Kickstarter and Indigogo Campaigns - How to/Do it your self guide on preparing to launch your own campaign
Posted on 02 April 2014
From an inventor's diary...
Inventing products and realising your ideas can be great fun, in the modern age of the technological revolution, there are numerous tools available at your finger tips to help you successfully create and fund your big idea thanks to the revolutionary Crowdfunding model of consumer commerce. Websites like Kickstarter.com and Indigogo.com provide some serious platforms for bringing products to life through an innovative approach of raising finances without going back to the old school days of saving up pots of cash or finding a wealthy angel or private equity investor who will no doubt make it a complicated procedure whilst taking a sizeable chunk of your businesses's shares for his/her money.
At Newtonstein, we are a family of inventors who came together and decided to make our dreams come true, to put our imagination and technical minds to good use, and create a company that made products which would make this world we live in a better place!
As part of our exciting journey, we had to conduct excessive research, planning and set up to be where we are today. Even though we have some serious knowledge on ecommerce, consumer retail, distribution, manufacturing and logistics, the world of crowd funding was a new frontier we had to bring ourselves up to speed with to enable our creativity to come to life and this time evolve into the creators of products that we distributed worldwide for others.
We wanted to share with you some of the things we had to do, set up, register and more. We hope that it would give you inventors and those looking to start their first crowdfunding campaigns a little helping hand on things to think about. This list is by no way comprehensive, but I have tried to outline some brief action points to inspire you when setting up your campaigns.
Social Networking & Advertising:
-Google Accounts - Webmaster, Analytics, Adwords, Plus and Merchants,
-Twitter profile and Advertising Setup,
-Facebook profile page and advertising set up.
These are the key ones you should consider, when your campaigns go live, you will need to reach out to the wider community who might be interested in your idea or product, targeted advertising is a great way to connect with them, do ensure you use the correct keywords to avoid wasted Cost per Clicks on the wrong visitors.
Social Networking is self explanatory, it is bread and butter stuff, engage with it daily 30 days before your campaign launch and start creating a buzz. Let the search engines and searches start finding you well in advance.
- Banking, Paypal verification
- Amazon Payments account
- Transferwise account for international supplier payments.
Kickstarter only allows campaign owners from specific countries, verification is either automated through ID, Passport records check through national archives or Amazon Payments in the USA.
You will also need paypal to receive money from Indigogo and a payment gateway like this will be very handy when taking pre-orders on your main website cart system, I recommend Shopify because as an ecommerce expert who has built his own platforms on PHP, I can assure you that Shopify is right up there with the best with dead easy to set up processes even for "dummies".
Do not forget your bank account, a business account or a separate personal account for sole traders to keep accounts, monitor your spending etc. It is important to manage your financial affairs well and have the ability to make international wire payments.
Transferwise.com provide a great platform for international payments to your marketers, suppliers, manufacturers, designers and any more... whilst maximizing exchange rates and making your money work harder.
- Amazon EU, Amazon US and Amazon CA,
- Shopify commerce store set up.
When your products are in stock (if you get funded and successfully manufacturer your products), you will need sales avenues to ensure all that hype is converted into sales and avail your products to the mass market on a regular basis. Who better than good old Amazon, Ebay and your own website to take orders.
Amazon requires registration in various countries depending on which region you want to sell in, Amazon Europe provide a unified account for France, UK, Germany, Spain and Italy however require Identity verification so get started early.
Prototyping & Designing
- CAD Designer
- Graphic Designer
Your first port of call for any invention will be sketches and 3D modelling using CAD or similar software like Solidworks, most people will require a freelancer or agency to help them design and 3D model their concept or invention.
Once you sort out your designs and obtain prototypes by using an inhouse printer, an agent in China, your designer's contacts or even websites like pokono.com, i.imaterialise.com and aterialise-onsite.com, you will need to start looking at creating videos of your entire process, keep a video diary to help, and get a semi professional to help you create a good video to market your product better to backers.
You will also need an expert in Photoshop to help you create good illustrations, creatives, info-graphics and other imagery to bring your creations to life on a campaign page.
Register and ensure you familiarise yourself with the requirements, registration and material or information to collect to complete your campaign. Look at successful campaigns, read blogs to learn more everyday and perfect your campaign to give your self the best chance.
