Crowdfunding Series: Overview
Once upon a time, gatekeeping in the business world made it nearly impossible to get an idea off the ground on a smaller scale. This is where the idea of crowdfunding came in. Crowdfunding started as a way to bridge the gap between good ideas and people who can invest in those ideas. It has become an innovative way to connect people to products.
There are a number of crowdfunding platforms to choose from, all of which offer something different. And although Kickstarter has become synonymous with crowdfunding, it is important to consider all of your options as they range in fees, campaign specificity, and features. These options include GoFundMe, Indiegogo, Patreon, Appbackr, etc. Do your research and choose wisely.
Kickstarter is probably the most popular and universal of the crowdfunding platforms. In their own words, Kickstarter is a global community built around bringing creative projects to life. This platform allows you to create a campaign aimed at turning an idea into a reality. People can pledge money to an idea or product with the promise of some kind of compensation pending the success of the campaign. Since Kickstarter’s launch in 2009 over 2 billion dollars have been pledged for Kickstarter projects with over 111,000 projects successfully funded.
Our Expert: John Coveyou
TechArtista’s very own Kickstarter guru John Coveyou offers us some valuable insight on how to ‘Kickstart’ your dream. Not only has John successfully funded a number of campaigns for his own business Genius Games, he actually teaches a course on Kickstarter at Webster University. Lets just say he knows his stuff.
How to decide if your product is good enough for Kickstarter or crowdfunding:
"You want it to be the kind of thing that people are willing and wanting to pay money for and share about.” John describes an analogy that compares a sneezing panda video to milk, eggs, and bread. “People are certainly willing to pay money for milk, eggs and bread but not excited enough to share about it. On the other hand people will share a sneezing panda video all day long but it is not likely that they would be willing to pay for it. A kickstarter product needs both.”
One major misconception:
“If I build it they will come.” Kickstarter will bring more people to a campaign that already has a crowd. Like google, their algorithms are designed to promote the already popular content. It is important to establish a following before you launch to ensure that you gain more of a crowd and in turn more funding. So nailing down a target demographic and reaching out to that demographic is a must before officially launching.
All or nothing platform, raise all the money or get none of it:
Although this feature can be scary for some, John thinks that this is the only way to do it. It lets everyone off the hook if there is not enough interest in the product. This all or nothing approach is designed to be more full proof because it protects the backer’s money as well as allowing the campaign to “jump ship” if it doesn’t generate the necessary funds. If it was not this way than a campaign that only raised half the money would be stuck having made a promise to backers that they can’t deliver on.
Resources for someone who wants to launch a kickstarter campaign:
While launching his own kickstarter campaign John used several resources that helped him through the process. A course called Kickstarter Essentials at Lynda.com, Funding the Dream by Richard Bliss and Kickstarter Lessons by Jamie Stegmaier.
Keys to a successful kickstarter campaign:
Ensure you have a high quality product
Get people excited about the product
Build audience around that product
With the help of John and a number of other masters of their crafts at TechArtista, we will do our best to bring you the ins and outs of Kickstarter. This succinct explanation of Kickstarter is not meant to be everything you need to launch an awesome campaign. Instead, consider it a friendly push in the right direction. In Part 2 of this series we will be diving a little deeper into the storytelling aspects of Kickstarter, so stay tuned.
John’s Kickstarter story began in 2012, “I was working as an engineer and teaching classes at St. Louis Community College when I noticed that students were having a hard time getting engaged. I wanted to make the information more accessible, and as a long time gamer I immediately considered gaming as a way to engage students.” John began working on a game with the understanding that it was “bad,” as everyone’s first designs are. He then decided that he would start working on a bunch of games to teach himself how to become a better designer. It seems that all his practice paid off. “Some friends of mine thought that one of the games about genetics was really good and suggested that I publish it.” After some researching John decided he would try to publish the game on his own. A little more digging led him to Kickstarter and the rest is history. He launched the game on kickstarter and since has successfully funded five games and a set of children’s books. Now John teaches a Game Design course and a Kickstarter course at Webster University while contuing to kickass with his own business, Genius Games, on the third floor of TechArtista.