Tag Archives: Indiegogo

CFN099 – ChairVisor: An Easy Way To Keep The Sun Off Your Face

ChairVisor

The crowdfunding space is full of success stories. Where else can someone come up with an idea, get it down on paper, build a prototype and open it up to public consumption on a large scale?

Today’s episode features David Acosta, a firefighter from Chula Vista, CA, who identified a solution to a very common issue in sunny climates – how do you protect your face from too much exposure to the sun? He saw people using towels, hats, and even bathing suit bottoms to cover their faces in an attempt to shield themselves from the sun while laying out by the pool.  He designed and patented a sun visor, called ChairVisor, that clips on to your lounge chair, and provides an excellent adjustable shade that is also more civilized than using parts of your swimsuit! Follow-on versions include a solar charger and tablet holder.

Listen in as he describes his sometimes difficult path, and the sacrifices he’s made to bring his invention to market, including a product test at the Hilton Palm Springs, utilizing marketing analytics from San Diego State students, and organizing a launch-day party to boost the Indiegogo launch on March 19, 2016.

**Note – The ChairVisor campaign goes live on Indiegogo on March 19, 2016, which is after this episode is posted.**

 

CFN009 – Funded Today: The Best Way To Jumpstart Your Campaign?

fundedtodayI had a chance to connect with a couple of the hottest marketers on Kickstarter (and now Indiegogo), and get behind the scenes to learn how they create killer campaigns!

I feature professional crowdfunding marketers Zach Smith and Thomas Alvord of Funded Today (http://Funded.Today/) on today’s show. Three of their latest clients have top 5 campaigns on Kickstarter right now, and they’re on track to pass $10M in funding over more than 30 clients so far.

They have a very distinct and well-thought out strategy, and seem to have been very successful in implementing it across both Kickstarter and Indiegogo, with projects as diverse as headphones, watches, bike locks and wallets. They’ve also been very successful in “rescuing” campaigns that have a limited timeframe left to meet their funding goals. And, they charge nothing upfront! Listen in for their expert advice on how to supercharge your campaign!

“Forever Funding” Indiegogo’s Secret Option?

I know, it sounds like a crowdfunded burial plot, or a product developer’s dream, right? You’re no longer limited to 30 – 60 days in which to focus your fund-raising – you can now “fund forever” and let your products live on Indiegogo!

Secret Program?

From the scant facts that seem to be available on the program,  it might be pretty close to the latter. I first saw this new feature on a campaign I was looking to back on Indiegogo. The campaign had been fully funded months ago, but was still open to receive new funds, with no closing date. There was some text under the funds raised area that indicated the fund raising type was “Forever Funding.” When I hovered over the blue information button, a text bubble popped up that read, “This campaign is participating in a pilot program that allows it to continue funding without a deadline.” As there is no way to select this funding option when creating a campaign, it appears to be invite-only at this point in time, with Indiegogo cherry-picking very successful campaigns by campaigners with a strong track record. It does seem a little mysterious at this point.

Indiegogo As An Ecommerce SIte

Wow. It looks like Indiegogo is setting themselves up to be an ecommerce play of sorts. And, maybe that’s really smart. If you’ve had success funding projects on the platform, why leave just because your campaign is over? Your customers are still there, and would probably be interested in your other projects (related or not), if they liked your first one. It makes logical sense, and it doesn’t hurt that this particular campaign raised more the 2,500% of its funding goal ($1M + on a $40K initial funding goal. It’s also not clear if that number is growing along with Forever Funding, or if that was the original total funds raised in the initial campaign).

Single Platform And Other Benefits

Either way, the idea of keeping your backers on a single platform (vs. migrating them to your own website or Facebook page, for example) during and after the campaign sounds like good business. Campaigners can easily track contributors and offer them upgrades and new perks along the way, and every time a new funding threshold is reached. This can keep backers engaged and informed from a single trusted location, instead of receiving information from a number of different platforms or email accounts. It’s possible that Indiegogo could become a YouTube-like repository of a vast diversity of products that backers can continually browse and access when they are seeking a certain type of product, and that those products can remain in “active” campaigns forever.

