Brik Book is a great example of a startup that knows how to use email and community to drive revenue. They joined the SendGrid Accelerate program earlier this year. After a previous Kickstarter campaign in which they raised over $90,000 (more than three times their goal), they are back with a campaign for a new product called Brik Tile. I asked co-founder Brett Miller to share the story of Brik Book.

What makes Brik Book unique?

Brik Book is the only MacBook case (PC coming soon) that is compatible with popular building bricks include LEGO™, MegaBloks and more. Builders can use Brik Build to design amazing pixel art online, then build those designs on their Brik Books or Brik Tiles at home.

What’s the superhero origin story of Brik Book?

We had the original prototypes for Brik Tile (currently on Kickstarter) hanging on our apartment wall. David Dripps (co-founder) and his friend had just finished a pixel art design and they were working on their MacBooks. While walking past them I realized their design would fit perfectly on the back of their MacBooks. If we designed a laptop case, builders could take their designs with them to the office, coffee shops, or virtually anywhere.

We’ve been building an email list of Brik Book customers since the original Kickstarter campaign. SendGrid makes it incredibly simple to import emails into a custom list and build a beautiful email template. The day we launched Brik Tile (LEGO™ compatible wall tiles) we sent an email to thousands of our previous Brik Book customers which resulted in a 50% open rate, 12% CTR, and almost $10,000 in sales on the first day!

How valuable has Kickstarter been in terms of growing your contact list?

Kickstarter is a powerful platform and community. We had 1,655 backers for Brik Book. 34% of those backers came from Kickstarter promoting Brik Book for us. Kickstarter provides basic tools for sending updates to backers, but it’s fairly limited. After the campaign finished, we exported that list from Kickstarter and imported it into SendGrid. We’ve been using SendGrid for communication ever since.

Are there any mistakes you made during your launch campaigns that you’d warn other startups to watch out for?

We made several mistakes during our first Kickstarter campaign. We offered too many color options. We had four MacBook models and offered five colors. That’s 20 different SKUs! I recommend keeping it under three. We also tried to manage order changes in a spreadsheet. That caused several outdated shipments and returns. It was a mess. We eventually found ShipStation to organize our orders and shipping. Spend some time researching the correct tools up front. It will save you thousands down the road.

You’ve done a lot of great work establishing a passionate community of Brik designers and customers via your Design Gallery and design contests. How do you keep your community engaged?

Not only does Brik Build allow builders to design their own pixel art, they can share their designs with the rest of the community. We’ve had over 1,000 designs submitted by the community since opening the beta a few months ago.

Email is our primary tool for engagement. We have a monthly newsletter highlighting the top designs and awarding prizes to our favorites. Soon we’ll be sending out weekly updates to our builders with personalized design picks based on their site activity. We’ll also be adding likes and notifications, and we’ll be using SendGrid for sending transactional emails.

How else are you using email right now?

We’re primarily using email for newsletters and special promotions. We also have different product beta and VIP groups. We use SendGrid’s custom list feature to keep the communication organized. They also handle unsubscribes for us to keep deliverability high.

Have you seen positive ROI from email?

Email campaigns have had a tremendous impact on our revenue. We’ve had days with over $5,000 in sales from a single email promotion. Not bad for a startup with a small email list that’s only been shipping products for a few months.

How did you find out about SendGrid and what led you to choose our platform?

We used SendGrid at my last startup. After trying several other email services, SendGrid was the most effective for deliverability, API integration, and customer service. When we started Brik Book, we joined SendGrid’s Accelerate program. The Accelerate team has been incredible to work with!

You have some interesting plans for more email campaigns using the SendGrid API. Can you talk a bit about what you’re working on?

This fall we’ll be rolling out an exciting new email for our builders. Each week we’ll scan the gallery for new designs and based on your previous Brik purchases, we’ll email you designs that you already have the Briks for at home. Imagine getting a custom email each week with beautiful new pixel art designs you already have the necessary Briks to build. Occasionally, we’ll recommend designs that you almost have enough Briks to build. It’s the perfect up sell. “Here are 10 new designs you can build now -or- purchase 100 black Briks and you’ll be able to build these 5 designs too!” The new Brik Build and email notification program will be a game changer for our company.

Thanks to Brett for taking the time to talk with me and thanks to Brik Book for being a SendGrid Accelerate member. Go support Brik Tile on Kickstarter — I did!

Want to share your startup story or learn how SendGrid can help your startup? Apply for SendGrid Accelerate now.

SendGrid Team
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