Patent & Trademark:
- Patent applications
- Trademark filing
Not all ideas can be patented, but if it is novel and unique, then consider filing a patent pending application initially in case your idea becomes very successful to avoid copy cats jumping on the band wagon of your hard work.
If your product has a cool name or its own brand, then file for a trademark to protect it, its advisable to first check that you can trademark your brand name before you name your idea just in case it will be hard to due to existing names already registered that are similar to your brain stormed brand name.
- Mail chimp
- Marketing and PR manager
Marketing is key, it will determine your short and long term success if done correctly, start collecting newsletter subscribers early on to email when your campaigns go live by using websites like Mail chimp
A marketing manager would be ideal, some one with experience but if you can't afford this, find some one on a freelancer site like fiverr.com intialy to help.
Prepare press releases to be sent out, I suggest finding a good cost efficient agency that can connect to the CISION database.
More than 90 per cent of the world’s largest PR firms use Cision’s database for successful outreach. In a nutshell, it’s the world’s largest database of journalists, editors, bloggers and other media contacts, full of the information you need to succeed: names, numbers, profiles, pitching preferences, and pet hate - this tool means that you can fulfil your brief with aplomb by carefully targeting the websites and media professionals most likely to be interested in your PR.
Website, Warehousing and POS
- Cloud server setup,
- Backend POS of sale systems set up to handle worldwide order management,
- Partner warehouse ready to pick and pack goods per order,
- Front end site Design.
Cloud servers can easily be created with companies like Rackspace.com on demand at great pricing, this does require a lot of server and client side scripting knowledge, if you do not have it, you will probably have an "IT guy" to install open source shopping cart systems to front your main website and host it in on a cloud server. Shopify could help circumvent this requirement by making store fronts simple and easy.
A backend system to manage orders is a must, I recommend software like Centralslave.com or Linnworks to manage and synchronise your entire order handling process, whether it comes from Kickstarter, eBay, Amazon or your Shopify.com store.
This keeps things like stock and pricing updated whilst automatically managing order picking and packing with your partner warehouses.
You should think about where the stock is going to be held ready to be shipped to a paying customer or backer. There are many options available worldwide like Shipwire.com, Amazon's FBA which I highly recommend and many more.
You will have to consider local customs and taxes for importation and VAT/MWST on sales. Do your research.
Cost of shipping is key, through my networks, I can ship a 1 kilogram parcel worldwide for $4, that is a great price for non-tracked shipping. Find a service price acceptable for your product and an appropriate location to store the goods.
- Tooling and manufacturer sourced, actively quoting for all designs.
- Prototyping and testing
Before you start your campaign, understand the cost of realising your product, before you know the unit cost of each item, you will first have to buy a mould/tool to manufacturer your product. Contact at least 20 manufacturers in the USA, Europe and China to find the best pricing. Discuss at length, finishing, materials etc., then go to crowd-funding armed with your costs for creating your product.
Get the manufacturer you select to make you a prototype before placing an order so that you see what they imagine to make for you and help them perfect your product before tooling and manufacturing.
Never pay in full, pay 30-50% upfront and the rest on proof of completion before shipment. A lot of manufacturers will help you with packaging and shipping to your warehouse.
You will need to consider designing your packaging with your graphic designer, and buying a GS1 barcode for your packaging which is a must.
- Retail distribution
- Online Sales platforms
Make contact with global retail distributors to take your product to retail markets and shops around the world in appropriate sectors.
e.g. Electronic products could go through Farnell or Ingram Micro.
If you get your products taken up on a sale or return basis, you stand a good chance on having many of these marketed to retail outlets or accessible to online sellers who will already have contracts with many wholesalers and distributors.
A combination of these marketing techniques and tie ups with distribution channels will move your products from selling 10 a month to 10,000 a month. Of course the product has to be good enough but many amazing products fail because their inventors do not see through the entire journey of product inception to commercialisation.
The devil is in the detail, quite literally, be dedicated to your idea, push it to the limits, listen to critical opinions to improve your product or instinctively determine whether you are on to a winner, and even take it to a product marketing firm who might take it on board for a cut and pitch it to large retail giants that could help your product become a blockbuster.
There are hundreds of things to consider, I do not know everything, I am learning everyday and I hope that the little knowledge I share with you here helps you realise your own dreams...
This is a mentally trying and testing process, that will cost you time, money and a lot of faith, be dedicated and driven, keep learning everyday, ask for help and you may just create something to be proud of.