Other campaigner benefits include Indiegogo’s own analytics, and the ability to easily integrate with Google Analytics, so you can see where your backers are coming from and who the big referrers are. Indiegogo also does a great job of organizing orders and contact and shipping information, which can get a little fragmented when you’re using a number of ecommerce solutions, credit card payment gateways, etc. For those reasons alone, the costs associated with remaining on the Indiegogo platform may make sense.

Of course, Indiegogo profits from this as well, assuming they continue their 4% fee for platform services (this assumes that only fully funded campaigns would take part in Forever Funding). Having a 4% ongoing financial participation in a success product can mean substantial profits, as many of these successful campaigns have collected in excess of $1,000,000, and continue to sell products and packages that command near-retail pricing (especially after the product development and manufacturing has been funded by the initial campaign).

Win-Win-Win

The end game is a win for everyone. Campaigners win, because they can keep their products right where their buyers live and expect them to be, and see detailed information on their customers.  Indiegogo wins, because they command an on-going 4% piece of the sales of their most successful products, and consumers/backers win because they can continue to easily find and purchase successful products at below-retail prices, and feel secure that their transactions will be hosted and processed by a trusted online platform.

If you’re fortunate enough to be invited to participate in the Forever Funding program, it seems to be an easy decision to make, short of any onerous terms that Indiegogo may choose to include with the program.

If you’ve had any experience with Forever Funding, please leave a comment below, as any information you can provide would be helpful to other campaigners.

 

Prepping Your Crowdfunding Campaign

Jumping into the crowdfunding game may seem easy. You pick a platform, open an account and type in a few lines of information. Really easy, and you can be set up in a few minutes.

While that can be the case in setting up your account and platform page, there a number of other things you should have in place before you launch your campaign to insure its success.

Set Up Your Social Media

The most important thing you can do before implementing your crowdfunding campaign is to have all your social media platforms set up and connected. This means Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, etc. Each platform should have consistent information, pictures and videos, and should link to each other platform and to you crowd funding page. You never know where someone will engage, and you want to make sure that if they see you on Instagram, for instance, they are directed to your campaign page for a chance to learn more and contribute. This may sound very obvious, but I’ve seen many missed opportunities to drive traffic and funds, with products mentioned on various platforms that don’t have an easy way to connect to a purchase page. You also want to make sure that the links go both ways – allow someone who contributes to your campaign on a crowdfunding platform to share that page with their friends through their social media accounts. Before launching your campaign, pretend you’re a consumer and go through your links to make sure they work properly and lead to your campaign page. Few people will take the time to go around a bad link and search your product out on the open web. Make it as easy as possible for them to find you the first time.

Create A Compelling Video

Probably the second most important part of your campaign is the video. Yes, video! Mere still images will not suffice! People not only expect a video, and they expect that video to be well-executed, informative and even stylish. The most successful campaigns feature videos that look like Apple or Volkswagen commercials – very clever and crafted to deliver a message to viewers in the most professional and concise way possible. This doesn’t mean you need to spend thousands of dollars on it, but you should be conscious of what you’re competing with for contributors’ dollars. Many crowdfunders use professional production companies, as video may not be their forte (they’re inventors after all!). If you need it, don’t be shy about collaborating with a production company for your video – it’s the most important tool in your pitch, and can be used in many different formats (trade shows, investor meetings, etc.). It will (hopefully!) be played thousands of times, and it should really get viewers excited about your product. It’s also the chance to give potential contributors a feel for who you and your team are, and a little bit about your personalities. This cannot be conveyed with words, and can be a vital point of connection and trust. Put on a smile and let people know how great your product is! Be creative – this is the chance to show how your product works, why it’s better than others, and what makes it a must have. The video really sets the tone for your campaign and can convey a sense of culture and fun. You can get away with a very well-done iPhone video, but using an HD DSLR with a short depth of field lens and lav mics, will really look and sound pro, and have contributors believing that you’re putting forth a quality product.

Have A Launch Plan

The last major component in your preparation should be a launch plan. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but you should consider additional perks, as your campaign gets under way (sometimes called “stretch goals”), which allow for additional features or options if a certain funding level is met. Also, be sure to plan to update your contributors frequently, as they are probably your biggest fans, and may be likely to purchase additional items or options if they are made aware. Thank you’s also go a long way, and can build a sense of community, as well as serving as a way to remind contributors of other potential perks to check out.

Think about who you’ll be reaching out to and where your biggest response might come from. Utilize the platform analytics, that show you where traffic is coming from and which social media platforms are delivering contributors. Go back to those platforms and add additional content and engagement. Be flexible with your plan, but create options for yourself – if you see that Facebook is driving a large part of your traffic, perhaps consider using Facebook’s internal promotional tools to boost your reach. Promoting your campaign is a very dynamic experience. You may have a couple of days with heavy traffic, followed by days with no traffic. Your expectations will probably not follow reality, but that doesn’t mean you’re off track. A particular event, such as the release of an interview or a mention in the media, can spike your traffic immediately, and it can come at any time. Some campaigns tend to fund early (usually because you’re hitting up everyone you know first), and some will get real traction as they approach their closing dates (lurkers who want to make sure they can get a deal before it disappears) – either way, work every angle and stay flexible.

Be Flexible & Deliver Value

Cover your bases as much as possible. Lay out your web and be ready for anything when you open the doors. If your campaign engenders a friendly, community vibe, and provides a clear value proposition, most visitors will feel comfortable in contributing. Building community is your real goal here. Your success on your first product or project will only have you back, creating another one, as has been proven across crowdfunding platforms. And, the same community that supported your first product will be back to kick off your second one, if they feel they received something of value. Go forth and build!

 

 

Kickstarter Vs. Indiegogo – Which Platform Is Best For Your Project?

Kickstarter and Indiegogo might seem to be very similar on the surface, but there are distinct differences between the platforms you should be aware of before choosing which platform is best to launch your particular campaign. Both have launched projects that have exceeded $10M in funding. Both have inherent communities that can greatly amplify your funding quickly if your project becomes a “darling.” They are currently considered the top two crowdfunding platforms in the US, and they are both are known to be very reliable and easy to use.

Form Over Function

Probably the biggest difference is in the types of campaigns each will accept. Kickstarter fancies itself as a platform for the design and tech-oriented, and you’ll find many of their most successful campaigns involve gadgets or products that often focus on design elements over raw practicality. You won’t find any “As Seen On TV” type products on Kickstarter. Indiegogo, however, allows pretty much anything and seems to be the preferred platform for musicians and film makers, as there are no approval issues.

Approvals on Kickstarter

In fact, Kickstarter has an approval process, where your project must be approved by Kickstarter’s staff before it can go public. Your project must fall under one of their categories, which include: art, comics, dance, design, fashion, film, food, games, music, photography, technology and theater. This is no place for a new garden tool – unless it looks cool, of course. This really limits what gets seen on Kickstarter, and keeps Kickstarter a highly curated site. It may also keep campaigns within parameters that have proven successful – which means Kickstarter backers may feel a bit more secure in funding your campaign, as they know it has been vetted to a certain extent by Kickstarter.

Indiegogo, on the other hand, has no approval process. While I’m sure they’ll shut you down if you violate their Terms Of Service, there is no approval committee prior to you going live with your campaign. They are also very open to any kind of product or service – bring on the garden tools! They are also very supportive of the arts and have become a favorite of those making entertainment programs in particular, as well as non-profits, for their funding rules – which is the next major difference between the platforms.

Flexible Funding on Indiegogo

I think the biggest benefit to Indiegogo is its Flexible Funding option. With Kickstarter, each campaign is “all or nothing” – in other words, you set a funding goal, and if you don’t meet it, you get nothing. With Indiegogo’s Flexible Funding option, you set a goal, but if you don’t meet it, you keep all the funds you have raised. This is a BIG deal! Setting funding goals is not an exact science. Will production and raw material costs exceed quotes? I would say that happens more times than not. Do contingencies come up that were not foreseen? All the time. So, to account for some of those unknowns, crowdfunders have to guess at the actual numbers. If they guess too high, they may not meet their goals and (on Kickstarter, at least) may not get their funding. For example, if you project production costs for your product at $8,500,  you might add in a 15% contingency, to accommodate any changes or unforeseen circumstances. This would put your total funding need at $9,775. If you asked for $10,000, but your campaign only raised $9,500, you would get $0 at Kickstarter. Note, that your product most likely could be produced for the $9,500, as only a small portion of that is a contingency amount. If you placed your campaign, with the same numbers , under Indiegogo’s Flexible Funding option, you’d receive the $9,500, even if you asked for $10,000. This would most likely allow you to go into production with your product – which makes for a huge difference.

