The month of May is #designmonth at Kickstarter (TIPS within!)

Apparently, Kickstarter has been hosting events all year and I am just hearing about it.  (Perhaps because this brutal winter has had us in serious hibernation.)   So on Monday, I ventured out to Kickstarter's HQ in Greenpoint to check out  Kickstarter for Designers 101: From Prototype to Version One.  

We know Kickstarter brings creative projects to life by allowing entrepreneurs crowdfund their ideas.  Some very notable projects have been funded, but to have this kind of success, you have to have your shit together... for real.   

A few facts:
-  79% of projects that raise 20% will fully fund = tipping point. 
-  40% of projects launched successfully meet their goal and fund
-  Majority of projects raise between 1-10k. Just 431 campaigns have raised more than $100k.
Want more Kickstarter stats? Click here to geek out.

But first, the basic rules: you must have a prototype ready, you cannot offer financial incentives (only rewards) and no prohibitive items are allowed (like firearms, duh).   Once you have your ducks lined up, you set a funding goal for your project and must achieve it by your stated deadline.  It's an all-or-nothing crowdfunding model, so if you don't meet your goal, you don't get any of the money, you don't get charged any fees and those who did invest get their money back.  The idea with the all-or-nothing model is that it creates anticipation (a project must fund or die!) and de-risks investments on investors behalf.   In other words, a partially-funded project has a diminished likelihood of success.  

Three Kickstarter campaign champs took the stage to share their experiences about launching, managing and fulfilling Kickstarter campaigns. They made it clear it's no easy feat, but a blast overall.  Here's a synopsis of what they had to say:

Julie Kerwin of IAmElemental, action figures for girls.  Her mantra was "Less hooters, more heroine."  Brilliant!  Her concept goal was $35,000.  In 48 hours, she was fully funded and ended up raising $165k.  
What goes into creating a campaign video?   Research what's out there and see what you like.  It should not be more than 2 minutes. Put the product front and center.  (She doesn't like being on camera anyway.)
Tips on getting to on-time, on-budget fulfillment:  "Do everything you can possibly do to be organized and get everything into place before you launch your project."  In other words, plan ahead and stay crazy organized.  Also, part of Kickstarter's ethos is to bootstrap, dig into your community and be collaborative.... So, she researched and connected to the ladies of Ruminate (another Kickstarter campaign developing toys for girls) who introduced Julie to her factory.  This was a huge step to find a trustworthy manufacturer.    
Lessons learned: You're going to make mistakes but important to keep moving forward.  Key lesson was fulfillment must be organized in order to be efficient and well executed.  Ensure your goals are manageable. With respect to marketing, reach out to people!  For example, her husband reached out to DNA.info for an internview. Before they knew it, media outlets like Bloomberg and the collector community picked up the story and broadcast the message. It also helped that more and more people are talking more and more about female action figures, so try to figure out how you can "trend."  

Bird-3s.jpg

Dave & Calvin Laituri of Onehundred...  A father/son duo that create campaigns out of products that can be manufactured w/in 100 miles of Boston. With their 6th campaign underway, he's got some knowledge to share. 
What goes into creating a campaign video?  Don't need people in the videos as the products speak for themselves.  The videos should be fun and memorable.  N
obody wants a corporate sales presentation.  (Word.)
Tips on getting to on-time, on-budget fulfillment:  Work out all the production kinks, learning curves and potential mistakes during your prototype production process. This way, market production and distribution goes smoothly.
Lessons learned: Don't be quiet leading up to your launch - tell everyone about it and build as much momentum as you can before launching. If successful, you'll get about 1/3 of your pledges within 72 hours.  He started with a roster of 500 people from business cards he collected and, over time, he's built a roster of over 10,000 contacts to blast new campaigns.  It takes about 400 audience impressions to get 1 pledge... BUT with friends and family, it takes 200 impressions. Do not pay more than $5k to do PR!! 

Kellie Angood of the Pop-Up Pinhole Project...  A UK lass with skirty sass!  
What goes into creating a campaign video?  Not being in front of camera and allowing product to speak for itself.
Tips on getting to on-time, on-budget fulfillment:  You might get lots of push-back on your design and process from manufacturers, or they'll tell you it can't be done, but keep searching.  Also, many firms will have minimums that far surpass your wallet, so local firms are a better option. The first round of prototyping helps work out a lot of kinds, so the 2nd time around is much smoother. 
Lesson learned:  Get the word out early.  (She had an active Tumblr page and was involved with various photo blogs and culture.) Have fun with it!   She said she stressed out during her first campaign given the learning curves and drive to succeed.