Launcing a Kickstarter Project - Don't kick yourself.
Last season we decided to utilize the immensely popular crowdfunding site, Kickstarter in order to launch our ski facemask product. We didn't know exactly what to expect on the backend on things as its not really explained fully but we just dove in head first and chose a catchy name: "Winter is DAMN Cold: The Beardo® Keep Warm Project " we thought it had a nice ring to it!
Before our launch though, we decided to back the 'Polar Pen Project', which was great to see as it grew very quickly but also had some huge issues surrounding Health Canada stepping in due to health risks and hazards with the material they used. It was all very exciting for us to watch as we were about to launch. Come to think of it we still haven't gotten our pen! … hmm. But they did manage to raise over $800k!
Most people do not speak frankly about Kickstarter, but it really is typically used for two main reasons:
1. Raising funds for creative projects
2. Acting as a pre-sale site so that companies can market test their products popularity before mass production begins.
The reasons for our project were actually threefold; Yes, we too really wanted to market-test our designs and fund-raise, but most importantly was the chance to expand our new designs creative input. We decided to incorporate a simultaneous design contest into our project and open up a world of possibilities for great new concept design ideas. We had a few good ones that we previously came up with, but we knew our fans and the 99designs creative site that we used would come through for us too! Not only were we able to receive creative submissions, but this allowed for us to explain our creative process to our fans and we really liked the back and forth and close discussions that we got into with interested people. Those really keen attitudes were something that was a unexpected but definitely a pleasant surprise.
We got a number of really excellent design ideas and ended up choosing a few of the top ones that we knew would do well, and which others voted on. Those artists that had their submissions chosen received $250 each in exchange for use of their designs. I am not sure if other kickstarters have had that level of outside creative input before, but we would highly recommend it! All in, we had 146 design submissions which can be seen on the 99designs design contest page. In the end we far exceeded our Kickstarter Goal and raised just over $15k which was 300% of our goal! We were stoked!
The fulfillment process was definitely much more complex than we had thought it would be. Actually, I am going to call it a nightmare. We used an outside fulfillment company specifically for this project, but the spreadsheets were the problem. They all had to be filled out one line at a time with all the relevant info (name, address, phone number, ordered unit barcode etc..). it wasn't as easy as simply downloading the spreadsheet from Kickstarter because the fulfillment company did not recognize their format. The other MAJOR issue was that not everyone actually sent us their details. Even after a number of requests for address info or product choice, and a few weeks after the event, we still had no info for 15% of our supporters. It got really messy when we realized that certain columns such as 'state/prov' had to be typed in all lower case, when the default for us was capitals. These little problems made for hours and hours of data entry and followups. We couldn't imagine the complexity of fulfilling some of those multi-million dollar funded projects .
We definitely learned a lot throughout the project though and we had a really good time with it. We are happy to say that since the Kickstarter project we have successfully released a whopping 26 ski facemask designs! We still have several totally unique concept ideas brewing and perhaps we will launch another kickstarter project again one day. Until then though, we will keep supporting our favourite projects and coming up with the next hottest product!
We hope you check out our finished skimasks, and give Kickstarter a shot yourself if the creative or entrepreneurial bug bites you just right!