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Crowdfund Your Project?

How to
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How Do You Crowdfund Your Project?
By Joanna Marlow

writer at hdyd

“What if the cure for cancer is trapped inside the mind of someone who can’t afford an education?”

What a depressing thought, right? But it's true. What if you have an amazing, innovative idea, but not the resources to make it happen? In most cases, these resources translate to funding. Limiting those who aren’t privileged with the knowledge or contacts for raising capital.

Enter Kickstarter, a funding platform for creative projects launched back in 2009. Any creative individual can upload their project to ask their community for financial backing. The platform’s mission is to turn pipe dreams into reality.

Since Kickstarter launched, 21 million people have contributed to projects, $6.4 billion has been raised in total, and 214,993 projects have been successfully funded.

How to crowdfund your project title=

How do you set up a crowdfunding campaign?

It’s likely that the ‘no cure, no pay’ structure makes people feel more comfortable that their money won’t be lost on nothing. Creators of crowdfunding campaigns must set a funding goal and deadline. If the goal isn’t met, no funders are charged.

So, as a creator, it's important to successfully pitch your idea to ensure you get enough investment. 

Creative Ideas title=

How do you pitch a creative idea?

According to Kickstarter, a lot of pledges come from friends and family. However, the first and foremost reason for people to back a project is that they believe in it. 

To convince potential backers, creators spend a lot of time on their campaign page. They develop videos, photos and stories to illustrate why their project matters, and offer awards in return for pledges.

The concept is clear, yet the question remains; how do you stand out from thousands of projects uploaded to Kickstarter every month?

We take a look at some of the most creative crowdfunding campaigns to date, to explore what made their idea so unique and which appeals were used to convince backers.

#1 Exploding Kittens: Make a product people actually want

Kicking off this list with a campaign that reached its funding goal the fastest of all time; the card game Exploding Kittens.

Game designer Elan Lee (former Chief Design Officer at Xbox) set out to create a game that required a real-life connection between players. 

With a goal set to $10,000, the campaign reached $1 million in just one day. 

What got people so excited about a card game in a world full of visually stunning video games? As it turns out, many people share Lee’s desire for human connection, but often lose interest halfway through most tabletop games.

Exploding Kittens game title=

Teaming up with cartoonist Matthew Inman and creative director Shane Small, a “highly strategic kitty-powered version of Russian Roulette” was conceived. Players draw cards until killed by “exploding kitten cards”. Special tactic cards are played to avoid their demise, or put other players in danger.

As the deck shrinks, the chances of an explosion increase, and the intensity rises.

The humorous cat illustrations by Inman were integral to the game and its campaign page, showing the creation process by sharing early design attempts.

Campaign goal: $10,000
Total pledged: $8,782,571

#2 Aftersocks: Demonstrate how the product works

Number two on the list, Aftersocks was created with a much more practical purpose.

While a lot of people love how fabulous high-heels look, only those who wear them know how sore they make your feet feel after a night out.

Founders Monika Trojanowska and Joel Bijlmer developed Aftersocks as the perfect solution to this problem. 

Aftersocks title=

It goes without saying that this ingenious idea resonated with high-heel lovers around the world, with a campaign that described the pain points so well (pun intended). 

The elegantly designed socks have a PVC sole with cushioned extra layers to hug your feet. Campaign videos show how you can fold them up and fit them into a clutch bag, or back pocket.

They showed lots of convincing videos demonstrating the product, including reactions of passers-by in a busy nightlife area testing the Aftersocks in the street, and someone gracefully striding across a huge pile of Lego bricks wearing Aftersocks. Sometimes, it's got to be seen to be believed. 

Campaign goal: $5,000
Total pledges: $93,091

#3 Fidget Cube: Use emotion

Just like the creators behind Aftersocks, brothers Matthew and Mark McLachlan designed their product as a solution to a common problem. Although they felt their problem was unrightfully perceived as problematic or even inappropriate; fidgeting.

Designing the modern-day version of the anti-stress toy, the McLachlan brothers decided that fidgeting should no longer be frowned upon. On the contrary, fidgeting should be recognized as a process that can have a positive effect on performance. With help from the right tool, the Fidget Cube.

FidgetCube title=

Each side of the cube has various buttons, switches, and knobs that can be clicked, flipped, and rolled. A little desk-sized gadget that you inconspicuously play with during long conference calls. Fidgeting away, it actually helps you focus.

Backed by scientific articles about the cause and benefits of fidgeting, the MacLachlan brothers' mission to destigmatize the act really hit home. Besides offering a great product, this emotional appeal to revolutionize the way fidgeting is perceived made all the difference.

Campaign goal: $15,000
Total pledges: $6,465,690

#4 Kung Fury: Show the finished portion of a film to make people want to see more

Pitching a film project is a whole other ballgame. Obviously, most campaigns for film projects show a trailer of the material that’s already shot.

Kung Fury (2015) is a great example. Production of this tribute to 80’s action movies was already halfway completed. When funds fell short, they tried their luck with Kickstarter.

Jampacked with the most outrageously thrilling action scenes they had filmed, the campaign video left viewers hungry for more. The additional behind-the-scenes footage and imagery of stunts and visual effects were equally impressive.

Film set Kung Fury title=

Even though campaign creator David Sandberg was initially unclear about the awards he offered, the project reached its goal as backers were so excited to see the end result.

Campaign goal: $200,000
Total pledges: $630,019

#5 Boy Howdy! The Story of CREEM Magazine: Offer unique, limited edition items as a reward

The creators behind Boy Howdy! The Story of CREEM Magazine took an alternative approach. 

As CREEM Magazine and its late publisher Barry Kramer rose to fame in the 1960s, a lot of the material featured in the campaign video came from the magazine’s vault. 

Complementing this footage with a large number of interviews with artists and key figures in the magazine's history - it created a walk down memory lane for those who lived through these times as fans.

Besides that, they offered some real goodies! Rewards included limited-edition merchandise, vintage guitars, and other valuable memorabilia signed by artists, or even having your name in the film’s credits. 

Campaign goal: $100,000
Total pledges: $117,186

#6 Coolest Cooler: Have a proper business plan

This one serves as a cautionary tale and reminder that backing a project comes at a risk.

The 2014 campaign described Coolest Cooler as a “portable party disguised as a cooler”. Featuring a bright-colored retro design, it offers a cooler, ice crusher, blender, Bluetooth speaker, USB charger, LED lid light, integrated storage, all in one.

Coolest Cooler title=

Impromptu parties in the park with music and ice-cold margaritas are a reality with the Coolest Cooler, which is why 62,642 backers made it the second most successful Kickstarter campaign ever. 

By the end of 2019, it was one of the platform's biggest failures. In five years, only two-thirds of the backers had received their product, while it was already available to the public.

CEO Ryan Grepper ensured them the company had to make sales before shipping out more coolers to backers. However, the team put the coolers up for sale on Amazon, at an even lower price than the average pledge. “Not cool!” according to frustrated backers.

Chinese import tariffs and supply chain difficulties were to blame, forcing the company to shut down and leave its backers in the cold.

Apparently, despite raking up more than 13 million dollars with a campaign goal of $50,000, they still had insufficient funds to make their product successful. 

This just goes to show that backing a super exciting, innovative idea with millions of dollars still doesn’t guarantee success. It all comes down to the plan, constant research, team collaboration, and so much more. 

Campaign goal: $50,000
Total pledges: $13,285,226

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