Fundraising · Kickstarter

Any tips / advice on how to make the most out of a Kickstarter campaign?

Igor Kozlovski

October 10th, 2013

We just lunched Kickstarter campaign for Jotgram - location-based messaging service: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/97921238/jotgram-location-based-messaging-and-communication
Any tips on how to make successful campaign on Kickstarter will be greatly appreciated!
As a founder, you’re always in fundraising mode (whether active or passive). In this course, we’ll teach you how to successfully raise follow-on capital, establish a valuation for your company, build an investor pipeline for your next round, and more...

Kevin Coleman

October 10th, 2013

Drop this guy a message on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=15833418

Albin is a crowdfunding expert and helps teams create successful campaigns.  He is definitely the guy you should talk to about crowd funding advice.

Adam Porroni Entrepreneur / Criminologist / Developer

October 10th, 2013

As Kevin pointed out, if you know anyone or have connections to someone who has gone through at least a few KS/IndieGoGo/etc campaigns, talk to them!

Looking over Jotgram's KS page, there are a few things that either a) aren't clear were done already or b) should change - in my opinion.  Please don't read any of the following as brutal criticism, rather constructive review.  (Consider me as a source: I've been researching projects on KS and IndieGoGo for a few weeks for my own hobby project, backed almost two dozen projects of different sorts, and have been building connections in the industry that I'm specifically trying to reach.)

First of all, you need a crystal clear value proposition that ties directly to your target market - and of course, you need to know who that first target market is, because it in all reality can't be 'everyone' or 'Facebook/social-media users' - not saying that's what you think; it's just food for thought.  This is also needed because backers need to understand why your funding goal is right, since it essentially means "pay us 60k annual salaries" (100k / 3 person team = 34k...for 6 months of work; ergo around 60, 65k).  Specifically, I understand that there are different uses for Jotgram, but what is the primary use-case?  Is it primarily for teenagers trying to coordinate with their friends right after school in Atlanta?  Is it for businesses trying to make sure the community knows about their offers & deals?

Secondly, and this may be moot at this point, but you need to consider how KS or crowdfunding of any sort fits into your strategy for your business, because it seems like this is not a one-off KS project.  Because Jotgram relies on communication and has a relatively small are that a single user can broadcast directly to, broad crowdfunding may not be a great idea, but rather build a lot of support in and around Atlanta, especially in high-social-media-use neighborhoods.

Third, make connections - with industry experts, crowdfunding know-it-alls, and most importantly: customers.  Knowledge is power and market knowledge is fantastic - get smart people to review what your offering and doing.  Furthermore, crowdfunding success requires a crowd - even a small one - to be your evangelists, your financial backers, and your users.  Do you have customers/paying-users, testers, or general users?  If so, are they friends/co-workers or are they random people who have no incentive to stay on the site but the greatness of your product?

Lastly, KS relies heavily on the rewards and narrative (see value proposition, above) that you offer.  Have friends and potential customers review your page, read your rewards and see if they can tell you the same 'story' that you're trying to tell others.  Personally, some rewards were not immediately understandable and the prices did not make sense to me.  Specifically, I could not tell the difference between the $11 and $22 reward in regards to the value I get as a backer and the $333 reward is a very hard sell because how can one tell if having a 1mi x 1mi area sponsorship brings $200+ in revenue/influence rather than a 0.5mi x 0.5mi area at $99.  Especially when it is not clear how many customers you have.

Best of luck and looking forward to hearing from you!

Paul Bostwick

October 10th, 2013

The usual formula is to (sorry) not start until you have a good number of advocates already ready to jump in with $ at a few representative levels and to communicate to their networks to take a look etc The other advice I have head is to have all the announcements drafted, scheduled etc so you can just execute and not make anything up during the campaign period That may all be conventional wisdom but you asked for any tips good luck! -Paul =================== =================== Paul Bostwick paul@paulbostwick.com land 510-533-5678 mobile 510-872-8935 Developer of PV-Thermal Solar Collectors Hot Hybrids = 3x the power solarspork.blogspot.com white papers: State of the market for Hybrids (some context) Hot Hybrids (what I am working on) "Future comes by itself, progress does not" -Poul Henningsen =================== ===================

Adam Porroni Entrepreneur / Criminologist / Developer

October 10th, 2013

Thanks Paul.  You added some great references.  While this applies to my industry (games) more than anything, there's a blogger who is about to publish a book based on his KS lessons, found here: http://www.stonemaiergames.com/kickstarter/  There's a lot that covers pretty universal concepts rather than solely for board games or games in general.

