JazWings Helps Your Ideas Take Flight – Interview at NYCC
ToonBarn readers, do you have creative ideas that you would like to turn into an actual product? Do you want to be able to choose what creative ideas get turned into real products? Here’s your chance!
At the Tube Heroes™ booth, we saw a promotion for a new website that just launched at NYCC. The website is http://www.jazwings.com and it is all about bringing your ideas to life. We have many fans of all types of animation here at ToonBarn. Imagine if you could take your idea for an animated show, or any number of other ideas, and really make that a reality!
JazWings believes that the world is filled with imaginative, creative people who have great ideas for new products, new brands, new worlds of entertainment. But for too long, too few of those Creators have had the opportunity – or the support – to bring those ideas to life.
So, their mission is simple: they make it easier for more people to turn big ideas into global brands. JazWings fosters a supportive Community that gives each creator the respect, the Support – and the rewards they deserve.
First, we’re going to show you a quick video that explains how the JazWings website turns your idea into a reality. Then, we have an interview with JazWings Vice President of Global Business Development – Sophie Lefebvre.
ToonBarn Head Writer Marc Morrell Interviews Sophie Lefebvre (VP of Global Business Development – JazWings):
Marc: Sophie, the JazWings site is all about fostering a community of creators and the people who enjoy the fruits of their creations. How do you go about bringing more people to the site to join this community?
Sophie: We are looking at lots of different avenues. We just launched our blog yesterday. It’s a blog and forum. We’ve also been very active on the social media sites. A lot that has been done is on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn Groups. We do 30-plus groups every 2 weeks, where we post ideas from our creators and get people to vote. We are also launching on Tumblr, and a very different blog called the Creator Initiative, which will be launched next week. I don’t know if you’re familiar with “Humans of New York”, but it’s something very similar, where we will be featuring some creators that we met at New York Comic Con, and we’ll follow them as they move through the process.
Marc: How do you know what the full breadth of someone’s idea is when they submit it on the site?
Sophie: The way it works is anyone can enter. It’s free of charge. Anyone 18 years or older can upload an idea. To be able to vote on an idea, you have to be 13 years old. We have that option for younger inventors who want to check it out, but for the creators, you have to be 18. Right now, when you upload an idea, we have our JazWings Advisors who actually follow-up with the creators to work directly with them to make sure the idea was uploaded correctly, and they have everything they need to activate the community to have people actually vote on the idea. We also give them pointers on how to work with our Twitter and our Facebook accounts, so they can make sure the community knows that the idea has been uploaded. We make sure to let them know that updates are critical. At this point in time on the site, we recommend that people upload their ideas for a full 90 days, because the community is not very large right now, we are very new. (The JazWings website was launched 3 weeks ago, and has 57 creator ideas, with 840 community members) We are very pleased to say that 3 ideas have made it to 100% of the votes needed for a crowdfunding campaign.
Marc: Yes, and one of those was Round Bunny, right?
Sophie: Yes! That is correct. The creator of Round Bunny and the JazWings panel have already met, and we have another meeting this coming Friday. On Round Bunny, we will be moving forward with that property and working with Gaston (creator of Round Bunny) on doing that together. It’s very exciting!
Marc: Ok, great! So, you’ve got a creator with an idea. They’ve made it past the voting phase. That means they go to the crowdfunding phase. How can the creator help their idea along through the crowdfunding phase?
Sophie: Using Gaston as an example, he has already been very popular on Tumblr. What he has done with Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, he has over 10,000 fans following him already. He has been able to activate that fanbase. Literally, every other day, he will post to encourage everyone to vote on his idea. His posts are all different. One post, he said, “Help me bring Round Bunny to life”, and another, “I really want to do a crowdfunding campaign, help me get there”. Everything was focused around the product, but also around its creation. So, now we’re working with Gaston for the crowdfunding campaign, and the discussion is about what that campaign will look like, and for him to share with his fans and the entire JazWings Community what the crowdfunding campaign will be about. Then, both Gaston and JazWings will activate that community, and when the crowdfunding campaign goes LIVE, there will be a direct link from the Round Bunny idea on JazWings to the crowdfunding campaign.
Marc: Terrific! So, the types of ideas that people can create are books, Tv Shows, animation. What other types of ideas for products are you looking for on JazWings?
Sophie: Toys, games, animation. When I say “games”, I mean game apps, board games, card games. Also, characters or design. We have a few people on the site now that have a drawing or sketch of a character, with a little bit of a story. People can also upload a full storyboard. Also, a story by itself. We have a person on the site that has uploaded 12 pages of a story that is fascinating. So, you can upload anything from a sketch level up to some advanced levels, where people have prototypes they’ve built. The range runs the gamut, and it’s really open to everybody.
Marc: Alright, so, let’s say they have a successful campaign on the crowdfunding site, and their project is funded. What happens then?
Sophie: OK, once a campaign is funded. The creator actually receives a $5,000 bonus. We also have a review by the JazWings panel, one more time, to see what the product is, and if we are going to go through with the product or not. If the product is going to end up on a shelf, or available to the public, based on the type of product.
Marc: Does the person who created the idea get to form a team behind them to get the project rolling?
