The crowdfunding success of Bold Knot, a technology company producing fast charge solutions for mobile, is a testament to the importance of location in the technology sector. Struggling with production challenges in their native Palestine, like lack of 3D printer or ability to get one into the country, or lacking PCB electrical manufacturer, the team started looking for another option. Ismat Ihsan Tuffaha, 22, cofounder of Bold Knot, says, "we started a hardware startup from one of the most closed, restricted areas in the world, and that's not a good thing to do; I don't advise anyone to go and do that!"
Tuffaha and his two co-founders decided to bring their company to Estonia after this series of challenges in their homeland, including the lack of understanding about the crowdfunding model. "Crowdfunding is not really famous where I live," says a methodically spoken Ismat, "it doesn't have that strong culture of startup and entrepreneurship."
Indeed, during their Indigogo crowdfunding campaign, they received a mere $150 dollars from Palestine, in surprise contrast to their neighbouring country Israel, where they received over $3000, despite strained political relations. One of the reasons for this being the fact that only 2% of their potential crowd owned credit cards.
The Bold Knot, a solution for all those drained batteries of smartphones, has no magic or patentable technology. The magic is in software - the knot reduces data transfer during the charge, to allow more raw electricity through. The solution might be simple-sounding, but the opportunity is clearly there, the charging industry was worth around $9 billion when the idea was born in 2013.
The crowdfunding success of Bold Knot, that has raised $103,572 on Indigogo to date, gained around $10,000 of this from Estonian support, with $7,000 of that figure coming within the first week. Good start is seen decisive for success of any crowdfunding campaign. Tuffaha puts strong Estonian support down to the strong sense of community they felt in small university town of Tartu where they built the campaign at hardware accelerator BuildIT. People became excited, and the team got a sense that locally there was a pride in what they were doing, they felt a real, "These boys are from my town, look how cool they are," kind of vibe.
Every crowdfunding campaign organiser will tell you there is another side to the virtual coin, dark times blight even the most successful campaigns, and Bold Knot was no exception. "Lets say the middle of the crowdfunding campaign, [was] a disaster," admits a reflective Tuffaha, who replied to a question about whether there was pain, with a wry smile and a simple, "Yes, there was lots."
He explains further how the risk of misjudging initial interest and support, can make for difficult times throughout, "If it happens that the campaign started, and your crowd is not really your crowd, [as in] they don't keep their word, that's going to be a dark day, and for the rest of the campaign."
For Tuffaha and the Bold Knot team, the storm was weathered, although he concedes that, "it could have never happened without the ecosystem of Estonia." Relocating to another country is challenging at the best of times, to do so with the view to setting up and running a business takes the right conditions, and Estonia can offer these conditions for the guys.
Even with the right conditions, a great product and good people on board, a project can struggle. On putting this point to Tuffaha, he says with a relieved grin, "We had some good luck."