Nicolas Naigeon is co-founder of the startup Aveine, a member of ToasterLAB’s first cohort. Founded in 2016, this young company is behind the first intelligent wine aerator and will soon be launching its first pre-sales campaign. What is his advice on handling this tricky stage of development?

Aveine: in vino veritas

Founded less than 2 years ago, the startup is the brainchild of three partners, Nicolas Kamennoff, Matthieu Robert and Nicolas Naigeon, and is already showing serious signs of success. As a member of ToasterLAB’s (at the time known as AcceleRise) first cohort in 2017, Aveine has based its business on the development of an intelligent wine aerator. Since then, they have moved to new premises, recruited a total of 13 staff, and last summer acquired new investors. Having gained visibility through the Food Nexus Sartup Challenge and a presence at the CES, their next goal is a serious one: a second, more consequential, round of investment, the development of a client portfolio (a shoutout to my co-worker Stéphanie for her help), and the launch of their production. And, last but not least, an upcoming pre-sales campaign on Indiegogo.
“Pre-sales campaigns are a bit like playing poker…” admits Nicolas Naigeon. “There are two reasons to do one: to raise funds and to get your production off the ground.” A significant goal that needs to be taken very seriously. Here are three pieces of advice.

N°1: don’t skimp on your preparation

“Preparing your pre-sales campaign takes a lot of the one thing we are all short of: time,” explains Nicolas.
But time is the most important ingredient for making sure your listing of contacts (the first to be informed of your campaign) is well qualified. “The preparation of a clean and sales-ready database takes time: identifying your leads, qualifying them, for both email campaigns and on crowdfunding platforms.”
Time is also of the essence for preparing the promotion of the campaign. “Designing the web page, making a video, creating content and visuals for emails, social marketing, planning publication dates, press relations… A part of my team has been working full time on promoting our campaign,” he explains.
And time is money: recruiting new staff, outsourcing production (visuals and video, mainly). “You can’t underestimate the investment that this requires. Carrying it out at the last minute is not an option.”

N°2: All hands on deck for the first 48 hours

Nicolas is clear on one point: “With hindsight, I reckon the success of the pre-sales campaign is determined in 24-48 hours.” Why? “This is the period of visibility on crowdfunding platforms. Like how the lifespan of a Facebook post is only a few hours after publication, or a tweet is only a few minutes,” he explains. It is vital to mobilise your community of potential users in a very short time frame in order for your campaign to catch on.
“The buzz during this initial phase can really create an interest in your product.”
His advice? “Offer degressive reductions over time: 50% off for the first buyers of our aerator, -40% for the next, -30% for the next group etc. We were looking at creating engagement as fast as possible.”

N°3: Your reputation is key

However, Nicolas admits freely “as an entrepreneur, the principle of pre-sales campaigns is risky. You invest a lot without being able to anticipate the results. It’s a real gamble.”
One way to gain a bit of peace of mind is to work on your reputation. “People on the web are more and more wary of pre-sales. They have had some bad buzz, with startups or CEOs who take the money and run and never deliver the products. You need to be credible for it to work.”
So how did Aveine manage its credibility? “Our prototype is very advanced, which has allowed us to announce a very short delivery date (4-6 months). On the other hand, we gathered and published a lot of testimonials, which allowed us to build our reputation and that of the product. Finally, we counted on our community of ambassadors, who have been working with us for several months.”
A gamble, perhaps… but one where you can make your own luck!


By Claire Van Overstraeten

ToasterLAB Programme Manager, Claire "VO" is in charge of our start-ups' post-acceleration as well as intrapreneurship.  After 12 years with Vitagora, Claire's unparalleled knowledge of our network is put to good use while integrating our startups into the food business ecosystem!  E-mail her at: