Lisa Fetterman started in the restaurant industry working for well-known chefs, including Mario Batali. Then she decided the world needed a better way to sous vide and launched Nomiku. The company raised $1.3M on Kickstarter and then joined both Y-Combinator and 500 Startups. Here’s what she learned from the crazy ride of crowdfunding her hobby into a business.
1. Launch on a Tuesday morning 9am EST
Yes, I’m serious – timing matters and this is when the news cycle begins. Monday is bad because no one responds to you on a Sunday. You’ll only have limited amount of time on Kickstarter and it’s good to make every week count. If you launch on a Thursday or Friday you go into the weekend too quickly and nobody will see your campaign. The best way to make sure your campaign is successful is to have it explode with backing as soon as it launches and that means getting as many eyeballs on the page as possible.
2. Give an exclusive to an influential media outlet
Who’s going to write about your project? Which widely distributed media outlet writes about a topic you’re in all the time? Get a reporter’s ear by tweeting at them and promise them the exclusive, which means you let nobody else know but them. This will guarantee that at least you will be written up. The next step is work with them to launch the article whenever your project goes live, obviously this is when it would be most effective for both the reporter and you. It makes the piece newsworthy and it gets you eyeballs on the page.
3. Find your true believers early and make them promise
Got an email list? Your first customers? Got some relatives? Well, if you know for sure they will give you money let them know about the project, take their feedback seriously and then make them promise they will contribute the moment you launch. Not 3 days later, but the day (if not the hour) you launch. Tell them a month out, two weeks out, one week out, and the day of. People want the thing you’re putting on Kickstarter right? Well, then you should have no problem cultivating this list. Again, this takes work and preparation. If you put together this list when you launch, you’re too late.
4. Take it offline
Something I don’t see people doing enough is timing their crowdfunding campaign with a conference where they are speaking or a fair where they’ve got a booth. Print out physical pieces of paper to give to people about your campaign.
For example, if you’ve got a restaurant include a nice postcard about your campaign in the check. Tell them if they contribute right now on their phones they can get 10% off the check right then and there. Whatever you’ve got to do to make sale, get creative. Give out free treats at the farmer’s market, talk to people in a long line for brunch at a restaurant. SKYWRITING. Just kidding, don’t do that, everyone’s looking down on at their phones.
5. A successful Kickstarter is a full-time job
Hard to make this a side thing after your 9-6. Someone needs to be on top of it every day when the campaign is active. The community pushes for you only if you have good communication. You can hire people to do parts of it, but honestly not all it and someone that’s uber involved needs to be around.
6. Beware of the vocal minority
While there is such as thing as constructive criticism, don’t lose sleep over every person who writes a negative comment. The only thing you can control is yourself and your emotions. Being an entrepreneur means taking feedback and knowing not everyone will like everything you do. Respond nicely but don’t lose sleep unless it’s the majority.
7. Second campaigns are not copy/paste
If you’ve had a successful crowdfunding campaign and you’re coming out with a major update or totally new generation (Read: pebble time) it’s becoming more and more popular to do a second campaign. It’s important not to make this copy/paste of your first. While reaching out to your initial backers is awesome, their expectations are even higher so you need to do more to get them excited about contributing and promoting. During round two we included more graphics and early bird levels. We also had limited stock at a special price. It was pivotal helpful in getting initial traction for campaign #2.