Kickstarter campaigns are often employed by entrepreneurs to showcase their products online through videos, graphics, and text on one page. Founders can set funding goals and deadlines, obtaining backers (supporters) who donate money to help creators launch their product or creative project.
Some campaigns fail miserably using this tactic to raise funding, while others soar pass their goals. However, the Founder Institute has birthed a rare Founder who falls into the latter category, raising $200,000 within a month of launching a Kickstarter campaign, rocketing far beyond the $40,000 goal.
This founder, Dr. Junhao Hu, a Singapore Founder Institute Graduate, was incredibly successful in creating buzz during the first week of his Kickstarter campaign for his company Darma, the world’s first smart cushion that can monitor your sitting habits and improve your physical and mental health. He was able to get help from his friends and family, who broadcasted his video on multiple social media platforms on the day of his launch. As a result of this tactic, he raised $100,000 in the first day of launching his Kickstarter Campaign. Junhao exclaims,
“Many people backed us on the first week because of the strategic campaigns and actions we took before the Kickstarter campaign. We had success because of two things: 1. We prepared very well before the Kickstarter campaign, so many people knew who we were launching on that day. They helped us, trending us, increasing our backers. 2. We made sure we had a lot of media coverage, we engaged with the media very often before we launched the Kickstarter campaign.”
During our exclusive interview with Junhao, he explains step by step how he launched and sustained an extremely successful Kickstarter campaign.
Hear more from Dr. Junhao Hu on our upcoming free “How to Raise a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign” webinar.
Coming up with an Idea for the Kickstarter Video
Junhao began looking for a video company to help him produce his Kickstarter video last fall while enrolled in the Singapore Founder Institute. Luckily, Junhao got in contact with George Mikhail, a videographer he met through his advisors, who is experienced in producing promotional startup films. As soon as they met, Junhao expressed his idea of creating a fun and emotional story,
“Video companies do not know about your products, so you must tell them why you want certain features. I tried to give an in depth explanation regarding my product features, and what my ideas were in promoting the video.”
Junhao shares how he and George crafted the idea for his Kickstarter video, making data more visually appealing,
“One of Darma’s benefits is that we can monitor your vitals, heart rate and stress levels, but we didn’t think it would be interesting simply displaying data, so we turned our video into a love story. We can monitor the cushion, and the cushion can monitor the heartbeat…. So the girl is walking by in the video and you can see the guy’s heart beat jumping high. This makes the heart beat monitor more interesting. If you’re just showing the data, it’s not that interesting, and people won’t know the meaning about heart beat. This is a better way to present the vitals.”
Producing and Finalizing the Message and Video
Junhao admits that producing the Kickstarter video was a long and tedious process. He contacted George during May, and the finished product was released two and a half months later in August. Here he explains,
“We spent one month on scripts, another two weeks to finalize the scripts, and two weeks on watching the video to make sure that it was right…. It took one month to finally finalize the video.”
Junhao suggests treating your outsourcer as if they’re a customer, getting ready to use your product,
“Let them feel as if they will benefit. If our video producer knows how the cushion is going to feel, then he can visualize how he would use it, which will make it easier for him to understand how to tell your story in his mind. He must understand the benefits of the cushion.”
In total, Junhao spent $20,000 on the video.
Finalizing the Kickstarter Page
If producing the video wasn’t enough, finalizing the text on the Kickstarter page took two weeks to complete. Junhao stresses that it is very important to polish the flow of your text on the Kickstarter page so that you can tell a concise story,
“It’s almost like you’re pitching to an investor, the problem, solution, and everything else. You tell your story in the beginning, and you use a very short sentence to tell people what your product is.”
Here, he lays out the most important points you should feature:
- The unique point you are trying to convey to others.
- Scenario of how people use your product.
- Your team and advisors.
These things should be in order to help readers easily understand your product, and how your product will benefit them. Another important point that Junhao emphasises are the graphics used to guide backers through the Kickstarter page,
“The important thing is that you make sure that the graphics are right. People do not read the text in depth, people just scroll down and read all of the graphics. And when they want to read more about the graphic they will reference the text. So try to make sure that the graphic is right. Especially the problems, solutions, the scenario of how people use your product, a gif may be better, and also some demo videos, advisors pictures or videos, team member videos, and/or awards.”
