Crowdfunding is an effective way for entrepreneurs to launch their companies without much capital investment. Instead of buying loads of inventory up front, crowdfunding enables entrepreneurs to judge the demand for their product while helping them fund their first production run.
We didn’t have the money to fund our first production run when launching my startup, Yes Man, so we turned to Kickstarter. People supported us by pre-ordering one of our watches. The money from preorders funded our first production run.
Yes Man is now onto its second crowdfunding campaign to fund the first production run of our sunglasses. After launching two successful campaigns and advising plenty more, I have compiled a checklist of 8 steps to prepare for your campaign.
1. Develop your story. Crowdfunding is all about stories. Unlike traditional websites that focus on products, people on crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo want to know how you turned your idea into a reality. Explaining why you need their support is just as important as the product you are pitching.
2. Write your video script. Be sure to have the storyboard of your crowdfunding video dialed in before you plan to shoot. In my first campaign, we worked on our video for over 30 hours because we didn’t know how we wanted our video to look. Plan your video ahead so you don’t waste time.
3. Shoot your video. Almost anything works for a crowdfunding video but if you’re looking for a more professional video that doesn’t break the bank, reach out to the university in your area. Chances are you can find an experienced student willing to work for cheap in exchange for a chance to build their portfolio.
4. Product photos. The presentation of your product while crowdfunding is very important. Taking the time to find professional photographers is completely worthwhile. For Yes Man, we were fortunate to connect with a friend who ran Rapid Eye Studios in San Diego. Utilize your network to find people who are willing to work for a discounted rate.
5. Your website. Having your company’s website completed is not crucial but is recommended. A website further validates you are a legitimate company, which crowdfunding supporters like to see. All you need is a landing page that gives some more information about your company.
6. Crunch your numbers. It is essential to know how many units you need to sell to reach your crowdfunding goal. This will put your goal in perspective. When we launched our first campaign, I knew to surpass our $15,000 goal we needed to sell 152 watches at $99 each.
7. PR outreach. An often overlooked part of crowdfunding is spreading the word. Many project creators assume their projects will somehow automatically get noticed.
Reach out to media outlets that cover your type of campaign. An effective way to find the right media outlets is through a Google Image search. Simply take a photo from a similar campaign and upload it to Google. Google will then display all blogs, newspapers and other media that have covered that campaign.
8. Submission. Sites like Kickstarter use their own guidelines to accept or deny a campaign. They don’t accept all crowdfunding projects. That may be obvious to many but wasn’t to me when I launched our first crowdfunding campaign. The approval process can take a few days and may require you to make some changes to your campaign. Be sure to submit your campaign at least two weeks prior to your launch.
Crowdfunding is the perfect way to bring your product to market. It enables you to judge demand and help fund your production run. Be sure you know before you launch how you will produce your product and how much each unit will cost.
Though dozens of campaigns surpass their crowdfunding goal, many more fail unnoticed. Using these steps, I hope you are closer to your next successful crowdfunding campaign!