Lecture in Progress. Still in progress…

The positives from failing to hit your Kickstarter target.

33 days later and we didn’t hit the Kickstarter target we set ourselves for Lecture in Progress — an educational resource that exists to help the next generation of creatives make better career decisions.

Below I want to share a few lessons we’ve learnt as well as what we plan to do next. To caveat everything that follows, we are acutely aware it didn’t hit target and the following points are not meant as excuses. It’s tough to take when something doesn’t work as you’d hoped but it’s been an invaluable experience and some of the conversations it’s generated off the back of it hopefully mean we’ll find another way to continue the project.

A few thanks before we start. First up to all the creatives that donated their time in creating artwork for the rewards. That time and energy unfortunately won’t be reflected in us making any of them but we are incredibly grateful for you getting behind the project from the outset.

To those that did back the project it means a lot that you believe in what we’re trying to do and support us in that way. To the 138 backers who helped us reach £18,364 of the £35,000 target a HUGE thank you! The feeling when the Kickstarter notification pops up on your phone is a good one — I just wish it had happened a bit more!

I also want to thank everyone that supported the project through talking about it and sharing it as well as taking the time to speak to me in person, on the phone or over email. The overall response has been incredible, your feedback and support has been hugely appreciated and from across the creative industry it feels like we’re onto something. We’ve not got it right yet but we don’t feel we’re too far off.

So why don’t we think it worked. The elephant in the room here is we’re trying to build a business primarily on people paying for online content. It’s the feedback we got from Kickstarter before we launched and it’s the recurring theme throughout the campaign. It’s also been said we’re trying to charge a demographic already saddled with increased university tuition fees and living costs.

We still believe this is the model, we know the captive audience will be smaller than It’s Nice That and going after banner ads and native advertising won’t be sustainable or future proof. We need to look at who and when we introduce paid membership and at what price.

We committed to and invested money in building the first version of the website to best demonstrate what it is we plan to do. Some of the feedback we’ve had is that it’s still not 100% clear as to what content and how much content we’ll be generating as well as exactly how things like the awards and studio visits will work. We’re also aware that the content will be built from the ground up and in the first instance there won’t be that much of it. A number of people simply said they would join later in the year when they know what to expect.

We also know from our research that Kickstarter is great for physical product related campaigns. Something where you very easily understand what you are buying with additional material if you back at a higher level. It’s not impossible for service and subscription based campaigns to succeed and we know people that have done it successfully.

One of the things we struggled to work out was who the campaign was coming from. In the end we went for The HudsonBec Group, the holding company that It’s Nice That and Anyways are also part of. In hindsight, and from a number of people’s comments, they don’t know who this is. We wanted to avoid using It’s Nice That as Lecture in Progress is a separate company but it would of potentially been better coming from ