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Kickstarter Tips and Advice

Pre-Launch with small budget, no background or contacts!

Tips to help you plan and run a successful campaign.

by anthokoka » Tue Mar 21, 2017 7:47 pm

So far, I’ve raised $18,000 on Kickstarter in 15 days with a hardware product made in my garage. This is tough to do on Kickstarter these days, with larger companies having the final, aesthetically pleasing products. I'd like to share how I got to this point and some things I've learned along the way. Maybe this will help someone out in a similar situation. I had an idea for a fitness product after my wife didn’t have the time or energy for the gym after having our child. I looked at her home training accessories and wanted to combine them to make it more efficient and portable. In short, that’s how it all started. I’m someone with no background in marketing, business, logistics, web design or engineering. I have an associates degree in mowing grass, basically. I’ve always had ideas but didn’t do anything with them because I didn’t have the money or wasn’t “smart” enough. Simply put, anyone can do it if you are willing to put tons of unpaid hours in and research for hours each night. I’m going to cover some costs, manufacturing, some marketing and strategies that I’ve used to get to where I’m at. So far my wife and I have spent under $3,000 in just over 6 months. Which is really cheap in the grand scheme of things. I think anyone can find out a way to come up with that over 6 months if you are really dedicated.

Homemade Prototype: - First, I was told to make my product look as nice as possible by doing it myself. Didn’t have the money for prototypes or engineers. Every night for a minimum of 2 hours for the next 5 weeks, I was inside Home Depot or Menards looking for parts and testing them (This is not a joke). My wife wanted to kill me, especially with us having a little one at home. It got to the point where I was actually building my prototypes inside of the stores. I was sick of going back and forth because a measurement was wrong or something didn’t fit/look right. I made a lot of appearances at Dick’s (insert joke here) as well. I ended up making 5 prototypes in total before being satisfied. Here’s a look at my second prototype. The one in my campaign is much improved. http://imgur.com/a/gypTq

Total Prototype Costs: - $600 (A lot of errors and wasted money)

Other costs without much detail: - Provisional patent $80 - You can submit forms based on what you make to lower the cost. Believe it was the “Small Entity” form. I will hire a lawyer for the full patent within the year. That will roughly cost between $5,000 to $10,000. Depending on lawyer's hourly rate. LLC - $60 - since I filed it myself to my state. Rocket Lawyer will run you about $250.

Finding a manufacturer: - I was really stuck on getting my product made in the USA. That’s what most Americans want when they are starting a company. I was told that it just wasn’t going to work that way in my situation. Too expensive and almost all small fitness products are outsourced anyway. Sure enough, everyone was right. I reached out to Makers Row to help hook me up with a US manufacturer and they told me they don’t have any contacts in the fitness industry. I was being stubborn.

Next, I headed over to Alibaba, this was suggested in my original thread. I’m so glad that I did. I was able to find 15 different manufacturers that could potentially make my product. I wanted most of the components to be made in house, it would keep the costs down. I basically interviewed all of them and did extensive research on their company. I finally came up with a perfect fit. This company helped me make my final designs and specs for free, because they believe in my product that much (so they say). They have helped with logistics as well. Yes, people are going to say I’ll be copied if successful. I’ve learned that you can’t worry about that and focus on being better than them.

Paid Manufactured Prototype + Rush Shipping: - $800 (I talked them down on the original offer of $1,200 + $200 Shipping)

Everyone I talked to seemed to agree on Kickstarter being the best route for me and after a lot of research, they were right. I started everything 7 months ago and began creating my campaign about 3 months ago. I went with the prototype in my garage, like mentioned before. It’s really difficult competing with established companies and especially these fitness products that are already the finished product. Most of them have already done multiple campaigns. I think I made it look decent enough to prove my concept. Still waiting on my prototype from the manufacture. I know it will be so much better than what was made in my garage. Since I couldn’t afford a professional video making services or have photography done, I purchased the camera below to do it on my own- Camera Bundle for my Kickstarter video.

DSLR Camera Bundle Amazon bundle: - $600 (Kickstarter videos by a professional will be more than 3K easily)

Facebook Ads Pre-Launch - Everyone will tell you that your best results for marketing is reaching out to PR and Facebook ads for Kickstarter. I have had a couple small websites (Failed so badly, right away) in the past and messed around with Facebook ads but I wanted to do it right so I took this Udemy Course - https://www.udemy.com/facebook-ads-facebook-marketing-mastery-guide/ . (Some days this course is under $20 and others it's over $100. Keep checking in.)

It turns out, I was throwing money out the window previously for ads. If you don’t have experience with Facebook ads, don’t waste your money without guidance. Youtube and articles can be very vague on this subject. Learning about some things like A/B split testing and lookalike audiences can make all of the difference. I’d suggest taking a course. You can burn through money so fast if you are reckless and try to learn on-the-go.

Online Course: - $19
Pre-launch Ads Budget: - $500 (Brand awareness and email signups)
Fiverr for a couple designs, including a GIF - $50 total

I tried to follow Hacking Kickstarter as much as possible and I know a lot of people have. Some very interesting strategies, some of them unrealistic for my situation. http://tim.blog/2012/12/18/hacking-kickstarter-how-to-raise-100000-in-10-days-includes-successful-templates-e-mails-etc/

Friends and Family on Facebook: - 190 Shares and 20K video views when I first announced my project - $0
Local PR: - I wasn’t having luck with PR for pre-launch so I focused locally. I got published in 2 local magazines.

Some notes for people that want to run a Kickstarter campaign: - Research and learn for several hours each night if possible. Read r/shittykickstarters on Reddit to learn what not to do. Find other products in your niche and copy their page. Do Google Image search with their photos and see what websites covered their products. Hasn’t worked for me but seems to work for people that make electronics. Listen to podcasts and watch a lot of youtube videos.

Using tools like Reddit can give you pure feedback that will help you out the most. I’m sure most of you know this but don’t be scared to share your project with others outside of friends and family. No one will hold back on their comments here. Some user made a comment about my product that actually made me chuckle - “Who in the world is going to do squats with a yoga mat?” I had to explain that there is a built in weighted fitness bar. It’s meant for high repetition training that promotes toning. He never replied but I didn’t take it to heart. I honestly hope this will help someone in my situation. Would love to answer any questions. Feel free to add to what I’ve missed. Thanks for reading if you made it this far!

If anyone is interested in my campaign, you can check out "Yoga Flexer" here:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/kokaco/yoga-flexer-the-only-yoga-mat-turned-into-a-portab/description
anthokoka
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by therriaultk » Fri Mar 24, 2017 3:57 pm

Hi,

I just want to say thanks for sharing your experience and all of this super helpful advice!

The Yoga Flexer looks pretty amazing. I like how the way that the mat detaches, the foam roller, and the weighted bar make it so versatile! :D I also love how you included your wife and son in your videos, very cute and nice to see you guys working together to get this product out to other people who need the same solution your wife did!

I have a couple of questions:

1. What made you choose Kickstarter over other crowdfunding platforms like Indiegogo?

2. What's the main thing you would change if you could go back and start your campaign over again?
Community Manager - CrowdCrux.com
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by anthokoka » Fri Mar 24, 2017 4:51 pm

therriaultk wrote:Hi,

I just want to say thanks for sharing your experience and all of this super helpful advice!

The Yoga Flexer looks pretty amazing. I like how the way that the mat detaches, the foam roller, and the weighted bar make it so versatile! :D I also love how you included your wife and son in your videos, very cute and nice to see you guys working together to get this product out to other people who need the same solution your wife did!

I have a couple of questions:

1. What made you choose Kickstarter over other crowdfunding platforms like Indiegogo?

2. What's the main thing you would change if you could go back and start your campaign over again?


Hey! Thanks for the kind words. Glad my wife actually believes in the product. That's why she was so happy to help me out and kind of become the face of Yoga Flexer. We didn't have money for professionals to do the video so she's done a great job for us.

1. Kickstarter is the most respected crowdfunding site right now. I wanted my campaign to be all or nothing. If I didn't get enough to put it into production, I refuse to take peoples money. Since I'm funded, I will be going over to Indiegogo next to take pre-orders for a couple months while I work on getting the Yoga Flexer into the hands of Kickstarter backers.

2. I don't want to seem cocky, but i'm pretty happy with how I've prepared. I put 7 months into studying and learning about crowdfunding. The middle of the campaign has kind of slowed down but that's to be expected.

I'll say the biggest waste of money was BackerClub. Absolute waste of $450. Through all of my researched, seemed like a lot of people like going on that site but it's done nothing for my campaign.

I should have put more focus on getting prototypes quicker from the manufacturer. It was hard to do so with my limited funds. I'll probably find out that I should have put more work into logistics and manufacturing before and during my campaign. It's just so hard to do that when you are doing everything yourself.

