An Appleton-based animation startup called Dodles has officially launched in several test markets after months of gathering customer feedback and tweaking software.
“We make it possible for people to animate more easily from their mobile devices,” said Craig Doriot, company founder. “To really just unleash the power of animation to the average everyday person so they can communicate more effectively with animation tools.”
Doriot spoke yesterday as part of a discussion hosted in Appleton by Kinnektor, an entrepreneurial support group that’s working to grow its reach from the Fox Valley area. The session focused on prototyping, and featured several startups telling their stories of product development.
Beta testing for Dodles had been going on for about six months, and Doriot says the platform gained about 500 active users in that time. By comparison, in the last 30 days, he and his team have been able to add over 1,500 users without any traditional paid advertising.
Instead, Doriot and his team have been reaching users face-to-face by visiting comic con events and connecting online by targeting social media users through Instagram and individual social influencers.
Doriot tells WisBusiness.com that most people they’ve been able to reach through comic con events are between 30 and 40 years old, whereas the online efforts are hitting younger users. By targeting specific groups of people based on hashtags they use or other trackable online activity, Dodles has built up a social media following of over 300,000.
Dodles went live July 24 in several countries including Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Uganda and Rwanda. Doriot says these will work as effective test environments for the platform, as they have many english language speakers but present fewer risks than other markets.
The company’s prototyping process was very user-driven, Doriot says, as he and his team would get the platform in front of people from all walks of life, from 5-year-olds to professional artists.
“We put this in front of them with very little guidance, but we would kind of walk them through different iterations of our app,” he said, noting this allowed them to “gauge their excitement levels, or gauge their frustrations in different areas without pushing them in that direction.”
Kinnektor’s event was attended by several dozen people, and featured break-out sessions after the luncheon discussion for entrepreneurs to brainstorm ideas surrounding prototyping and product development.
Other panelists discussed the specifics of product development in various manufacturing sectors.
Brian Davis is creator of Fix-It Sticks, a product for serious cyclists “who have bikes that cost stupid amounts of money,” he said. He’s also created other products for the cycling market, and is involved with launching a digital advertising platform.
Joe Nagan, a Kaukauna resident, founded Bath Fans Solutions in order to get a specific bath fan vent product to market. He’s had years of experience in residential construction, and says he interacts with over 350 builders in Wisconsin on an annual basis, making it easy for him to gather feedback on his product.
Karen Riggers spoke about her Appleton startup, Reinvent Ferment. Along with co-founder Eric Riggers, she produces and sells fermented foods aimed at healthy eaters.
“We’ve experienced tremendous growth, kind of hitting a niche in the market in northeast Wisconsin,” she said.
Listen to a recent podcast with Karen and Eric Riggers: http://wisbusiness.com/index.Iml?Article=391147
See a previous story on Dodles: http://wisbusiness.com/index.Iml?Article=391024
–By Alex Moe