This is just the beginning…

Prototype of Acredite postcards for our Kickstarter campaign

When I first heard that we would be launching a Kickstarter campaign, at the beginning of the semester during my Entrepreneurial Design class, I panicked.

I felt anxious, insecure, and I thought to myself: “how am I suppose to do this?” I didn’t feel like I could make anything good enough to be entitled to ask people for money. If my older self, have told me that I would not only successfully launched the project but also get funded I would have laughed. My friend and classmate, Glenda Capdeville, and I created a social awareness project, called Acredite (“believe” in English), an illustrated postcard campaign featuring 12 stories of Brazilians and their small acts of social change. Our goal is to share all these stories through postcards with the purpose of bringing hope, start a conversation and demonstrate that anyone can contribute to make Brazil a better place. To learn more about our campaign check our Kickstarter campaign: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1925977230/acredite

To my relief, the class didn’t start with the Kickstarter project. Our first project was to choose a community that we wanted to help, research them and create an offering for them. I’ve always wanted to help the Brazilian immigrant community. Since I moved to New York 10 years ago, I felt like there were a lot of challenges I suffered by being an immigrant and feeling an outsider in a new culture, that I wanted to find a way of helping others that felt like myself. I spoke with Brazilians living in the United States and the Executive Director of a non-profit organization that promotes empowerment to the Brazilian community in New York City, called Cidadão Global, to discover ways of how I could help the Brazilian community. To learn more about this project read my post: https://medium.com/@pauladaneze/what-i-learned-from-the-brazilian-community-living-in-the-u-s-ce5767446cd7

From the Brazilian community living in the U.S., I learned that many of them felt like myself: they moved to a new country to follow their dreams, in search of a better life, but never forgot about our home country and wanted the opportunity to give back.

So when the time of starting working on the Kickstarter campaign came, I knew that I needed to focus on finding ways of giving back to Brazil. 
I teamed up with my friend and classmate Glenda because we both felt the same way about our country: hopeless. We were hopeless because of the continued history of corruption and were tired of trusting our governments. We had no idea what to do about our Kickstarter campaign, we just knew we wanted to help Brazilians feeling hope.

Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned during this process:

1. Talk to the experts. We spoke with Brazilians who started non-profits and have done social change in their communities. This was extremely important to find inspiration in moments we found ourselves stuck. We learned some much from their inspiring stories, which guided us forward and gave us the idea of exposing good examples of Brazilians.

2. Share your process. Talk to the users, the people you want to help. Glenda and start reaching out to friends to learn more about their thoughts about Brazil. Once we decided that we wanted to share stories of good examples, we started asking people to share their stories. That helped later when we launched the Kickstarter campaign. Many of our friends and family already knew about it and felt like they were in it with us, and helped us share the campaign on social media.

3. Ask for help. We asked for the help from our advisors (Thank you, Gary Chou and Christina Xu), as well as friends that are good at writing (Thank you, Francisco and Barbara). Besides, throughout the campaign, I asked my friends and my dear husband to share our campaign. (Special thanks to you my love, Manuel, who most successfully got people to back our project). Remember you can always count on the people in your life. (Thank you, everyone, who helped us!)

4. Ask for feedback, but most importantly know when is time to use the feedback and when is time to trash it. We didn’t have good feedback about our concept during an afternoon our professors organized, in which we got feedback from 3 different experts. All of them didn’t really like the postcards ideas and felt a disconnect between our story and the postcards. I felt really lost that day, because I didn’t know how to move forward at that point, and not sure which feedback to follow. In the end, I followed my gut feeling and passion of what I wanted to do: I kept the postcards idea and used the feedback to tell a more compelling story for the Kickstarter campaign.

5. People are lazy. Explain your project as quickly as possible. Sharing the video with the link to the Kickstarter campaign as opposed to only sharing the Kickstarter link was more effective to get donations. People are lazy, and it is easier for them to watch the video first, and if they like what they see, they would make the extra effort of clicking on the link and make a donation.

6. Know your target audience and treat your campaign as a UX design project. Brazilians living in Brazil were our target audience. Still, we used an American platform for crowdfunding. Although the campaign was written in both Portuguese and English, at first, only Americans and my Brazilian friends who knew English were donating. Just when I helped my dad to donate on the Kickstarter website that I realized how complex it was for someone that doesn’t know English to use the site. I decided to change my outreach by onboarding Brazilians on what they needed to do to donate, since many of them didn’t understand English nor the terms of Kickstarter such as “pledge” and “back.” After I made these changes, more Brazilians started donating.

“We all have the power”

Finally, if I could do this all over again, I would have done more research on my target audience and probably engage with them more prior launching the campaign. Most of our donations came from the United States, and I wished more Brazilians living in Brazil had participated too. But taking into consideration, we only had two weeks to create the campaign and two weeks to promote it, and still were able to reach our goal; I feel great.

This is just the beginning of this journey, I can’t wait to start working on this project and sharing good examples of Brazilians through postcards all over Brazil. I’m not sure if they will actually bring the hope and the change we dream of but is definitely a start.