Nathalie De Clercq is the New York-based co-founder behind the recently launched, WIPLabs.com (Work In Progress Labs), that makes successful crowd funded products available to consumers everywhere!
After merging earlier month with the popular BiteMyApple.co, Nathalie and WIPLabs.com sought-out more unique, clever and cool products from Kickstarter, Indiegogo and other crowd funding sites and created a marketplace for them to be sold.
The Levity Ball sat down with Nathalie to learn more about her career and what’s next for WIPLabs.com…
1. To start off: How did you come up with the concept of Wiplabs.com?
My partner and I, Kevin Wippermann, love tech but found that some of our favorite products were missing certain features or accessories. It was right around the time that Indiegogo and Kickstarter were becoming popular, we had backgrounds in design and production so we thought we’d take a shot! Through the campaigns and marketing we met tons of companies along the way and found that it was a good idea to band together to sell on one platform.
2. Why are you in such support of the crowd funding process?
I love crowd funding for all that it stands for – all these essential parts of business – validation of an idea, funding, criticism, improvements, marketing, support, etc. – all on one platform. It’s connecting people who want to make innovative products with the people who want the newest product that you can’t find anywhere else. And being a part of the journey is also a lot of fun. You can learn a lot from following a brand’s trials, tribulations and successes from start to finish.
3. Having worked for Fortune 500 companies before, what is the biggest thing you have learned over the years?
Accept the job/project/challenge, figure out how to do it later. It’s the easiest way to learn and grow.
4. What is your advice to others wanting to come up with a product and use crowd funding sites to garner funds? Is there a site of choice like IndieGogo or Kickstarter you would recommend more?
Crowd funding sites are definitely starting to zero-in on their own different markets. For someone wanting to raise money for arts, music, film, publishing – go to Kickstarter. If you’re looking to raise money for charity, or family, friends – best to use GoFundMe, Fundly, or a similar platform. For products and hard goods my go-to is Indiegogo. They have great recommendations for sourcing, production, logistics, fulfillment, and other hard goods specific resources that no other platform has. They’re focused on products and it really shows when you’re working with them. Plus they have great customer support!
5. What makes Wiplabs.com different than other shops online for products?
The selection of products on Wiplabs will always be new and innovative. We test the products ourselves and check them for consistent quality. You can see on each product page how much money was raised through crowd funding and how many backers the campaign had. It’s a great way to continue to support small businesses and entrepreneurs – with little risk – and you know the products will be interesting and unique (if crowd funding brought the product to life you can be sure no one else has it!).
6. What has the consumer feedback been so far upon launching the site recently?
Our customers have been very vocal, suggesting improvements on the site and encouragement. Which makes a lot of sense since many of them come from the crowd funding community where feedback is always welcome. Overall they seem to love the new look and the ease of shopping.
7. When you do finally get some downtime, what do you enjoy doing?
I travel quite a bit so it depends where I am. Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time editing photos and videos, yoga, catching up with friends over a coffee/cocktail. It’s also important to me to grab as much time with my family (and their dogs) as possible.
8. You currently live in New York… Where are some of your favorite spots to eat, hang, etc.?
So many! This is a tough one. I’m in Hell’s Kitchen so we have amazing restaurants to choose from. Ippudo, Taboon, Bocca di Bacco are some of my faves. West Village is always so charming, there’s a great new pescaterian restaurant called Osteria 57, nearby Rosemary’s (also a favorite). I’m also a sucker for rooftop bars here. From up there you can’t really deny it’s the best city in the world.
9. What would you like Wiplabs.com to be remembered for in years down the road when people look back at it from when it first launched?
A store with a clear vision of always offering high quality, innovative products; with a team that worked hard on creating a great customer experience from start to finish. The website should spark fun, intrigue, enjoyment. If people remember it for that, we’d be very happy.
10. And final question: Prior to your career as an entrepreneur, you were a famous singer in Europe under the stage name of Telihana…. How was this experience, and do you ever miss your singing career?
Not that famous, haha. I used to call Telihana my alter ego – and it was always fun to ‘be her’, haha. My friends would tease me as sometimes I spoke in the third person – ‘I wouldn’t wear that but Telihana would’. What do I miss? There’s really nothing quite like the feeling of getting a new track back and listening to it at full volume in my car. I miss that. I miss the adrenaline rushes before getting on stage. I miss traveling with an entourage for the excuse of a tour! Lots of fun stories from the Telihana days.