2014 could end up being the year that Kickstarter has officially “made it.” The crowdfunding platform recently announced $1 billion in pledges, and saw a big win with Facebook's $2 billion purchase of Oculus Rift, one of Kickstarter's big success stories.
Kickstarter has successfully taken that ‘beta’ feel and given the opportunity for it to be applied across nearly every industry. Raising $913 per minute in 2013, backers funded just about every type of project imaginable, from saving independent movie theaters to skate parks and funding video games, music albums and more. But is it okay to come back for seconds? Can a second Kickstarter campaign be as successful as the first? The answer is yes, but prepare to work a little harder!
My company, designed by m, just recently launched our second Kickstarter campaign. The question I always get is, “was it easier this time?” It wasn’t. I like to compare it to a sophomore album from your favorite band. Everyone loved the first one, you’ve had some level of success, but now you have a whole slew of backers and customers who are expecting you to surpass your last product. Put simply -- the pressure is daunting. Your supporters want to see more of the same and oftentimes want to have a voice in the process. Sure, you know what to expect with the basics, such as the application and timelines, but beyond that, a second Kickstarter campaign is a whole different ballgame.
Here are a few things to consider before launching a round two:
What are the benefits? Just like any other sequel, you can use the information from the first round to make version two even better. Second campaigns often fund faster because of the credibility you have with an existing community of people who are willing to advocate for your brand and help you grow your customer base. With this also comes the voice of previous backers. You will have to manage them, and they’ll want to know what they get for being previous supporters. Although it can get a bit laborious, take care of them! They were the ones who believed in you first and will be your biggest promoters if handled with care and appreciation. However, if you lose control, they can singlehandedly tank your project.
How do you reward your original backers without giving away too much? Preparation and communication. Have a game plan in place and decide what you’re willing to do before you have the first conversation. If you’ve been in communication with them all along, you’ll know what to expect and have the appropriate response ready to address any needs or requests head on. You have to be accessible to your backers or you will lose control of the message. Your backers are willing to forgive you if you do mess up, but be sure to be transparent and address their concerns immediately. Don’t make the same mistake twice!
When do I pull the trigger on my second campaign? There is no right or wrong answer to this, but make sure that your first version is shipped and given some breathing room before you launch the second. Too many people know what it feels like to renew a contract right before the latest iPhone is released, and it doesn’t feel good. Don’t do this to your backers if you can help it. However, if you do, take care of your community. Offer previous backers something that will make them feel like you value them. We offered future proofing so they would be taken care of if the iPhone 6 comes out in the very near future. You could also offer a discount, a free upgrade or a special version only available to them. Whatever you choose, don’t forget how you got to where you are.
If you’ve been successfully funded on Kickstarter, give yourself a pat on the back! For all the projects that have been funded over the past five years, there are more that haven’t been successful. Stay true to your vision, be timely and considerate of the rollout and take care of your backers. Handling every step with care will ensure your second round of funding and a whole new community of believers.