After watching crowd-funding for several years with great interest, I recently decided Trident, my product commercialization company, would try our hand at it with Quickey, a one piece, key-shaped multi-tool designed to open mail and packages. Our 60-days campaign on Indiegogo far exceeded our wildest expectations with contributions totaling $221,619 from 7,460 backers. More than 35,000 Quickeys were earned as perks.
Related: The Basics of Crowdfunding
Dozens of campaigners have approached us for advice, so here are my three lessons for success with crowdfunding.
1. Do your research. We put a tremendous amount of time into researching best practices for crowdfunding. We read articles here in Entrepreneur and eBooks by successful campaigners, listened to podcasts like the New Disruptors and interviewed successful campaigners. Dozens of little touches contributed to our success. We borrowed ideas from the best. We didn't wing it.
An important consideration is which platform to use. Kickstarter is by far the most famous, followed distantly by Indiegogo in terms of traffic. We choose Indiegogo, mainly because Kickstarter won't let you offer multiples of your item as a perk. Quickey is low-cost and ideal for a promotional item. We wanted to offer multi-packs to encourage larger contributions. A second important reason was we wanted to be a big fish in a small pond, not a small fish in a big pond.
Is your product a good fit for crowdfunding in the first place? Pick something you know is within your reach so you are not setting yourself up for a monumental struggle to fulfill your obligations. Backers are, currently, predominantly male and skewed younger. Items geared towards parents and older ladies aren't likely to fare well on the current platforms. It's easy to see what kinds of items do well by researching the sites.
Related: 10 Top Crowdfunding Websites
2. Execute with excellence. Strive to do a very good job in every aspect of the campaign. That includes perk structure, your video, the voice of your written copy, product name, project icon, graphics, logos, update strategy, customer service, date realism, prototypes, pricing accuracy, photography, your referral program, communication of benefits and your marketing strategy. Show up as a professional company good at what you do. Your campaign will be better constructed and more appealing. That instills confidence in your backers.
Of course, it's most important that the design of your actual product is excellent. You have to create something people will want. No matter how well you execute your campaign, product is king. Never skimp on design!
3. Make it happen. Without good marketing we would have been a “tree falling in the forest.” Indiegogo told us projects that get 30 percent of their funding goal in the first 24 hours have a much greater chance of success. The night we launched the project we had a phone bank in our office. Our employees hung out, drank beer and competed for a prize to see who could generate the most referrals through Facebook posts, phone calls and tweets to friends and relatives. Within 24 hours we had met our goal of $4,000.
That early momentum made us much more interesting to media, who started running stories. That moved us up the ranks on Indiegogo's pages, which led to more sales that led to more press and even better ranking. This virtuous cycle landed us on the front page and then in their newsletter, which catapulted us into the stratosphere. None of this would have happened without the first, big push.
Crowdfunding success, like so many things, comes down to preparation, execution and will power. If you have questions or your own secrets to share, leave them in the comments. Happy inventing!
Related: Become a Crowdfunding Wizard: 8 Tips You've Probably Never Heard Before