Tactics Before Launch
Before Junhao launched his Kickstarter video, he launched a small campaign using ThunderClap, a “crowdspeaking” platform that helps people be heard through social media. By using this platform, he was granted the authorization to post one Facebook message on 300 of his friends’ and family members’ profiles. As a result, on the day he launched, he had 300 Facebook user profiles posting his Kickstarter video. Junhao shares his 3 points of attack:
1. Are you solving a problem? “You must make sure your product is attractive enough. You must make sure that the story is right, and that you are really solving a problem. We are trying to solve the sitting problem in the office. Right now there are no solutions in the market. Some people have tried to solve the problem, but their solutions weren’t that great. Is your product really solving a problem?”
2. Use your network: “We engaged our family and friends very well before starting the Kickstarter. Your backers don’t have a channel to know about you. Use your personal networks, friends and family to help you broadcast your product. On the day we launched we had about 300 people to post on Facebook and Twitter at the same time. So on the day of the launch we had all 300 people posting our Kickstarter video on their timelines, which can turn into 300,000 people. So on the first day many people knew that we were launching. We spent 3 months to obtain these many backers, so if you prepare early, you can get it.”
3. Media publications: “Your network coming from your family and friends is very limited, so we tried to push our presence in the media before the launch. You should also try to target the people you can not touch, so this comes from the media. We engaged big media channels before the launch, like the Washington Street Journal, The Next Web, Techcrunch, Venturebeat. Some of the contacts we obtained were from our friends, mentors, but many we just sent an email to, and kept sending emails until some people replied.”
The lesson? Engage all of your friends, family, and major media channels before you launch. You must plan and put everything into place to make sure that by launch day, you’ve already acquired a large following to backup your product. Junhao discloses,
“Some people contacted us before launch, because we already launched our website. Fast Company approached us and wanted to give us publicity. They gave us publicity on the day we launched.”
Tactics During Launch. Where was the traffic coming from?
During the launch, Junhao used certain tactics to engage his audience during the Kickstarter campaign, making sure people were continuously backing Darma. Although Kickstarter doesn’t tell you where your backers are coming from, Junhao was able to form rough ideas of certain websites and Kickstarters that were directing people to his page. He lists,
1. Kickstarter Tactics: “Make sure Kickstarter is featuring your products in staff pick, popular section, in your categories… We managed to get in touch with Kickstarter, we got featured on their tech page and staff pick. We can find out which people are coming from these popular sections. And in the tech trending section we found out that 45% of our backers are coming from Kickstarter, beyond that, another 55% came from the way we were engaged on facebook.”
2. Facebook Tactics: “We put our video on Facebook, so people can watch and engage with our videos on Facebook and Kickstarter, before and during the campaign.”
Junhao also contacted media channels and sent emails to all of his backers throughout the campaign.
What Comes Next for Darma?
Now that Junhao has raised a great sum of funding, totally surpassing his previous $40,000 goal, his next steps will be to head to Shenzhen, China for the manufacturing.
“I think the next step will be very tough, because many can fail to deliver their product after the Kickstarter campaign. Our goal is making sure that everyone sits smart in the office. We want to one day embed the cushions into the chairs. The average chair is going to be smart, no more dumb chairs.”
Advice to Entrepreneurs
If you’re thinking about launching a Kickstarter campaign, Junhao shares 3 pieces of advice to reference during your journey:
1. “Kickstarter has evolved, there are now so many projects on Kickstarter, so it will be hard to find your product. So if you are, or are not confident in your product, just make sure you have your families and friends really backing you up, helping you spread the word to many other backers in the beginning.”
2. “No matter how good your product is, try to make sure that many people know about your products. If no one knows about your product, no one will buy it.”
3. “Use your personal networks as much as you can. Your network is your strength. So if you use it well, you should be great. Those who’ve used their network very well, have gained many backers in the first few weeks of launch.”
How FI Helped
As a recent Singapore Founder Institute graduate, Junhao didn’t always know the ins and outs of crowdfunding. Below he shares how FI has helped him on his entrepreneurial journey.