Is there a Trick to Kickstarter? What we Learned in 30 days

My Bees-ness tips... (yes I did this sketch ;) )!

Lately, I have gotten a lot of inquiries about Kickstarter. What is the trick? Is there a strategy? What have I learned in those nerve-wracking cliffhanging 30 days that I can share with others to help THEM achieve their goals? I have thought about this for a month, long and hard. I have thought about our mistakes, what we learned, what we did, what we still need to get done. I was tempted to write a post that describes how valuable a good video is, how to assess the different crowd sourcing platforms to see which one is best for you, how to calculate costs around your campaign and what you should aim for as a goal amount, how to run a viral media campaign.

But during the last week, I realized something big. It started with the Kickstarter surveys that I sent out to everyone who contributed to our campaign. On our surveys, in addition to contact information, I asked three additional questions:

–       What did we do right?

–       What advice do you have for us?

–       Why did you choose to support this campaign?

In going through the responses, I realized that close to 70% of the people surveyed on our campaign (that is around 190 people) were somehow connected to us – friends – and even fr-enemies – from our former work places, family, preschools, blogs, Facebook pages, towns, schools, teams, support groups… this was not a random crowd of people who believed in our idea, finding us from one of our many news articles or sleepless nights of campaigning. No, this was not a crowed at all. This was a community. A community of people who have been there throughout our lives quietly believing or disbelieving in our crazy extra-unordinary tendencies. Yes, some did find our Kickstarter campaign, but then they too became close colleagues and supporters – certainly not strangers in a crowd.

It is a lie to call this “crowd” sourcing, because a crowed implies a group of strangers. And a group of strangers this was not. I am sure if we hadn’t spent a month making the incredible video, or consecutive sleepless nights planning, strategizing, and writing – maybe they wouldn’t have taken this 30-day campaign as seriously. But ultimately, these people while quite supportive of the idea – their leading reason behind backing the campaign was because of their relationship to us.

This got me thinking – about all of Balyolu’s recent successes, and even the successes in my life.  Rarely ever did I or Balyolu win something because of the merit of the idea. It has in fact almost always been because of the passion, or because someone connected with the fact that we would find a way to achieve our goals, in this competition or the next.

I often ponder about success. How do ideas become viral? How did J.K Rowling or Steve Jobs become the entrepreneurial thought leaders of our recent history?

Here is my theory. In the beginning – they probably had terrible wacky ideas that actually very few people thought were all that good. They probably – like us – applied for countless competitions, submitted hundreds of drafts, received thousands of rejections. But somewhere, early on, someone believed in them. Listened to their idea, helped them refine it, gave them the confidence to believe that they were more than some font obsessed drop-out or some waitress writer.

Me – Kickstarter – Balyolu – Our Team – if we will be anything, it is because people have believed in us, even when our ideas sounded bonkers.

The bulk of what you see on Kickstarter is, as you know, nuts. Wings for cellphones, personalized comic books, and recently someone wrote to me about something that made no sense but sounded like a Noah’s Arc JUST for pollinators (think, bees, bats, and humming-birds preparing for the apocalypse sailing down a major tributary).

But you know what ultimately wins – if you can make someone believe in your lunatic nonsensical passion.

So ready for my Kickstarter tips? Go make those crazy videos about apocalyptic bats, write those updates about how you are knitting rugs out of fruit fibers, meticulously break down the costs of how $15,000 will help you launch a business where you make chairs entirely from melted-down Jolly Ranchers. And if you are still not satisfied with these tips, there is always KICKSTARTER SCHOOL, they will tell you far more than I can about strategy. But in the end know this – the people who will be supporting you may not necessarily be your direct family – but they are from the community all around you – and if you want to be successful – show them your passion, give them a reason to believe in you, and protect that belief carefully – because more than the funds, their conviction is going to be what launches your new career.

More tips below, just in case ;).

About Cat

Catherine de Medici Jaffee is a National Geographic Young Explorer, a Fulbright Scholar, a Luce Fellow, the Founder of Balyolu: the Honey Road, and a lunatic about honey culture in the Caucasus. Raised on a farm in the Colorado Rockies, Cat grew up loving animals, dirt, and altitude. Her dedication and passion for animals, agriculture, and women leaders has launched her across the world as a Luce and Fulbright scholar: to raise Aigamo ducks in Japan, to research yak trade caravans in Sikkim, and to study rural women’s migration in Turkey. In particular, Turkey - with its fish hung like laundry from windows, its 9,000 species of flowers, and its delicious honey - continues to lure Cat back to its borders. Cat’s love for Turkey, the mountains, agriculture, and women’s leadership blend together sweetly in her new venture Balyolu and her blog Inspired Beeing. You can most frequently find her jumping on a mountain, running from angry bees, cooking in villages, hitching on dirt roads, or joking with Turkcell about her internet woes. Cat is joined by her partner in crime Claire Bangser, artist, photographer, writer, and globe wanderer who believes in creative storytelling as a way to powerfully connect people across mental and physical borders. From working with small-scale women farmers in Mali, to documenting peoples' lives along a 2,000 mile bike tour in the US, she finds that every person (and bee) has an important story to tell and much wisdom to share (speaking of Wisdom, Claire just published her first book, Ride Somewhere Far. Check it out on our Link Roll). These days, you're most likely to find Claire upside down, yodeling from a mountaintop, making tragic mistakes in Turkish, or eating meat for Cat.

Posted on April 1, 2012, in Bees Keep People, Business, Culture, Inspired!, Pop Culture, Women and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Thanks for sharing the making-the-video process, it’s so neat and simple! (Though I assume still took ages and ages…!)

  2. unique and funny …
    Greetings …. I eagerly visit

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