By the way, the IBM link seems dead at the moment - they may be doing back-end work?

Igor Kozlovski

October 11th, 2013

Thank you everyone for the input and tips. Adam, great post! I am getting intros and connections on the local level (in Atlanta), but Jotgram is built to work anywhere in the world, since jotgram locations are based on lat/log instead of street address. It does broadcast messages on a local level but users can zoom in/out to any place, whether to see what's happening on Times Square or checking what's going on in Mission District, so it's not limited to Atlanta or neighborhoods. I'll post updates as I go along. Again, thanks for feedback! PS: Support us on Kickstarter: http://kck.st/GOa1Li

John Pettus Founder at Fiskkit

October 13th, 2013

Igor- I'm smack in the middle of an IndieGoGo campaign to raise funds and beta testers for Fiskkit- a site to crowdsource factchecking of political/news sites. (Boy do we need this more than ever...) Please feel free to ping me if you have any specific questions.

We got a great video made. That is key. Check it at http://igg.me/at/fiskkit.

The other thing I'll say is that you should be sure to align your campaign with your goals. For some it is important to get funding, others to get users, others a mix. We initially had our beta test perk at $25 until and advisor said "If you really want beta testers, get that number as low as possible." Since we're more concerned with getting some initial interested users, we dropped it to $5. 

The next thing I'll say is that running your campaign is basically a full-time marketing and PR job, while it's out. Also, there appears to be very little benefit to having a campaign any longer than 30 days, as the fundraising pattern is almost a big spike of people at the beginning, and a big spike of people at the end-- whenever that is. 30 days seems to be most optimal. 

Also, there are a coupe sites out there that analyze a bunch of the data that has been put out by Kickstarter. Not the least is this: http://www.kickstarter.com/blog/categories/data#p1 Study that for important insights. 

I'd love to hear from a bunch of founders what they think of our project to crowdsource truthiness and civility in online public discourse. (http:igg.me/at/fiskkit) Seems like we need it now more than ever. Also, I'm looking to meed technical folks who have a passion for public policy / the news / good discussion. If you are one of those people, or you have a buddy like that, please drop me a message. I'd really like to talk to you!

Best,
John

Candice Hughes, PhD, MBA

October 12th, 2013

Great thread! I am also researching how to conduct a successful crowdfunding/Kickstarter campaign. Some of the key elements have already been mentioned like build awareness in your target market before the campaign, get known sponsors on board before launching the campaign (get at least a few friends and family to commit to supporting you on launch day), test your materials prior to launch (including rewards, descriptions).

One way to improve the campaign is to study both successful and unsuccessful campaigns in your area to see what works and what doesn't.

Having a good video is critical. It doesn't have to be professionally created. If you are decent with video editing software, you can create your own. I've seen successful campaigns with what are clearly home-made videos. But all the successful ones told a compelling story.

I think the most important factor is not to just post the campaign and expect anyone to come to you. I am planning on working hard for 4 months building awareness before launching my campaign.

Rajen Sanghvi Vice President at PiinPoint

October 10th, 2013

Igor - my team and I put this together @ ShopLocket.  It's a Guide to Hardware Crowdfunding and Product Launches and you can download it for free here: http://bit.ly/14KnBu3
While I recognize that your product isn't hardware, I still think you may find a number of tips/hacks that'll help you out in your campaign. It's got over 75 pages of content and breaks it down step by step - video, website, generating press, getting featured etc. Check it out and let me know what you think.

- Rajen