I had my lightbulb moment while I was working in a startup in London. Uberpong was going to combine ping pong with great graphic design. The aim was to make table tennis more fun and make it the most played sport in the US. I moved to Austin, TX from London, England at the end of February 2012 and promptly launched my first Kickstarter project in July. 30 days later, we had reached our goal and ended up on $10,390.
Here are a few things that worked for me:
1. Have a truly remarkable idea
There is so much noise on the web and a lot of excellent projects on Kickstarter. You will hear a lot of people telling you it is not the idea but rather the execution that will make you successful. This is true in some cases but I really believe on Kickstarter it is all about the idea. Go beyond your friends or family for opinions of your product or service. Ask complete strangers in your industry for their critical feedback. On Kickstarter, you can tell pretty quickly if your idea is a remarkable one or not.
2). Make a great video
As the bar rises on Kickstarter and more people add projects on the site, you have to stand out. A shaky iPhone video is not going to cut it. Viewers need to trust you and your message in less than 30 seconds. If the video is well made, edited with good music and has a clear message, it will be easier for people to decide whether they should back you. We used Moth to Flame and they did a great job.
3). Collaboration means more exposure
Kickstarter and Amazon payments don’t offer this service for nothing. They want to get paid. Between them, they take nearly 10% of the overall amount you raise. So if you can encourage collaboration in your project, this means more people will be talking about it, pledging and therefore your chance of being successfully funded goes up. We built a small design community for the Uberpong project and incentivized the designers by offering them 20% of the sales of their designs. It meant that most of them promoted this within their networks to ensure we hit our target and in doing so, they made revenue.
4). Solve a problem or change the world
When selling anything, you have to make the product exciting and satisfy a need or solve a problem. Alternatively, do something that changes the world. With Uberpong, we wanted to show people that what they had now was boring and colorless. The game of table tennis lacked aesthetics and we wanted to change this. We got a lot of support from the ping pong community and bloggers who identified with this.
5). Go for an achievable target
I have seen many campaigns fail on Kickstarter because the company asked for too much money. If you only need $5k, then ask for $5k. Remember, if you don’t hit the target, you get nothing so it is better to go slightly lower and exceed your target rather than the other way round.
6). Offer enticing rewards
Nobody wants a reward description to read: “One ping pong paddle”. They know that Kickstarter is the birthplace of many cool ideas so make it sound exclusive. “A first edition Uberpong ping pong paddle with the design of your choice (from 20 different designs from international artists)” sounds a little more intriguing.
7). Have an existing community
As Seth Godin proved when he launched a book on Kickstarter, if you have an existing community when you launch your Kickstarter, you can immediately turn to them as early adopters of your product. This community alone can help you hit your target and any other pledges you get from the Kickstarter community is a bonus.
8). Use Kickstarter’s Analytics
Within a few days of launching Uberpong, I could see that Facebook was giving us the most pledges. After 30 days, the same was true. This is priceless information to have at your fingertips because you can identify which channels are working on focus on these. As a result of this approach, we got 51 pledges and a total of $2045 pledged.
9). Get into the local media
When you pitch to your local press, make it clear you are also local. They will typically get behind local businesses and help get your story out. We got into CultureMap and got four pledges in a day after the article went live.
10). Have good photos of your product
I was lucky enough to have a friend who was a photographer (Ryan Pollack) who took some great photos. We sent these out with press releases and these images were published in Australia, The Netherlands, Spain, England and Japan.
If you have any more questions about my experiences with Kickstarter, catch me at a EuroCircle Austin event or connect with me on twitter @davidjlowe.