The idea for Chivaz came all the way back in 2007, but our true public unveiling came on Kickstarter in the summer of 2012. We thought it would be worth it to take you through our Kickstarter history because we are so often asked questions about it. You can read the below information as one of caution and advice.
Chivaz is one of the many Kickstarter success stories out there. For those of you who don’t know what Kickstarter is, it is a crowd sourced fundraising platform for people with idea, but not necessarily the money to turn their ideas into real products.
Chivaz had been conceived in 2007 and talked about in a small network of friends and family for a long time before we finally decided to take things public with Kickstarter. We are a bit risk-averse (poor) and we needed about $20,000 for our initial order of product.
WHY KICKSTARTER IS A GOOD IDEA:
We planned on offering our product as a reward (it is more difficult to raise money for a work of art or a film because people like to buy something that they will get in the mail, rather than just contribute to someone’s ideas and passions)
We had a prototype that looked good and we thought we could convince people to buy it
We knew that Kickstarter would be a great place to centralize all of the friends and family we had talked to over the past few years
We figured our product was unique enough on the Kickstarter platform that we would surely get featured. (We were wrong about this one.)
We thought that the Kickstarter traffic would really help boost our fundraising effort. (This also turned out to be a bit of stretch.)
OK, IT'S A GOOD IDEA, WHAT'S NEXT?
MAKE A VIDEO:
So with such a foolproof plan we set out to make a video. The video was finished about 3 months after it was started. WAY longer than we hoped. The first couple of cuts of the video made our product look sub-premium, which was not in-line with the super-premium identity that our product should have. So we kept shooting and editing until we had something good. Here is a basic guideline for making a good video:
- Get a good camera with a nice lens - Shooting something through a nice lens makes everything look professional. Lenses and cameras are available to rent at photography stores everywhere. We used a Canon 7D and 5D Mark II with a couple of different lenses (50mm, 15mm, 70 - 200mm) [Cost = $0, borrowed from a friend]
- Get a good microphone for a voice-over - poor sound quality is probably the worst thing you can have. If people notice the quality of the voice-over, there is something wrong. Your best hope is that they don’t notice at all. If you have that humming noise in the background, you should find a better microphone and a quiet place to record in. We recorded our voice-over with a Blue Yeti microphone right onto Garage Band. [Cost = $0 - borrowed from a friend]
- Choose some music - without music in the background it is hard to build a mood or look professional. There is a ton of royalty free music available for a very small price. We used the site Audio Jungle for ours. We chose two different songs from this site. One of the cool things about this is that you can try out the songs for free to see how they work in your video. They are just “watermarked,” so it is smart to buy the real thing before putting your video out there. [Cost = $25]
- Write and edit your script - We wrote the script and after reading through it many times, we cut more than half of it out. I highly advise getting rid of at least ⅓ to ½ of what you think you need.
- Edit your video in less than a month - Adobe Premiere has a one month free trial. If you can get get everything together that you need, editing within 30 days shouldn’t be a problem. It takes a little getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, it is pretty easy. [Cost= $0]
CHOOSE GOOD REWARDS:
In our case, we had a product that will retail for about $25, so we figured that our rewards would be self explanatory. For every $25 we would give people a pair of Chivaz. In addition, backers would start to get bonuses at each additional level of funding. Similar to how popcorn is upsold at the movie theater, we made each level significantly better than one before it. For just a little bit more money backers would get additional pairs, stickers, stickers, t-shirts and hats.
UPLOAD AND FILL IN THE BLANKS
After your video is made you are ready to put it into Kickstarter. Uploading everything and entering in your rewards is pretty simple. You should also have a story that people can read, but honestly, we just paraphrased our voiceover from the video in our story section. It is important to have good pictures here for people, but we are not convinced that people are interested in reading this too much. We had a lot of people come up to us and say “That video was really professional,” but no one said “That story you wrote really moved me!”
TIME TO PROMOTE
Once everything is uploaded and your page is ready to go the real work begins. Now you are working against a deadline and you have a public goal that you have set out there. It is difficult to stay full steam ahead on something like this, so if you have a day job, I would suggest you choose 30 days, which is what we did. Here is how we tackled our Kickstarter promotion:
FIRST 20 DAYS
- Emailed personally everyone we could think of, not a mass email, an actual personal email.
- Tried to communicate through Facebook and Twitter every day (we spent a year ahead of Kickstarter gathering and paying for ads to get fans). Consistently asking people to "like" and "share."
- Found and friended a few cool projects on Kickstarter and did some co-marketing with them.
- Made a second video about our product (Chivaccessory parody) and then tweeted that out - directly at some places (Pebble watch re-tweeted and pinned - got us 1500 views).
- Promoted the 2nd video to our friends and family. These people need reminders, so having another video was a way to ping them again with something new, rather than the same message
- Emailed back all our big donors and asked them to share the links to our site.
- Tried to thank as many people personally as possible for backing the project - this is time consuming if thing are going well
LAST 7 DAYS: (create a sense of urgency - a closing deadline drives people to action)
- Mass email to everyone in our address book (Google contacts) list
- Mass email to a couple different networking groups I am in (LinkedIn Groups, Facebook groups, mail lists, etc)
- Made a Facebook "Event' titled "Chivas Kickstarter Deadline" and invited everyone in our Friends lists to it (not sure if this is still an option)
We were fortunate enough to double our goal of $10,000, but we were not fortunate enough to be featured by Kickstarter. Probably half of the backers that supported us came from our own extended network of family, friends and friends of friends. We also had incredible help from a number of people along the way (see our "Thank You" page here: http://www.chivazwear.com/pages/thank-you)
DON'T FORGET THE APPROVAL PROCESS:
One more thing to note: It might take a week or more to get your application approved. We originally thought that we would submit our application and then start seeing the funds roll in. Instead what happened is that it took Kickstarter a full week to approve our application. This waiting was incredibly painful and I wish someone would have told us about it ahead of time. So that is why we are telling you!