In a Bay Area economy dominated by venture capitalism, Peak Design is unique. Unlike many of their San Francisco-based counterparts, they believe that crowdfunding is the best way to bring new products to life. And who can blame them? Since 2011 they’ve been able to funnel more than $13 million into making products that help adventurous people transport the everyday and creative gear they love the most. AdRoll sat down with Adam Saraceno and Elish Patel from Peak Design to see how they’re able to use digital marketing to enhance and grow their unique business. 

AdRoll: Tell us about Peak Design.

Adam: We’re a San Francisco-based product design company. We specialize in making gear that enables the creative and adventurous to go further, do more, and follow their passions. We tend to make products that we ourselves would use in our adventures and everyday lives. We’re proud to be entirely crowdfunded—no outside investors—it’s just us (23 of us now) and a close-knit community of Kickstarter backers and customers.

AdRoll: You have had a really interesting way of building your company. Can you talk about your unique strategy?

Adam: Crowdfunding. All of our major product launches happen on Kickstarter. We just finished our sixth campaign. Since 2011, we’ve raised over $13 million, which actually makes us the second most crowdfunded brand behind the good folks at Pebble. We stumbled into crowdfunding haphazardly; back in 2011, Kickstarter was just starting to become a “thing,” and our founder just so happened to come across it prior to launching our first product. The first project was a big success, and we haven’t looked back since. We hope to continue this business model as long as we can. Ultimately, it lets us focus on what we love: designing beautiful, innovative products for like-minded photographers and adventurers.

AdRoll: Tell us about your roles at Peak Design. What would you say is your favorite part of your position?

Elish: I get down with all of our digital marketing efforts as well as supporting Adam in the outbound dissemination of our brand through advertising, email, and various inbound channels. The tried-and-true best part of working for a small company is that I get to work in a lot of different parts of the business, dipping my toes into wholesale, community, and customer service. My best days are spent connecting the data-driven process of digital marketing with old school creativity. Photography runs through the blood of most people at Peak Design, and I feel lucky to be able to combine passion and work daily.

Adam: I head up the marketing team, so that makes me what, the marketing director? CMO? Marketing chancellor? We suck at titles. I oversee our brand, website, direct sales channels, and craft most of the messaging that folks see, including our website, newsletter, and Kickstarter pages. My favorite thing to do is to craft visually stunning, interesting, and entertaining content, like our Field Notes journal. I also love being the voice of our brand—quite literally, I’ve narrated our last few Kickstarter videos.

AdRoll: How long has Peak Design been an AdRoll customer? How did you come to work with the AdRoll team?

Adam: I believe we started working with AdRoll back in 2014. Our meeting story wasn’t super romantic—I think we responded to an automated CRM outreach email. But, we got to talking and we liked what we heard, so we gave it a go.

AdRoll: What products are you currently using?

Elish: We’re currently running AdRoll Prospecting and Retargeting campaigns on Facebook, which is a big channel for us. We’re also using AdRoll Prospecting and Retargeting to run ads across the web. We’re experimenting soon with AdRoll’s new SendRoll service.

AdRoll: What is the biggest challenge you face as digital marketers?

Elish: Attribution and availability of reliable data come to mind. In order to control our spend and adjust quickly, we need to know how our campaigns are performing. This most directly relates to our view on multi-channel attribution, where it’s difficult to understand the ROI across the entire marketing mix we use for each campaign.

As a small company, we are, of course, also resource-strapped. Adam and I are both jacks-of-all-trades, who tackle projects from start to finish. Adam designs most of our emails himself. I create the concept and design, while implementing all our ad collateral. So it’s a challenge to find enough time to iterate and refresh our campaigns fast enough. Have we legalized cloning yet?

Adam: Knowing what to do, and once we do it, measuring how we’re doing at it. Those marketers back in the ’80s had it easy—design an advertisement, put it in a magazine, hope it works. With the insane amount of digital tools and analytics available, there’s no end to the number of services, platforms, strategies, and tactics to use. We could spend our entire lives trying something new every week. There’s a ton of data you get from it and an equally endless number of ways to interpret it.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series next week.