Editor’s Note: Zeppelin Zeerip is an alum of our Utah Entrepreneur Challenge competition. Since then he has managed several successful Kickstarter campaigns. He’s currently working on a video project call “Far From Home.” It features Brolin Mawejje, a Uganda native, and his road to America, the Olympics and medical school. Watch a trailer and get it on Vimeo on Demand here. We invited Zeerip to share some of his secrets to success.
The same way that a good angel investor should bring more to the table than financial aid, a Kickstarter campaign has the power to do far more for a startup than just raise funding. Today, we’re seeing companies such as Peak Designs debut every new product on Kickstarter before opening online sales. Why? For a number of reasons actually.
Kickstarter creates a very effective platform for concept testing before committing to a large purchase order or signing contracts with retailers. Kickstarter also gives a brand a very broad avenue for marketing. Sites and industry related blogs typically recognize you’re a startup with little to zero funding and need free publicity or are fans of your new product and want to support it for those reasons.
I’ve been on two different teams that have successful completed Kickstarter campaigns, one for the documentary movie Far From Home and the other for a action sports product created by DMOS Collective, and these are my five tips for launching a successful Kickstarter campaign:
1. Build an Audience Before Launching
This is crucial. You need a network and community that is familiar with your idea or product to reach out to when your campaign goes live. These are the first people that will buy your product and support your campaign. Friends, family, past teachers, employers. Anyone and everyone you know is a potential supporter. For both of my Kickstarter campaigns, social media and personalized email blasts were a huge priority during launch.
2. Invest in Video Production
Have a few hundred bucks to put into your Kickstarter? Put it into your video. You’ve got a friend who offers to do if for free? That’s great, but pay him/her a little something to hold them accountable. The video HAS to clearly demonstrate the products functionality and WHY the consumer needs the product. A campaign is dependent on it’s video. If you’re reaching out to sites to ask for press, the first thing they are going to look towards is your video.
3. Start Strong
Statistics vary, but all agree that the faster you begin showing signs of success, the faster you will reach your goal. Looking at your funding amount after three days as a percentage of your goal is a good indicator of success. Personally, seeing at least 50 percent of the goal within three days would give me confidence in the campaign. This means pushing your hardest before and during your initial launch, not in a last minute panic during the last two days.
4. Boosted/Promoted Social Media Posts
Boosting a post or running an ad on social media is one of the cheapest and most effective forms of marketing. In six weeks of running social media posts, DMOS Collective saw it’s reach increase to over 350,000 people. That’s pretty good for a page that started with only 1,000 “likes.”
5. Set a Realistic Goal
Want to raise $500,000 for your startup? So do I, but I think setting a more obtainable goal and overachieving is a better route than falling short on an unrealistic objective. Both of the campaigns I have worked on have set $20,000 goals. Some would say go higher, but I like to play it conservative. You don’t get second chances at crowdfunding, so doing everything you can to ensure success on your first round is crucial.
These are just a few of the things I’ve learned while being involved with two different Kickstarter campaigns. I’m not an expert and of course there is plenty more information available online, but I do believe in the power of a strong network and video production and can’t recommend them enough. No matter what, be committed to your campaign, it’s going to take work.