By: Regina Vatterott
Want to know how to turn a good idea and a couple hundred bucks into a crowdfunding success? This is exactly what our team did with our smart pill box, EllieGrid. It took months of research, trial, and error to eventually reach success. My hope is that this post will be the guide I wish I had at the beginning.
First I will cover the importance of a community and how we built ours. Then I will answer how we decided on which crowdfunding platform to use (*cough* Indiegogo *cough*). After that, I will discuss how we created our content including; our video, pictures, and text.
Building a Community
Let’s get one thing straight before we get ahead of ourselves; it is nearly impossible to run a successful crowdfunding campaign without spending a significant amount of time and energy ahead of time.
How much time?
The standard recommendation is three months, but a minimum of two months.
Why this long?
Because an engaged community is the number one asset for a founder looking to launch a campaign. You cannot build a community overnight. It takes time to build a following and trust.
How do you build a following?
There are many ways. You should start by telling your personal network about it, pitching at local events, and engaging on social media. Pitching at local events is the best place to start. You can find local startup events through Startup Grind.
So what do I do with this social media stuff?
Create social media profiles and share valuable content and ask questions. We choose to use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Instagram to build a community for EllieGrid.
Facebook: I created a Facebook business account page and then shamelessly invited all my friends on Facebook to like our EllieGrid page and asked my co-founders to do the same.
Twitter: Followed all of the thought leaders in the space & participated in twitter chats. In our case, this included chats in the healthcare & wellness space. I used Notify to see who was talking about pill boxes and other relevant topics. You can also use Google Alerts.
Pinterest: Our first strategy was to create boards with valuable content for people with specific conditions who we thought might benefit from EllieGrid. The strategy has recently shifted to boards that align more with our brand for being an empowering wellness company. Boards are now more relaxed and cover topics like food and wellness.
LinkedIn: Believe it or not, there is a lot of valuable content that is shared on LinkedIn! My favorite thing about it is that you can post one thing on Monday and it will still be showing to your network and or publicly a week or so later, unlike Twitter and other social platforms.
Instagram: Our Instagram is more focused on the team. Our handle is even @EllieGrid_Team. We did this because backers love to hear about the founders’ stories. This is where we share pictures of office ping pong tournaments and team dinners. The purpose here is to show that we are a small tight-knit group of not only business partners but friends.
Readdit: This is one platform that we did not use but probably should have. Founders who are well-versed in the platform have a huge advantage because the topic-specific communities of chats called sub-readdits are very engaged and get fairly specific. However, this is a community that requires participation before they will upvote or even let you post content.
Need help keeping up with all of these?
When is the best time to schedule posts?
Check out this link.
Kickstarter or Indiegogo?
Okay so by this point you have an idea and a community who likes the idea. Now the question is are you team Pink or team Green? Rather, are you going to use Indiegogo or Kickstarter? Both are incredibly powerful tools. We only used Indiegogo so I can only give my feedback for them but overall, we were so pleased with our decision. Our favorite part of Indiegogo (which is the reason we ultimately used them) is the fact that they are easy to get a hold of, responsive, and genuinely want to help you! I had personally had a hard time trying to communicate with the Kickstarter team. Before we even launched on Indiegogo, we had a team of people who we had spoken to, given advice, and help devise a game plan. The most valuable part of this was planning when they were going to include us in their email blasts to their networks.
Another reason why we choose Indiegogo was because of their partnership with Arrow Electronics. They offer what is called an “Arrow Certification” which is basically their stamp of approval that says that our electronics are well thought out and likely to function as promised. This gave our backers and extra sense of confidence in our product. Arrow also helped us source components, invited us to their offices for consultations, established a long-term relationship, and even ended up giving us $75k in additional flash funding! You can read more about their flash funding opportunities on their website. So needless to say, we were pleased with our decision!
Content & Video
No matter which platform you choose, Indiegogo or Kickstarter, both require content on the campaign in the form of a video, pictures, and text.
Video: No you do not need to pay an expensive team to write, film and edit your video. We wrote our script ourselves, used our family’s cameras, and Nic, our CPO, edited it together. However, this took a long time to do. I can’t tell you how many times we re-wrote the script and re-shot the same scenes. In the end, I think our video came out well and really showcased our team and product exactly how we wanted.
Pictures: This was the easier part! We ask our friends who knew more about photography to help us for a day. We came in with examples of what we wanted and $60 dollars later we had some great shots!
Text: The body of the campaign is also very important. We looked at other campaigns that were doing well and then saved our favorites for inspiration. We drafted up the text and then used PowerPoint to place text and images together and saved them as images (I am not suggesting this is the best way, only stating that this is how we did it). Then we uploaded those images to Indiegogo.
Once we were ready to go live, we used Green Inbox to email all of our family and friends! This service does cost money but we agree that is was worth it and we would totally use it again! We spent about $533.40 on their service and saw a $4,356 return!
After that, it was all about getting into Indiegogo’s newsletter’s and getting press. In my experience, it was hard to get a journalist to write about your crowdfunding campaign. It is an easier story to pitch to Facebook pages that have large followings in your space. For example, we were covered by OMG Facts & Rockets Are Cool. OMG Facts produced a video as a total surprise. Their video received over 354k views. We directly reached out and pitched to Rockets Are Cool. Their video received over 388k views.
I hope this helps! If you feel like you need additional guidance, Indiegogo has a fabulous Essential Guide to Crowdfunding as well as a step by step planner. Good luck!