How Hardware Startup CircuitMess Used Productive to Raise $325k on Kickstarter

4 min read

CircuitMess is a hardware startup that makes educational DIY (do it yourself) mobile phones for customers from all over the world. Their product MAKERphone is an educational mobile phone that you assemble and code yourself. It is designed to bring electronics and programming to the crowd in a fun and interesting way.

With a small team, CircuitMess managed to have two successful crowdfunding campaigns. In one month alone MAKERphone Kickstarter campaign raised more than $300k in total.

Creating educational hardware and managing software development, sales, marketing, production, shipping, and logistics has many challenges. Here is how Albert Gajšak, the CEO of CircuitMess and his team use Productive to keep all of their work in one place.

#1 Who is Albert Gajšak? What is a MAKERphone? How big is your team?

I’m Albert and I’m the CEO of CircuitMess – a newly founded hardware startup that recently had two successful crowdfunding campaigns that raised $424k in total.

MAKERphone is an educational DIY mobile phone designed to bring electronics and programming to the crowd in a fun and interesting way. 

Currently, there are seven full-timers and four half-timers in our team. Their jobs vary from hardware and software development to sales, marketing, production, shipping, and logistics, etc.

#2 What is your primary market? What is the most significant value MAKERphone brings to consumers?

Despite us being a small Croatian startup, most MAKERphones are sold and shipped to various countries outside Croatia.
We have customers from over 71 countries worldwide and most of our products go to the USA, UK, and Germany.

MAKERphone’s main purpose and value is education. We (and our customers as well) think that the world is going to need more programmers, designers, and creative people of any sort in the future. That’s why this modern day and age needs educational devices that are going to bring technology and creativity to the crowd in an interesting way (a.k.a. educate them).

#3 Could you tell us more about your Kickstarter campaign? What was the most fun part of creating a Kickstarter campaign?

Our latest campaign ran for 45 days and we’ve managed to get media coverage from big media sites such as Forbes, Mashable, and TechCrunch. We were preparing the campaign for 8 months in advance.
It was tough, but fun at the same time.
The most fun part of preparing the campaign was designing a completely new hardware product along with a team of brilliant young people all throwing neat ideas at the table.

#4 Did you expect these many backers for MAKERphone?

Of course not. We’ve generated more money with this campaign than the last year and a half of our startup’s existence and operation.

We were expecting a better result compared to our first campaign that raised $100k, but we really weren’t sure whether people are going to pay $100+ for a quirky educational mobilephone-ish device.


#5 Is there a piece of advice you would like to share with young people who are trying to create something new or are starting a business like yours?

Don’t be afraid of failure and think big. 

A year and a half ago, I was a teenager going to high school and building game consoles in my parents’ kitchen.
Now I’m leading a successful self-sustainable startup that appeared on Forbes twice.

Also – people, you’ll need people if you’re going to think big.
It took me a long time to figure out that you can’t make big things alone. You need to find a team of like-minded people and work as a team if you want to succeed.

Oh, and you need to stay focused, which is especially hard if you’re a startup with the average employee age of 20 (like us).

Use some kind of a task management software for that. We use Productive for a while now. 

#6 When you decided to implement an IT solution like Productive, there must have been a challenge you were trying to solve. What is the most important thing a software should solve for a business like yours?

Mainly organization as this is something every startup lacks. Despite working with a very small team and having A LOT of work to do, you need to determine who does what, otherwise you’re all going to be late, coffee addicted, and burned out.

Another thing we solved with Productive is our B2B sales.

Currently, we have over 40 distributors around the world retailing our products and we couldn’t have done that without some kind of sales lead management software. Luckily, it was already implemented in Productive (yay!).

In fact, we have a person hired to do B2B sales full time. He’s called Miron and he loves Productive. Is that right, Miron? C’mon, say it! 🙂

#7 What is the difference in the sales process and planning between your company and an agency? How Productive fits into the culture of your company?

We produce products and sell them directly to end customers (B2C). We also do B2B by selling our products to retailers around the globe.

We use Productive the most for keeping things organized, track our employees time, calculate salaries, and manage our B2B sales leads.

Sometimes we also chat with wonderful Productive’s sales stuff when we’re bored (we click on the Intercom help bubble and send GIFs).  🙂

#8 How would you describe your relationship with Productive so far? Are you happy with the service? Would you recommend Productive to other businesses like yours?

We’re really happy, although I’d really like to be able to sort tasks according to urgency when I’m in the calendar view.

Also, I’d like to have calendar view on mobile. 

Otherwise, it’s a great tool for keeping things organized and I’d recommend it to any young unorganized startup similar to ours.


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