Sophie: We have the team. By the end of the crowdfunding campaign, this idea has become a brand, and we have brand guidelines that we work together with the creator. The creator also gets 5% net revenue of what is leftover from the campaign, and we do pay for the entire campaign. Everything is up front. The brand guideline that we work on with the creator will determine what the property will look like to the public. Now, the creator works with the Jazwares team and the JazWings team to transition the product, which will end up on a shelf, in the movies, or on the web, etc.
Marc: Now, is the creator involved at every level, every facet of the property, even through the Monster phase, if it comes to that?
Sophie: Yes, it is mandatory for the creator to be involved, because that is the essence of the idea behind JazWings. We are not looking for creators that put the idea on the site, turn around and abandon it. It’s the entire journey. It’s a partnership. It’s something we are embarking on together. We are passionate about it, and we do want the creator to be passionate about it. That’s why we are asking the creator to activate the community very early on in the voting phase and during the crowdfunding phase. Of course, then they have bragging rights when the idea comes to life at the end. The Monster phase is very interesting for us because it can happen at any point in time. It does not have to be sequential. The Monster phase can even happen as a jump start at any point in time in the JazWings process. At that point in time, we are looking at a property that is going to be above and beyond just one or two product items. It will become a Monster Brand that can be books and games, animation, etc.
Marc: How long would it take, once it gets crowdfunded to have an actual finished product out there for people to consume?
Sophie: Every time we go into crowdfunding, we do have prototypes of the products. That is something we are very passionate about. We have been doing that for several years with Jazwares. That is some of the Best Practices that we are bringing to JazWings. Within 60 days of the crowdfunding campaign ending, that is when the rewards will be put forward, so we’ll send the rewards or perks then. After that, for the product to go on the shelf, it really depends on the cycle and where we are at with retailers. If we are going to go with more of a specialty-type retailer, then seasonabilty may not be as important as it may be with a major retailer. With a major retailer, we are looking at releasing product in either the Spring or the Fall. What I mean by that, is you are looking at either a May timeframe, or the other sweet spot is Black Friday. That being said, we have other ways to get products on shelves. So, I would say, from the time the crowdfunding campaign ends to the time you have something on the shelf, you have to wait 6-9 months.
Marc: Ok, Sophie, for our readers, what is the difference between JazWings and Jazwares?
Sophie: Jazwares is the main company, the core company. It’s where everything started. That’s the manufacturing of the toys and other products. JazWings is a division of Jazwares, and it’s our Idea Incubation Platform. We are sister companies. We work very well together, and one literally belongs to the other.
Marc: So, what other things has Jazwares developed? One of them was at New York Comic Con.
Sophie: That is correct. So, Tube Heroes™ is something very big. The other division of Jazwares that is important to mention is Jazwares Entertainment. Jazwares Entertainment was created approximately a year ago, and it takes care of all the inbound and outbound licensing, as well as all of the content. That means animation, game apps, etc. We have a game app coming up for Tube Heroes™ as well. For Tube Heroes™, it is a brand where we have brought on board some of the YouTube stars that are on the gaming side of YouTube. I believe we now have 45 YouTube stars that have signed on under the Tube Heroes™ umbrella. We actually take the skins that they have and we transform it into a plush or we have figures as well. We have some exciting things coming up for 2016, some very exciting products that I cannot speak about yet. For New York Comic Con, we were able to do some exclusive 6-inch vinyl figures. We also have a racing app coming up in the next few weeks.
Marc: Cool! So, let’s say I have an idea that I want to upload on the JazWings site. What’s the best way for me to present it so it gets a lot of votes?
Sophie: It’s all about visual, because at the end of the day, JazWings is a very visual platform that has been made for creative people. We live in a society where people don’t read as much, and if something grabs their attention, they are going to click on the idea and vote on it. What we call the ID Tag, which is when you enter into JazWings, that is really the summary, and the picture that is on the ID Tag really makes a big difference. That’s what we’ve been working on with the creators in the past 3 weeks since the site launched, it’s really to make sure that ID Tag picture really grabs the attention, and that all the following video or pictures really tells the story. Once the attention has been grabbed, then that’s when people start reading a little bit more and start voting. The fun thing about the vote that I’d like to mention, there are no thumbs down. No negativity on our site whatsoever. It’s only thumbs up and people can choose from 5 levels of how much they like the idea. That’s why you never know exactly how many votes you need, because it depends on how many people vote on the 5 different levels.
Marc: I think you should call the highest level “Take My Money NOW!”
Marc: I’ve seen people say that every time they saw something cool they shared on Twitter.
Sophie: It’s been interesting. We have 3 properties that have been successful. So, Round Bunny, he has 2 products, and KISA KUKU from Sergey, who’s based out of Russia. For him, it’s all about the colors and being visual. With most crowdfunding campaigns, you get the most votes during the first five days, and the last 5 days of the campaign, and that’s what happened with him. He made 100% on the last day. He activated his fanbase and said, “I’m almost there! I just need a few more votes!”
Marc: For the Blog and Forums that are on the JazWings site, do you need to sign up to be a member to get access to those, or can I get access without signing up?
Sophie: You can get access to the Blog and Forums without signing up on the site. Anyone can get to those anytime.
Marc: Thank you for sharing JazWings with us today! We look forward to seeing some ideas from ToonBarn readers in the future, and many more people joining JazWings as community members that have the power to choose what ideas they would like to see become a reality.
Sophie: My pleasure! We want to thank you for sharing our story on your blog.