Hope this helps :) Thanks
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by Wekom » Fri Mar 24, 2017 8:48 pm

Dear Anthokoka,

Wow! That's amazing! And thanks so much for sharing your successful story. I'm doing something very similar, re no money or background, and found your words very helpful and inspiring. I'm about 2 months behind you, so all of your links and advice are like gold dust to someone with no budget. I'm going to sign up for Facebook Ads School now as I'm such a novice about this.

So really HUGE THANKS once again. Much appreciated.

Best of luck on Indiegogo.
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by anthokoka » Fri Mar 24, 2017 11:07 pm

Wekom wrote:Dear Anthokoka,

Wow! That's amazing! And thanks so much for sharing your successful story. I'm doing something very similar, re no money or background, and found your words very helpful and inspiring. I'm about 2 months behind you, so all of your links and advice are like gold dust to someone with no budget. I'm going to sign up for Facebook Ads School now as I'm such a novice about this.

So really HUGE THANKS once again. Much appreciated.

Best of luck on Indiegogo.

Wekom,

I was hoping someone in my situation would find this useful. Thanks for reading and good luck with your launch! It's smart of you to put in the work early and research. It's the greatest tool. Going into your campaign, you should have total confidence that you will get funded. That's from all of your prep before launch.

Yes, take the course. It's long but so worth it. If you dont have much money like me, you cant waste it, so do it right. Once you figure out Facebook, here's an Instagram tip. Videos get the most engagement for me. So I'll run video ads. I get a bunch of likes and followers. I'll personally reach out to them within a day through their inbox. Each message has to be personal. For every 25 inbox messages, I've gotten 2 backers each time. That's not so bad. That's on top of people pledging from my ad without me DMing them. The longer you run your targeted ads, the better your CPC becomes. Be patient. Most people say dont use instagram ads but I found the trick. It's all about not being afraid to reach out and just ask them! Most times they will just ignore you, oh well.

Hope this helps! Thanks again,
Anthony
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by Wekom » Sat Mar 25, 2017 12:12 am

Thanks Anthony,

You're advice had been invaluable. So generous of you to share it with everyone. The Facebook course is currently running for $120 so I'll keep checking until the drop the price line you suggested.

I like the idea of instagram ads too, because you can't pay links on there like the other social media sites.

My product would be very useful for your young child, so if I get successfully funded I'll have to send you one as a thank you!!

Thanks again, Amy.
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by anthokoka » Sat Mar 25, 2017 3:27 am

Wekom wrote:Thanks Anthony,

You're advice had been invaluable. So generous of you to share it with everyone. The Facebook course is currently running for $120 so I'll keep checking until the drop the price line you suggested.

I like the idea of instagram ads too, because you can't pay links on there like the other social media sites.

My product would be very useful for your young child, so if I get successfully funded I'll have to send you one as a thank you!!

Thanks again, Amy.


Wekom,

You can click the links on Instagram ads. They have a "Learn More" or "Buy Now" option on their Instagram ads where the person can click that and go to your site. Since you have a product for children, Instagram might be nice for you.

Yeah, His price on that course is always going up and down. I'd check in every couple days, you will notice a change. Good luck on your campaign! Wish you the best.

Anthony
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by SandMBooks » Wed Apr 19, 2017 1:50 am

therriaultk wrote:I'll say the biggest waste of money was BackerClub. Absolute waste of $450. Through all of my researched, seemed like a lot of people like going on that site but it's done nothing for my campaign.

That's good to hear — thanks for sharing! They sell their service really well! We've just launched and we're trying to figure out additional ways to keep the ball rolling...
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by SandMBooks » Wed Apr 19, 2017 1:51 am

Wekom wrote:Thanks Anthony,

You're advice had been invaluable. So generous of you to share it with everyone. The Facebook course is currently running for $120 so I'll keep checking until the drop the price line you suggested.

I like the idea of instagram ads too, because you can't pay links on there like the other social media sites.

My product would be very useful for your young child, so if I get successfully funded I'll have to send you one as a thank you!!

Thanks again, Amy.


Super helpful advice in this thread, thank you everyone for sharing!
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by jmlee111 » Sun Apr 23, 2017 3:42 pm

Anthony,
This is so helpful for a newbie like myself. Although I have experience running my own e-commerce shop, this is my first venture into a Kickstarter campaign. Your advice(s) are all very very helpful indeed!

Thank You!

-Jerry
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