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Launching for Success: Top Indiegogo Entrepreneurs Tell All

Some of the best tips for crowdfunding success, straight from the Indiegogo entrepreneurs who put them into action.
Launching for Success: Top Indiegogo Entrepreneurs Tell All
Image credit: Courtesy of Indiegogo
By Indiegogo

It’s a fact: Humans want to buy things from other humans. It sounds simple enough, but the human element is too often neglected in everyday commerce. Sure, people buy products from establishments big and small, but at the end of the day, consumers want to put their money toward products with a person behind them – products with a story to tell.

That’s why the most successful and innovative entrepreneurs often turn to Indiegogo to emphasize the human-to-human element of bringing their ideas to life. Not only does it help them tell a story about how their design came to life, it also helps them validate their product early on by discovering how people actually want to use it. It builds a connection between entrepreneurs and the community that supports them, so they can work together to launch an idea.

Evidence shows that when people know the stories behind a product, they’re likely to become just as passionate about them as the creators themselves. “In Indiegogo’s 10-year history, we’ve seen $1B+ raised by nearly 10 million backers. It’s incredible to see entrepreneurs and backers connecting at this scale around innovative products,” says Natasha Raja, VP of marketing at Indiegogo. “Not only do these backer connections drive more successful campaigns, the entrepreneurs also receive incredible real-time consumer feedback that shapes the vision for their product – leading to success on the platform and happy backers when the product ships worldwide. That’s a win-win.”

So, how do you tell your story and plan for crowdfunding success? Here are some of the best tips for making it happen, straight from the Indiegogo entrepreneurs who put them into action.

Build excitement early.

Building an audience is one critical part of successful entrepreneurship, especially when launching a crowdfunding campaign. But it takes time to find people that will love your idea and become as passionate about it as you are. That’s why successful innovators work to build their communities long before the campaign launches. After all, in order to be successful, they should plan to raise 30 percent of their fundraising goal in the campaign’s first 48 hours.

Jon Sumroy, creator of mifold, knew he needed to build momentum for his product long before the campaign launched. The mifold is a foldable child safety seat that kids can keep in their backpacks, so they can always be sure they have a safe way to ride in a car. Part of Sumroy’s strategy for the campaign was to become active in online parenting forums in the months leading up to the campaign. “Gradually we built up a social media following,” Sumroy says. “But we didn’t want to say what the product was exactly.” Sumroy and his team released teaser images and directed people to a pre-launch website where the only thing they could do was enter an email address while they waited for more details.

After six weeks, the mifold team finally unveiled the mifold booster by sending a product video to their small but dedicated following. After so much suspense, their audience was excited to back the project. When the campaign finally launched, it hit its $40k fundraising goal in two hours, and went on to far exceed the team’s original projections. “We started the campaign and suddenly the whole thing went mad,” Sumroy says. The mifold went on to raise $2.6M through crowdfunding, and Sumroy is launching a second campaign in June.

Turn your passion into an inspiring pitch video.

Backers may be drawn to innovative projects for the human connection, but it’s impossible for campaigners to meet all of their global backers in person. A video is the next best thing because it’s a way for backers to get to know the entrepreneurs they support, learn the story behind the project, and learn why they’re passionate about solving this problem.

For the makers of Flow Hive, a customer-facing video was a huge part of their success. Flow Hive is a revolutionary invention that lets beekeepers extract honey without opening the hive. Stuart and Cedar Andersen, the father-and-son team behind Flow Hive, used their video to demonstrate how Flow Hive allows apiculturists to harvest honey in the gentlest and easiest way possible -- by literally turning a tap to get fresh honey flowing. They found a common problem facing the industry and clearly showed how their product solved it. “You’ve got to explain how things used to be and how things are different now because of your product, and back it up with testimony from anyone who’s tried it,” Cedar Andersen explains. But equally as important as showing the product itself, the product video told the story of the family behind Flow Hive and created an emotional connection with the audience.

Within hours of posting, the video had over 1 million views. “A lot of people think you need a big budget to make a video, but all you need is a personal touch and to show how passionate you are about the project.” Andersen says. “We certainly didn’t have a big budget for ours -- we filmed it on an iPhone 4.” Thanks to their video, backers were able to see what their product was and why they should be interested -- as told from one human to another. The campaign went on to raise over $14M, making it one of the biggest crowdfunding successes of all time. Cedar and Stuart recently launched the Flow Hive 2, which is currently available through Indiegogo InDemand.

Tell your story to the crowd.

At its heart, crowdfunding tells a story. It shows how and why a product was conceived, and puts the people who created it at the center. Even established brands have a long history of using crowdfunding to test out new innovative ideas and tell the story behind a new product. It gives them a chance to create authentic connections with their customers and develop a narrative around a product launch.

That’s why crowdfunding has been a perfect fit for outdoor brand Cotopaxi. Cotopaxi was founded by a group of friends who wanted to create outdoor gear that would make the world a better place. The team ensured that their products were made under fair working conditions, and aimed to promote travel, inspire volunteerism, and reduce poverty. Cotopaxi already had a thriving ecommerce business, but they used crowdfunding to promote four separate products on Indiegogo. “Crowdfunding is the perfect way to tell a story,” says Anders Piiparinen, brand manager at Cotopaxi. “Indiegogo is a platform that’s built for storytelling. We couldn’t go out and design a full page that did all of that.”

Crowdfunding let them put themselves in front of their audience and explain every aspect of their feature-rich, environmentally-friendly designs. The story behind the product was just as important as the product itself. Cotopaxi has funded a tent, a travel pack, a sweater, and even socks on Indiegogo, collectively raising close to $2M.

Find the right channel.

MATE eBike, a lightweight, foldable electric bicycle, was conceived by brother and sister team Julie Kronstrøm Carton and Christian Adel Michael. They were born and raised in Copenhagen, where 41 percent of people bike to work. They wanted to create a hip, cool electronic bicycle -- something completely different than the clunky and unsightly eBikes that dominate the marketplace.

Carton and Michael knew that it was important to get the word out about their campaign in order for it to be successful, so they invested in advertising and media exposure from the very beginning of the campaign. “We got help from a Facebook advertising specialist and got new backers at a conversion price of roughly 4 percent of the revenue they brought in,” they say. “Fifty percent of our campaign sales came from Facebook.”

But they knew they couldn’t put all of their eggs in one basket. They spent their budget steadily throughout the campaign -- not just at the beginning or at the end -- and they tested different channels to find the best ways to attract more backers. “Hiring an agency to handle social media and advertising helped us stay focused on funding and production,” they say. “Once we were rolling, media coverage gave us some great spikes of awareness.” It’s a strategy that worked -- MATE eBike has raised over $6.4M on Indiegogo to date.

The key to a successful campaign: Backers.

Indiegogo is all about building audience connections. After all, humans really do want to buy things from other humans, and crowdfunding breaks down walls between buyer and creator.

“Backers are the lifeblood of Indiegogo, and the most successful campaigns always put backers first, building transparent relationships to win and keep their trust” adds Raja. “We can’t wait to continue working with entrepreneurs like mifold, Flow Hive, Mate and more to keep building these connections that launch incredible new ideas to bring innovative products to market.”

Ready to launch your own idea? Learn more about finding success with Indiegogo by checking out our resources for entrepreneurs or launching today.
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