The Flow Hive: a lesson in crowdfunding and IP protection

21 April 2017

Cedar (left) and Stuart (right) Anderson with their invention: The Flow Hive (image: The Flow Hive)

Byron Bay father-son duo Stuart and Cedar Anderson are the inventors behind Australia’s most successful crowdfunding campaign to date, The Flow Hive. Launched via Indigogo in 2015, the campaign has since raised approximately US$13.3 million equating to over 35 000 orders worldwide.

Their pitch: ‘Turn the tap and watch as pure, fresh, clean honey flows right out of the hive and into your jar. No mess, no fuss, no expensive processing equipment and without disturbing the bees.’

The pair have fulfilled their dreams of revolutionising the beekeeping method. The Flow Hive is the most significant beekeeping invention since the ‘Langstroth bee hive’, patented in 1852. They have also ignited a buzz within the global beekeeping community through their online presence.

In anticipation of the commercial value of their method, they registered for a provisional patent before launching their crowdfunding campaign. It was granted due to their invention’s unique split cell technology; a plastic ‘honeycomb matrix’ which the bees complete with their own wax.

Once the cells are filled with honey the user turns the lever to split the cells, allowing it to drain down through the channels and flow into a tube out of the hive. The structure produces pure, unprocessed honey ‘on tap’ without disturbing the bees or requiring the use of smokers or protective suits. What was a painstaking process which could take beekeepers hours had turned into the act of simply turning a lever.

The Andersons reached their target of US$72 000 in 8 minutes, remarkably fast in comparison to the creation of the invention which was the culmination of a decades’ work of brainstorming, sketching and prototyping.

Entrepreneurial success is all-consuming, as the Andersons were tasked with commitments that are standard to all global businesses but far from their former lifestyle; a constant stream of meetings, budgets and deadlines. But this change came with immeasurable perks.

They credit their global success to developing three key business objectives within The Flow Hive team:

  1. Foster company culture - happy and motivated staff are excited about their work
  2. Prioritize your IP strategy - keep on top of the patent, trademark, design and copyright protection
  3. Marketing and public relations – consult with experts to deliver a quality product as brand value will follow

Stu Anderson reminisces on his journey ‘I feel very very fortunate in so many ways. To have worked so closely with Cedar, my son, and to have invented something that really, so many people around the world are appreciating is making a difference for them. And then to suddenly be – it looks like – be financially secure.’ (As told to Business Insider).

Since its launch, The Flow Hive has been recognised for not only its innovative method, but also for its unique design. In 2016, The Flow Hive won Australia’s most prestigious prize for design, the Good Design Award.

Top tips from The Flow Hive’s success story

  • File for IP protection before launching a crowdfunding campaign and consider your global IP strategy.
  • Dedicate time towards finessing your marketing and public relations strategy to maximise the impact of your crowdfunding campaign.
  • Anticipate copycats and have a strategy ready to combat imitations of your product surfacing to market.

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