It seems like the press can’t wait two days between awful depressing articles about how Kickstarter encourages fraud, broken promises, and tears. Today I’d like to take you through a project thatshipped — let’s see what we can learn. I interviewed Diana Rodgers of Wonder Threads.
Diana sought funding to expand her tech accessories business, which she’s been working on since 2008. Her cloth sleeve will cleverly disguise your Apple product as a composition book or interoffice envelope. The project raised $18,000, about 30% more than she’d set as her goal.
Rule #1: Figure out how you’re going to build it before you price your product.
Too often we hear of projects who don’t realize the costs inherent in producing and shipping a real live product to people across the globe. Diana had been manufacturing sleeves for years, so she already knew that her product tended to sell well at stores. She also figured out exactly which vendors she’d work with beforehand, and how long each step of the production process would take, from printing to cutting to sewing. Therefore, she could confidently price at a slight discount to her eventual retail price.
Rule #2: Offer relevant rewards.
We’ve heard tales of projects getting bogged down in T-shirts and postcards, and the complexities of shipping different-sized packages. Logistics is *hard*, particularly when you have oodles of product to make. Diana’s prizes were sensible — the farthest departure from things made of thread and sold on her website was a “virtual high-five” — very easy to fulfill.
Rule #3: Be prepared for customer service.
Before Kickstarter, Diana would sell to retailers, who would then sell to customers. Now, “customer service has become a bigger part of my job”, she says. That can be a plus, since all the enthusiasm comes directly to you. However, these things take time.
Rule #4: Prepare for delays.
Diana set her ship date aggressively, knowing exactly how long the process *should* take. However, first the fabric was late, and then a critical machine broke down. Ask yourself, does anyone look at the ship dates when they’re pledging their money on Kickstarter? It’s only after pledging that people start getting antsy.
Rule #5: Set realistic limits.
Given Diana’s careful planning, what would she have done if she’d gotten 5 times or 50 times the number of preorders that she’d bargained for? “I am so glad that didn’t happen,” Diana says. “It would have taken that much longer.” A product that was a month delayed could easily have spiraled out of control.
Never have a product reward level that doesn’t have a limit. You can always add an extra reward level with a new ship date if there is enough demand — that way, it’s a lot harder to be a victim of your own success.