Lessons Learned from My 1st Kickstarter

A week has passed since my TAAK Kickstarter campaign ended and memories of it feel somewhat distant. I’m taking a little break from thinking about it. Pretty soon I will need to start putting the finishing details on the final product and start placing orders with my suppliers as I want the product to be well, awesome. All of this means that my campaign was successful so for that I am proud and grateful but man alive, it was emotionally exhausting. Months of research, interviewing, ideation, tweaking endlessly and finally, launching. Two plus weeks of intense anticipation. Emotions ebbing and flowing like the tide. One moment I would feel fantastic, when the funding was rolling in and the messages of support were filling up my phone and inbox. The next moment there would be a dead quiet lull in activity, making me doubt the validity of my product. I do recommend doing it though if you think you have something worthwhile to provide to the world . Launching a Kickstarter campaign demands every ounce of your creativity, ingenuity, resourcefulness, humility and determination and it teaches you some great life lessons.

Lesson #1: DO NOT RUSH YOUR LAUNCH

My target demographic was families with kids. I knew that the original proposed launch date was the same week as spring break for most parents I know. I wanted to launch a week before to get the early momentum of those dollah dollah billz. Luckily my advisors very gently coaxed me out of it and helped me understand that TAAK wasn’t ready. (I don’t even think I was fully ready when I actually launched). They were 1000% right. The number of times from the pointed I wanted to launch, that I went back to hone my idea, cut down on the words, re-think the rewards, even make a last second significant back-to-the-drawing-board tweak on the product itself is staggering to think of. If I had rushed my launch, it would have been a disaster. So do not rush an idea. It’s never wise. Think everything out fully. Be as confident as you can that you have dotted every i and crossed every t before unleashing your brilliant idea on to the world to gobble up.

Lesson #2: KEEP YOUR FRIENDS CLOSE…

Throughout the process, even early on, as I started thinking about the users of my product, I kept a Google Sheet with an alphabetized record of all of my closest contacts that I felt I could rely on to possibly help fund my campaign. There were 150 people on it, many of them in my target demographic, people with kids the same age as mine.

Out of 85 backers, 53 of them I know so friends and family are super important in getting funding. Gone are the days of Kickstarter lore when every decent idea had a VC lined up to invest in it. I learned that you have to be very scrappy and relentless in your outreach, almost to the point of annoyance which I am sure was the case for some of the people I continuously sent reminders to. I tried to be strategic and not totally be obnoxious about it but never in my life have I had to swallow my pride so hardcore and basically beg for financial support. It was humbling and life-affirming as so many people cared about my project.

Lesson #3: …AND YOUR REDDIT TROLLS CLOSER

My campaign was only active for around 17 days. During the second week when funding was slowing down, I decided to reach out to the reddit community. I knew that it was a crapshoot but I was game for anything at this point. My first comment was the following:

I didn’t take it too personal. Some people genuinely get super upset at attempts to self-aggrandize if they feel the platform is inappropriate. I did find some of the suggestions pretty constructive and so I did actually reach out to the autism community thanks to reddit user NotGoodAtHiding. Thank you sir or madam. I gained valuable insight from your suggestion and apologize if I offended you.

Lesson #4: BELIEVE IN YOUR PROJECT

I put my all into this project and so when I reached out to people for funding, I didn’t feel too sheepish about it. I genuinely feel that my product can help families wanting to balance out their kids’ lives and I believe people could sense that in my project and my emails/texts. Even though many of the backers were friends, a few of them said they wouldn’t have backed if they didn’t genuinely like the product so make sure to do all the hard work of making your project well considered and you will have an easy go at making it actually happen.

OK, that’s it. My lessons learned. I am sure the next phase of product fulfillment will come with its own unique set of challenges and frustrations. Until then…

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