Kyle Schut

Founder, Straton Watch Company

Getting an idea listed on an international crowdfunding platform such as Kickstarter is a challenging task for a South African. Getting it funded is an entirely different story.

That’s why when Kyle Schut decided to pour his dual passions for classic motor car racing and fine timepieces into crowdfunding the formation of the Straton Watch Company, he set his goals at a relatively low R250 000.

To his surprise the market gave him an overwhelming R2.5-million investment, making it arguably the most successful crowdfunding campaign created by a South African to date.

“Like the car you drive, the watch you wear reflects your passion and can say a lot about you,” he says. “Combining the two was something that came naturally as my inspiration was right in front of me, my 1977 Alfa Romeo Alfetta GT. The tachometer of this car inspired me to design my first watch,” he explains.

Schut’s successful experience with crowdfunding has allowed his range to expand somewhat since then. “I currently have the Vintage Driver Chrono, which is available in five colour variations, and I have just launched the Curve-Chrono — a 70s inspired racing chronograph — as well as my own range of leather driving gloves.”

Schut’s primary channel to market his watches is his website, and he has successfully delivered more than 1 000 watches to customers all over the world.

If Schut’s story has you fancying your own foray into the world of crowdfunding, best you take some advice from the maestro first. “The most important factors when considering to run a Kickstarter campaign is to take your time, and develop a product with a story people can relate to,” he explains.

This, he says, entails spending at least three months marketing it to every possible avenue before launching your crowdfunding campaign. “Many people make the mistake of creating a campaign and expecting it to become successful. This just isn’t possible. Before and during the campaign you have to contact every possible blogger, magazine, newspaper and website, asking them to write something about the campaign or your upcoming launch.”

Kyle says his idea has grown into a business that’s more successful than he ever dreamt.

“I sold over 1 000 watches in less than a year and my second watch on Kickstarter raised a total of R2.8-million is just 25 days,” he enthuses. Kyle is already designing his third watch, which will launch later this year. — Kerry Haggard

Instagram: @stratonwatchcompany