I’ve never been to Vegas but I imagine the ups and downs a crowdfunding campaign puts you through to be similar to gambling. And make no mistake about it when you launch that crowdfund campaign you are making a very public bet.
Have you seen the show the History Channel is airing right now called, “The Men who made America,” well for me it seems aptly timed because I could use a little guidance and advice from Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Carnegie and JP Morgan. They all took big risks and in turn they all embraced the very real possibility of failure. We’ll take their lead and continue to battle to the very end but we’ve learned a few things along the way and if you’re in the same boat or thinking about setting sail you might learn something from us too.
The power of the press lies in timing
Timing. It’s everything, is it not? We missed the press surge about our Crash Sensor by about two weeks. We had well-established blogs, magazines and news publications from literally all over the world cover our idea. What we didn’t have was our crowdfunding campaign launched yet. If you can (and you can’t always control this) time it with the launch of your campaign or at least have your campaign launched when you go after the press. That being said, we’ve had some press tell us that they deflect about 10 crowdfunding projects a week so it may be better to not mention crowdfunding in your original pitch. Focus on the project or product itself to make the hook.
The right crowdfund platform
Kickstarter might be more recognizable as a crowdfunding platform but a week before we launched they made drastic changes to the projects they fund due to the rise of public criticism they were receiving about not fulfilling orders. We chose to launch with Indiegogo.
Indiegogo is actually very good to us. They had staff members fund our project of their own accord, they featured us on the homepage (several times) and they featured us on Twitter. In addition, Indiegogo has more international appeal because it allows international projects and as I stated earlier we’ve had interest from all over the world so that was good for us.
Friends and family?
For certain types of campaigns friends and family are your best bet at contributions. There are all sorts of “community” campaigns that are trying to help out a family, particular person from some tragedy. In those scenarios your friends and family want to help out and often feel helpless, contributing financially seems urgent and natural in those situations.
With our campaign it’s different. Our friends and family know us and think it’s a great idea but there’s a definite feeling of, “Oh that’s just Natalie’s latest thing…I’ll do it later.” Plus we’re already a company not necessarily a startup albeit a small business. Therefore, it seems in our campaign, our friends and family bias is working against us and they don’t’ feel the urgency to buy one right now which nicely segues into my next point.
There are a lot of people who don’t understand crowdfunding!
We’ve run into the issue of crowdfund education a lot. It sounds hoax-ey to people, “You want me to give you money? Where does it go?” They also don’t realize that we have a set deadline and that if we don’t meet that deadline we lose all the money we’ve earned.
Social media helps with visibility but not always with conversion.
We’ve gotten good at getting people’s attention on social media and email. We’ve got an awesome online community, they’re very engaging but for whatever reason…they don’t convert to being a crowdfund contributor.
If I had a dollar for every comment (online or off), “Such a cool idea. I want one!” we wouldn’t have to launch a crowdfund campaign.
You’re not Pebble and video game projects are going to kick your campaign’s ass
Okay, I could have easily written “Don’t compare too much.” This is much easier said than done, trust me. We’ve tried to emulate some of the more successful projects but I gotta tell you, when you browse campaigns and see that Dungeon and Dragons miniatures are at three times your funding level it’s a blow. Minimize your campaign browsing, you’ll thank me later when you look when your campaign is done.
Don’t give up!
It can be disheartening but I strongly believe we shouldn’t give up no matter what. We may fail to reach our crowdfunding goal and this may not be the right funding model for us but I really believe we have to go full blast to the end. It’s an amazing product and everyone agrees that it’s a brilliant idea. I know we’re on to something. As a cyclist and the wife of a competitive cyclist I truly believe this is a revolutionary piece of technology that I want in my life. I also gain a lot of inspiration from my team who is extremely bright and creative. It really helps to have a team.
And what kind of marketing person would I be if I didn’t add…
Pre-order an ICEdot Crash Sensor! Hurry….only 15 days left!!
2/19/13 UPDATE: ICEdot did indeed end up going with another funding model and the first round will be on the market this Spring. (2013). For more info go to: https://icedot.org/crash