Kickstarter: What is it Good For?

As a coworking space with a focus on early stage startups, it should come as no surprise that Kickstarter campaigns are a regular occurrence at TechArtista. In our first year, TA members raised over $1 million through their different Kickstarter campaigns, learning a lot along the way.

As our community grows, we like to have our experienced members share what has and hasn't worked for them with the larger startup community. This month, we featured three current members and one alumnus in our Kickstarter themed Lunch & Learn. Here are some take away tips and tricks of the trade.

  • John Coveyou of Genius Games: John's most recent Kickstarter was for a board game called Ion, which raised over $89,000. He has successfully funded multiple Kickstarter campaigns, and has learned what efforts are worth the time.
    • Reach out to journalists for press coverage, but get to know them first. Researching who you are contacting and what is going to get their attention is key. Tailor each email to the individual who is going to read it.
    • Give people a feel or demo of your idea, in person. For Genius Games this meant going to gaming conventions, letting people play with an early prototype, and getting feedback from people in the boardgame community. Not only is the feedback helpful, but it's a great way to get an email list of early backers that you can reach out to when your campaign launches.
  • Zimin Hang of Ultradia (Chrona Kickstarter): The Chrona smartpillow was Ultradia's first Kickstarter campaign. Here are his tips for startups planning their first Kickstarter.
    • Use every resource you have. You never know if Facebook, Twitter, Thunderclap, or a news source is going to be what makes your campaign go viral. Use every network you have to spread the word about your campaign.
    • Look at the campaign as a way to test your product market. Whether your campaign gets funded or not, this is an opportunity to see what people think of your product. There were several aspects to Chrona that the team developed after the fact because of backer comments. This feedback is priceless.
  • Michael Werner of SYNEK: A countertop beer dispenser, SYNEK crowdfunded over $648,000 in their debut Kickstarter campaign last year. (Their product launch party is this Thursday in St. Louis).
    • Be flexible and be ready to pivot. SYNEK started their campaign focusing on home brewers. When that crowd wasn't bringing the funding needed, they pivoted their focus to craft brewers. This switch in the campaign strategy worked and brought them in at almost $400,000 over their goal.
    • Build your network and online presence. SYNEK was a brand new company, so they started participating in craft brew festivals, blogs, podcasts, etc. This helped them not only build their following but also gain a better understanding of what was needed in the industry.
  • Scott Steinberg: Author of The Crowdfunding Bible, Scott had a lot of advice about when Kickstarter can a helpful tool.
    • Kickstarter is best for those who already have a crowd. If you are a business that already has a following prior to your campaign, that's great. If you are a new business or product, one of the first things you should focus on is building a following online or through networking events, conferences, blogs, etc.
    • In your campaign, you are basically asking people to give you money for your idea. Therefore, you are more likely to meet your goal if you have a unique idea, or have a unique story to sell it.