Looking to Kickstart(er) Your Venture? Start Here with These Useful Tips!

IDEA Coach Charlie Stevenson contributed to this article. 

It seems that Kickstarter has become the new must-do for every startup looking to create a new opportunity – and gain exposure. One of IDEA’s long-time supporters and coach, Charlie Stevenson, organized a Kickstarter campaign with IDEA venture Fresh Truck - their February campaign raised over $30K! Charlie sat down with us to explore how this platform can be beneficial for your next big idea.

What’s the first thing you would say to a startup interested in Kickstarter?

My best piece of advice is think everything through and take it slow as you launch your Kickstarter campaign: “slow is smooth and smooth is fast.” With any capital raising effort, including Kickstarter, you should have a clear product or service with a solid value proposition and tight and simple messaging before you ask for a single dollar. Kickstarter offers a quick and easy way to raise money, but this doesn’t mean it should be a quick and easy process for your team. On the contrary, like pitching a VC or Angel, you need to do a lot of time-intensive prep work and really think about your audience before you pitch. Your Kickstarter page is essentially a multimedia rich ‘pitch’ with incentives and the potential to do as much harm to your branding and first impression as it does good. So take it slow and raise some money the first time, the right way.
My second piece of advice? Find a talented friend with a camera who is studying video production and see if they want to help you out with the video. A professional and captivating pitch video will give your project the credibility needed to win over “Backers” and inspire donations.

What contributed to Fresh Truck’s success?

Fresh Truck’s success was based on its simple and honest messaging that clearly laid out who they were, what they were doing, and why they were doing it. With a mix of easy and understandable written content, a clear use of the proceeds and a beautiful video that showed their passion, honesty and professionalism as a team, people were inspired to back their project.

When is the right time for a venture to consider a campaign on this platform?

A venture should consider Kickstarter as a financing option when it is solidly in the “Go” stage of development. You need a solid business plan reviewed by advisors, a product or service concept tested by at least 100 members of your target demo and mature messaging. Once you have people signing checks to you, the game changes and you enter a whole new world of accountability. A venture should be ready for this high level of responsibility and be ready to keep the promises made to Backers.

Think you’re set? Check out Charlie’s analysis first:

Pros

  • Raise money without ceding any equity
  • Great way to build a grass roots following for your product or service.
  • Creates an opportunity for great PR hits as well as good word of mouth buzz
  • You can attract interest all over the nation and further from micro-investors, expanding your investment reach beyond the local community
  • Kickstarter can serve as an affirmation or proof of concept for your business – if you don’t get any Backers, then your product needs refining and further testing

Cons

  • There are certain criteria for raising money on Kickstarter related to your product or service – it must be ‘creative’ in nature
  • As a potential first impression to the wider community, Kickstarter can do as much harm to your brand as good if you are not prepared
  • It can be a distraction if you don’t have a clear product or service developed
  • If you are even $1 short of your goal when the campaign ends, you don’t raise a dime
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