Before the inception of fundraising sites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, bringing an idea to life required an immense amount of work. Now the process has been enhanced and accelerated thanks to the internet and individuals with money who are inspired by new concepts and products.
While these sites may have enabled individuals to materialize their ideas with greater simplicity, there is still a lot of work and know how required to produce a successful campaign. Especially when considering all the other individuals asking for financial contributions for their products, ambitions and—occasionally—their bills.
On a recent Reddit post, Eddie Lee, the man behind a series of entrepreneurial endeavors, posted a thread called “I’ve raised over 1.7 million dollars on Kickstarter. Ask Me Anything! AMA!”. On the thread he explains his previous and current campaigns before offering answers for anyone who has a desire to learn more about the fundraising process, and how to make it a success.
Below are a few of the most popular questions and responses on the thread, along with a few questions from StartupBeat speaking directly with Lee.
Reddit User– How soon before the kickstarter starts do you recommend advertising it to your stakeholders? We have an audience for a future kickstarter but I don’t know if 3 months, 6 months, a year is best to start letting them know to expect it. I don’t want them to get tired of the idea before it even starts. Thanks!
Lee – 3 months is a looong time and things always change (maybe even your launch date). You can consider asking your fans to join an exclusive Facebook group where you can provide updates and keep people engaged in a non-spammy way.
As far as direct response, I think 2 weeks is enough time as first notice, maybe a month if it’s a product that you intend on educating them further on as the weeks go by. We learned by trial and error that a higher price point product takes more education and walkthrough then our other impulse-buy products, where an email on the day of launch was enough (and most effective).
Reddit User – What percent of buyers discover you via Kickstarter versus elsewhere online? How do you find backers successfully?
Lee – The majority of our customers are from Kickstarter. Our camera is online and at retailers such as Urban Outfitters and Nordstrom, but Kickstarter is really an amazing place where we find strong support in a short amount of time. Life after is difficult in its own way, for sure.
I could go on for hours about that second questions. Short answer is, word of mouth is very important, including press. So you need to have a compelling product with clear messaging. Then you can drive traffic to your page through ads and amplify that with press and other methods.
StartupBeat – What is the biggest problem you faced during your campaigns?
Lee – The biggest problem we faced was manufacturing setbacks. Either there was a design flaw that became only apparent after needing to make 30,000 of something, or a supplier in China didn’t do something up to our standards (either through miscommunication or trying to slide one by us to save money), or simply completely unexpected occurrences (like finding an orange instead of a product in one of the packages, and having to stop production and check all the others to make sure it was an isolated incident).
StartupBeat – What you did to overcome it?
Lee – Overcoming it starts with a hard choice; do you prioritize quality, speed, or low cost when you choose a path? It’s pretty much impossible to have all 3. As a new company, we decided to focus on quality first, then speed if at all possible. Pinching pennies in the beginning is not the way to earn your first fans.
StartupBeat – If you have any general advice for our readers about launching a kickstarter campaign?
Lee – As far as general advice for a new campaign, I’d recommend you be prepared to do 90% of the work before your campaign launches, up to as much as two months in advance. It’s not enough to make something cool and expect people to come, or even understand what it is. Kickstarter is a unique platform and you MUST understand your unique customer, the crowdfunding backer, so get as much help as you can and do your best. You get one first impression and your page will be up there forever.
While fund raising might not be the best approach for every startup, it can be the best way for some great ideas to take off and hit the ground running. If you feel you could benefit from learning more about Kickstarter Campaigns, Lee also provides crowdfunding tips using an online course here, and currently, has a Kickstarter campaign for his new product Belle which you can support here.