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Kickstarter & Crowdfunding

Prerequisites:

  • Prototyped and debugged design
  • Approximate per-unit cost & sale price
  • A story with social proof

Tools:

  • Copywriting
  • Video production

Next Step:

Now you’ve moved into production, but if you don’t have a way to finance mass manufacturing, or you are in need of distribution, or you want to reduce risk and pre-sell your product you may want to investigate crowd-funding.

Lately there are a number of newly popular platforms for funding creative works, of which Kickstarter is probably the most well known. The basic idea is an artist with a project in need of financing, documents their project on the website which is then promoted to the community of project backers. The backers pledge any amount of money and often get different rewards depending on the amount they pledge to a project. The only caveat is that if a project doesn’t reach a certain minimum level of funding it gets nothing.

Kickstarter and other crowd-funding platforms are adamant that they are NOT pre-sales tools, but rather tools for donating towards or investing in projects that you want to see come to life (albeit without a security or even an investment worthy return). And while people may continue to use these platform as pre-sales channels, and while backers may continue to expect a return on their investment, it is strongly within the platform’s interest to feature and support projects that will be successful. The more prepared you are going in, the better the story you can tell, and the more you can show social proof suggesting you will be successful - the more likely your project will get selected for funding, and the more likely you will raise your target.

There is a growing negative sentiment towards physical products funded on Kickstarter as they very rarely ship “on-time” and many of the companies launching products have even folded (after they received the funds) and failed to ship anything at all. To combat these failures there are a growing number of pre-sales platforms, which differ from crowd-funding in only that you the customer are guaranteed to receive a product (or your money back) and often even within a certain timeframe.

Regardless of your preference both represent large distribution channels which you can use to get your product in front of the market. If you are building a mainstream consumer product that appeals to the demographics of one of these channels it may be worth running a campaign simply for the exposure.

If you do chose to crowd-fund or pre-sell you will need to tell a great story, demonstrate pre-existing social proof, and come across as likely to deliver on your promises. Spend due time on the copy for your product and story of how you came to develop it. And if you choose to include a video consider hiring a professional film crew with the right skills and equipment to tell your story and showcase your product in the best light possible.

Once you’ve raised sufficient funds to mass-manufacture your product you’re ready to begin that process. Hopefully you still don’t need to design whatever it was you raised funds to produce.

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