What caused what, again?

Kickstarter: Cause vs. Correlation

Browsing today I came across this nice deck by the Hardware Club folks. It lists a number of tips to run successful Kickstarters. READ THIS ONE FIRST.

After 35 campaigns at HAX, and many discussions with creators and Kickstarter staff, we keep having trouble decoupling cause from correlation. I’ll take this chance to comment on the tips given here.

#1 Build a Strong Community Before Launching

Of course if you can, it can only help. But there are additional elements to consider:

  • How long will it take?
    If you wait to have 10,000 followers to pull the trigger, it might take a long time.
  • How much effort?
    Is this time well spent vs. organizing interviews or building products or distribution deals?
  • How much does it really help?
    Our measure is that about 5–10% of the signups to a mailing list will convert into backers (your mileage varies with the source of emails, cost of products, etc.). That means 10,000 emails will sell 500–1,000 units. If your device is $50, that’s only $25–$50,000. Not a bad start, but not a $500k campaign. In other words, the mailing list will likely yield a very small percentage of the total. Maybe better to focus on the other likely sources of backers, which is often targeted media.
  • How much will it cost?
    If you’re getting emails through Facebook ads or else, one click could easily be $0.5-$1 or more (for a well targeted audience). Let’s say 50% sign up. That’s at least $1 per email. Then you reactivate them when you launch. If you imagine a 10% (high! most e-commerce sites don’t get that, barely 1–3%) conversion rate to a backer means a backer costs you $10. Most likely that will be rather $50 with all the drops from the ad click but still. It’s not a cheap thing if you sell low-cost devices.
    Note: just think that Skully had 150,000 emails and did “only” $2.4M.
  • Do you really need it?
    Many successful campaigns did little to nothing to gather a community. They just got great media coverage.

#2 Meet Your Customers and Test Your Product Before Launching

That’s a given :) finding who your customers are, and where to find them is also part of the job.

#3 Meet Journalists and Bloggers Before Launching

If you are in SF or NYC you can demo live. Otherwise it’s all online. Journalists get hundreds of pitches a day so their attention threshold is pretty high. Warm intros or outstanding videos / pitches help. Journalists like a laugh or a strange thing. They are people too!

#4. Fine-Tune Your Crowdfunding Page and #5 Continually Produce Content to Maintain Momentum

Do more updates or versions of the page lead to more success or do better preparation and success lead to more updates?

Getting a new media peak mid-campaign media is quite rare. Still, new content can motivate existing backers to up their pledge or spread the word.

#6 Have a Working++ Prototype, #7 Have the (almost) Final Design, #8 Know How to Manufacture the Product Before launching

This is also the HAX approach. Some platforms and backers are more tolerant. It’s about managing expectations on the backer side, and de-risking product and manufacturing on the creator side. Backers rarely like being the sponsors of your manufacturing and design education, or guinea pigs for a product that might not deliver on specs, or might not ship at all.

#9 Take Timing Into Account

Some products are seasonal. People are in the mood to buy at particular times. Keep that in mind for your campaign but also for delivery dates!

#10 Have a Strong, Organized Team to Handle the Campaign

Whatever you can afford. Best done internally, generally.

#11 Take Time to Prepare Your Campaign

But not so much that someone else beats you to it! Ideas are in the air.

Partner @ SOSV — $700m VC fund for Deep Tech (biology, robotics, etc.) | Digital Naturalist | Keynote Speaker | Angel Investor

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store