International Reach

One of the other differences is in global reach. Kickstarter campaigns must be US, Canadian or UK based (Kickstarter just hinted that they will be allowing campaings from Scandinavia starting in October), while Indiegogo allows campaigns from almost anywhere in the world. This severely limits Kickstarter’s reach, and doesn’t help anyone in Europe trying to launch a campaign. If your project has potential backers in Europe or in another overseas market, Indiegogo is the place to go.

Platform Fees

The last major difference has to do with platform fees and how you receive your funds. With Kickstarter, you’ll only receive your funds if you have met your goal, in a lump sum after your campaign has closed. They take a 5% fee, and you get the rest. With Indiegogo, it’s possible to receive some funds as they come in – specifically those coming in through PayPal. Under it’s Flexible Funding option, Indiegogo withholds 9% of these funds, and then refunds an additional 5% to you after your campaign concludes, for a total fee of 4%. The big difference here is that you can start receiving funds immediately, without having to wait 30, 45, or 60 days for your campaign to end, as you would have to do with Kickstarter. This can make a difference in the time it takes to ramp up your manufacturing, and if you have a long campaign that funds early, you can begin the first steps of production with the funds that have already been received, instead of waiting the full 30, 45 or 60 days you would have to with Kickstarter.

Your Decision

With these factors in mind, you should have an idea of which platform makes the most sense for you and your campaign. Certain factors – international backers, and campaign type (will it get approved?) can make the decision for you. After that, it may become a matter of personal preference. Nothing says you can’t run campaigns on both platforms – it just doesn’t make sense to do it simultaneously, as you’d fragment your focus and marketing efforts. It would be interesting to see stats on campaigns that didn’t fund on Kickstarter, and then moved over to Indiegogo and got funding at a later date.

If you have particular preference experiences on either platform, please leave a comment below!

 

 

What Is Crowdfunding & Why Is Everyone Talking About It?

While “crowdfunding” might be a popular recent catch-phrase, the concept itself has been around as long as money has changed hands. When farmers in agrarian cultures needed funds greater than they each individually possessed to construct grain storage buildings, for instance, they pooled their money to finance the necessary projects to protect their goods, and insure their livelihood.

When the America went through its Industrial Revolution in the mid-1800s, business tycoons realized that to scale industrial verticals quickly required massive capital that could only be raised through the issuing of stocks and bonds, which allowed the financial needs to be spread among many investors. While these examples may have been a little out of reach for the general public, today’s technology has drastically lowered the barriers to entry.

The advent of ubiquitous and high-speed internet platforms and far-reaching social networks, makes for the perfect crowdfunding storm, and democratizes the process to the point where anyone with internet service and a credit card can participate from anywhere in the world. Inventors, artists and entrepreneurs can get instant traction for their products and ideas without having to navigate complex traditional investment waters, and without having to spend exorbitant amounts on corporate structures, attorneys and financial advisors.

In short, crowdfunding makes available the best new products and ideas to the masses and allows for them to “prepurchase” or “invest” in the creators easily and at a very small scale and risk. Many crowdfunding opportunities (especially for products) allow “backers” to buy an item before it is produced, at a price substantially below the final retail price. This results in great benefits for both the buyer (backer) and the seller (crowdfunder), and allows for products and ideas to be quickly developed without the need for third party investment (and the controls and restraints that come along with it), such as from large consumer goods companies, record labels and film studios, etc.

The recent popularity of crowdfunding stems from two sides – one is the opportunity it offers those with amazing ideas – the entrepreneurs, inventors and artists, and the other is from the availability of those ideas and products to a populace increasingly hungry for the newest innovations in products and art. We’re seeing many projects that greatly exceed their funding goals (sometimes by as much as 1000+%), when an idea is in high demand. Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo trumpet growing numbers of multi-million dollar projects that have been backed by hundreds of thousands of backers. A recent estimate of the crowd funding market puts it at over $5B USD for 2014.

So, we have an extremely accessible method for the common person to obtain cutting-edge products and art for a fraction of the final retail price, and be the first to sport that technology or artistic piece, and share it with their communities. It sounds like a good spot to be in  – the intersection of new tech and art and the savvy consumer. That’s what we call CrowdFund Nation!