keep on hustling. It’s been especially in moments when there were no new backers for a few days, or when receiving a social media comment that was demanding and criticizing, without seeking to understand our intentions first. But – that’s life, and that’s what I had to expect when throwing myself out there. It’s a vulnerable place to be in. I believe that when being in moments of doubt or crisis, revert back to your WHY. The reason I created Tripulse is to make a positive change by offering truly sustainable, health-friendly and ethical activewear without compromising on function, style nor performance and to use business as a force for good. It’s a WHY much bigger than myself and my feelings, and something I’m ready to “fight” for no matter the challenges on the way.

  • Enjoy the process, not only the end goal

I’ve been laser-focused on reaching the Kickstarter funding goal the moment I hit the “launch” button of the campaigns. Even though I was on a good way to reach it, I caught myself being uneasy and still not happy because I hadn’t reached the goal yet. And in a way that’s a good thing because it kept me pushing forward hard and made me act fast. But – It’s very easy to fall into the trap of only being happy if I’d reach my goal successfully. What if the campaign would have failed? Would this whole experience have been only one of sleepless nights and hardship and lacking any fun and positive moments? It was so important to remind myself to enjoy the whole journey and the process, to see it as a great learning experience and to appreciate every single moment of it. A lot of these moments were tough and challenging – but isn’t it wonderful that I was able to learn so much from it and grew throughout the process? I tried to remind myself of it and to celebrate the daily little wins and learnings. It’s with everything in life – we got to enjoy each and every second of it. If we wait to celebrate only when hitting the major goals and milestones in our lives – we might end up feeling miserable and joyless the majority of our precious short time on Earth.

Believe in yourself

A great way to sum up my lessons learned is a quote from Henry Ford who said “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right”.Having trust in my vision and mission with Tripulse, dreaming big, and believing that it is absolutely possible to succeed has been the very foundation for the success of this campaign and will be for the future of Tripulse. 

About Franziska:

Franziska is an impact entrepreneur passionate about sustainability, health and movement. Through her brand Tripulse she wants to revolutionize the activewear industry to make it truly sustainable, and to inspire people to lead active, sustainable and connected lives. She strongly believes in the power of using business as a force for good.

Contact Franziska

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