By Lisa Curtis
A few months ago, the idea of running a crowdfunding campaign to raise $50,000 terrified me. I had a full-time job and hadn’t told many people about my startup, Kuli Kuli. My own father still couldn’t pronounce the name of the plant that we were trying to make the next big superfood (for reference it’smoringa — MO-ring-GA).
Making me even more nervous was the fact that every high-volume crowdfunding campaign I read about seemed to have a full-time staff and a couple of celebrities behind them. Which sort of made me wonder, if they had all that, did they really need the crowdfunded capital?
So this is the article I wished I’d read six months ago. It is entirely possible to run a very successful crowdfunding campaign without being absurdly well-connected or quitting your day job. It just requires a little more planning. Here’s how we did it:
Figuring Out Your How & Why – 2 months out
About two months before you release your campaign, you need to figure out your how and why. As my good friend and crowdfunding consultant Sydney Malawer put it, “do you have a legitimate ask besides ‘we want money’?” People want to feel as though they are a part of something bigger than themselves and they want to know that their money is instrumental in accomplishing that goal.
For us, this meant that we needed to do a lot of research. The goal of Kuli Kuli’s Indiegogo campaign was to raise enough money to do our first major manufacturing run and launch our first moringa product in U.S. grocery stores. And we wanted to do all of this in a way that significantly improved the lives of the women farmers in West Africa where we source our moringa.
We depicted these goals in the graph above and wrote out an estimated budget in our campaign based on the quotes we’d received from manufacturers, insurers, lawyers, suppliers and distributors. Sound like a lot of work? That’s why you have to start early.
You should also do some research on crowdfunding. Both Kickstarter and Indiegogo have a lot of helpful tips of their website. Mike del Ponte wrote a great post on “Hacking Kickstarter”, Marked Point compiled a list of factors to consider that contribute to campaign success, and the Unreasonable Institute put together some good learnings from their failed campaign.
As a final but important part of the preparatory phase, you need to find a videographer. Your video will make or break you. We were able to find a professional videographer who was willing to work pro-bono but you can make a compelling video yourself so long as you focus on telling a compelling story and keep it under three minutes. There are lots of good resources online to help you edit your video. A new startup called Ignite Video even has an app to help you edit videos from your phone.
Designing Your Campaign – 1 month out
Now that you have an idea of how much money you need to raise, you need to decide which platform to use. There are literally hundreds out there just waiting for the JOBS Act to pass but Kickstarter and Indiegogo are the two best options in my mind.
Kickstarter is the more trafficked of the two, but is a lot pickier about the types of projects they’ll allow (strictly creative) and its harder to make it onto their homepage since they do have more high-volume projects. In all honesty, Kickstarter rejected our campaign and I am so happy they did. We were featured on Indiegogo’s homepage for multiple days, went out in their newsletter and posted in their social media.
Once you’ve chosen your platform, you need to design the layout of your campaign. At this point, you should have storyboarded out your video and crystallized your pitch. Try explaining your value proposition to a five year old. If they get it, you’re golden. If they love it, put them in your video.
Your campaign should be image-rich, with just enough content to answer the predominate questions of “why should I care” and “what are you going to do with my money?” Most people don’t read so make sure all of this is in your video too. In general, it’s a good rule to not overestimate people’s attention spans so you’ll also want to keep your campaign short, around 30 days.
The final question you need to answer is “what are you going to give me?” Yes, technically people are donating to your campaign but it isn’t necessarily out of the goodness of their hearts. It’s a little bit of that plus a lot of “that looks awesome, I want that.” This is where your rewards come in.
You’ve got to have an appealing reward at the $25 level — this is by far the most popular pledge amount. But you should also dream big and have a multi-thousand dollar reward that offers some sort of incredible experience related to your product. We did a “weekend of health and wellness at a Napa winery” for $5,000. Full disclosure: the person who claimed it is related to me and would have donated anyway but said that she “got excited” by the winery reward and so donated more than she might have planned on.
Source: Lisa Curtis – Forbes