Unless you have very wealthy relatives or friends, it can be hard to have people who can bank their money against your business especially when it’s just starting up because of obvious reasons that the majority of business startups fail before their one-year anniversary.
This is a bad PR but if you have a big vision for what you’re creating and believe in its success, then it might be ideal to seek funds from unconventional methods which is mainly crowdfunding.
In fact, big businesses do it too especially when they want to release a product. This means of funding help to know whether there is really a market for that product or service. A good example would be Xiaomi which was crowdfunding the research and development of its own dynamic island feature for its future smartphones.
With the advent of crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, entrepreneurs now have more avenues to fund their creative ideas and innovative projects. Embracing this opportunity can lead to fruitful outcomes and help validate the feasibility of pioneering endeavors.
The Appeal of Kickstarter
Kickstarter, as described by Nick Yulman, the platform’s senior curator for design and tech, is a hub for bringing creative ideas to life.
It is open to anyone with a novel concept seeking validation and support. For those embarking on unexplored paths, Kickstarter acts as a litmus test, gauging the interest and backing for their endeavors.
Success Rates and Targeted Categories
While Kickstarter offers immense potential, it is vital to recognize that crowdfunding is no walk in the park. Only about 36 percent of all Kickstarter campaigns meet their fundraising goals.
Success rates differ across categories. For instance, technology projects face tougher odds, with only one in five campaigns achieving their objectives. Conversely, theater and dance projects enjoy higher success rates, often due to strong local community support for live performances.
This is not to say your tech startup’s campaign won’t succeed but it means you need to strategize and understand how the market works. This can in fact aid your market research in understanding the needs and wants of your target market.
Is Kickstarter the Right Fit for Your Venture?
Before diving into a Kickstarter campaign, entrepreneurs should assess whether this crowdfunding platform aligns with their goals. Three key questions can serve as guiding pillars:
- Do you have a specific and well-defined project to fund?
- Could you benefit from primary market research to validate your idea?
- Do you possess a compelling story that resonates with potential backers?
Launching Your Kickstarter Campaign
The first essential step is to ensure your project fits the criteria of a “project” on Kickstarter. It must have a clear goal and produce something tangible or intangible, such as an album, book, gadget, or artwork.
Additionally, creators must meet certain requirements, which can be found in the Creator Handbook.
For businesses seeking funding and product validation, platforms like Kickstarter offer a promising gateway. Quinn Popcorn, for example, utilized Kickstarter to gauge public interest in their healthier snack products and received invaluable support from the engaged Kickstarter audience.
By tapping into this enthusiastic community, creators can receive vital feedback and build a loyal following.
The Technology Category’s Triumphs
Among Kickstarter’s 15 categories, technology projects have emerged as trailblazers. Notable success stories like Pebble and the Oculus Rift demonstrated the potential of the smartwatch and virtual reality markets.
Tech entrepreneurs, especially those seeking to prove the viability of new intellectual property, can find crowdfunding to be a suitable option.
The Superbook, a revolutionary laptop powered by a USB-attached Android phone, serves as a remarkable case study of Kickstarter triumph.
The creators, Andrew Jiang and Gordon Zheng set an initial modest goal of $50,000. However, they not only surpassed it within minutes but raised nearly $3 million from over 16,000 supporters, solidifying the Superbook as one of Kickstarter’s most-funded computer hardware projects.
The Key to a Successful Launch
Building momentum before the launch is pivotal to a Kickstarter campaign’s success. By following these critical steps, creators can maximize their chances:
- Connect with websites and social networks that resonate with the target audience to build authentic relationships.
- Encourage potential backers to sign up for an email list to stay updated on the campaign’s progress.
- Remind them regularly to visit the Kickstarter page on the launch day, offering early rewards to incentivize participation.
Crowdfunding has emerged as a powerful tool for entrepreneurs and businesses to bring their innovative ideas to life. Kickstarter, as a leading platform, has democratized the funding process, enabling creators to receive validation and support directly from their target audience.
By understanding the dynamics of crowdfunding, leveraging community engagement, and executing well-planned campaigns, aspiring entrepreneurs can set their ventures on the path to success.
Preparing for Launch: Building Anticipation
For Andrew Jiang and his team behind the Superbook, success on Kickstarter was not a matter of chance but of meticulous planning.
Four months before the campaign launch, they began cultivating an audience by reaching out to strong Android developer communities like XDA.
They encouraged interested readers to sign up for email updates on their website, which garnered an impressive 20,000 people on the Superbook email list. With teasers, insights, and calendar invites, they drummed up excitement for the big day, sweetening the deal with “early bird specials” for the first 100 backers.
Such a well-executed start can lead to a virtuous cycle, propelling a campaign to Kickstarter’s list of trending projects, which attracts further backers and media attention.
Thus, it is crucial to have a communication plan and a compelling promotional video ready before the launch.
Rewards that Engage and Elevate
When planning a Kickstarter campaign, it is essential to consider what rewards to offer backers.
While the product itself is the obvious choice, successful creators often take it a step further by offering tiered rewards that keep supporters engaged with the brand or let them actively enhance the product.
For instance, Oculus rewarded its top backers with an invitation to their exclusive Oculus lab, fostering a deeper connection with their supporters.
Tailoring rewards to match the desires of the target audience is crucial. For instance, the Chinese phone manufacturer ZTE learned this the hard way when its Project Crowd Source X (CSX) campaign on Kickstarter failed.
They realized that offering Project CSX features on a midrange phone didn’t resonate with backers. The lesson? Offer rewards that align with your audience’s expectations and aspirations.
Effective Communication is Key
Communication is the lifeblood of a Kickstarter campaign. Once the campaign is live, prompt responses to questions and feedback are vital.
Creators should provide information on their Kickstarter page and explore different platforms like Reddit AMA to engage with their backers effectively.
ZTE’s Jeff Yee highlights the demand for real-time information in the Kickstarter community, emphasizing the importance of quick answers to questions.
Frequent updates and transparent communication can foster a sense of community and trust between the creators and their backers.
A Kickstarter campaign can be a rollercoaster ride with both ups and downs. Creators should be prepared to face challenges like not reaching the funding goal or experiencing overwhelming success.
If a project falls short of its goal, creators need not worry about refunds, and they can relaunch the project once they feel ready. Kickstarter retains access to the dashboard and allows communication with backers to maintain engagement.
On the other hand, if a campaign surpasses expectations, creators must gear up to meet higher demands. Additional resources, efficient manufacturing, and attentive communication with backers are essential to ensure a smooth experience for everyone involved.
Launching Multiple Kickstarter Campaigns
Kickstarter is often viewed as a platform for new ideas, but it has also been used successfully by entrepreneurs and organizations for multiple campaigns.
While some stories end on a sour note due to various reasons, companies like Moment and Makeblock have found continued success through multiple Kickstarter endeavors.
Launching multiple campaigns can be a viable strategy, but it is essential to evaluate the business’s stability and positioning.
An established company relying on crowdfunding too often might raise concerns among backers. However, for startups seeking support and a passionate community, Kickstarter remains a legitimate path to success.
From the triumph of the Superbook to the experiences of established companies like Quinn Snacks, Kickstarter has proven to be a powerful ally for founders and entrepreneurs.
Meticulous planning, engaging rewards, effective communication, and adaptability are key factors that can turn a campaign into a resounding success. As the platform continues to foster innovation and creativity, creators will find Kickstarter to be a fertile ground for transforming their dreams into reality.
With passion, determination, and the support of their backers, founders can pave their path to the next level of success.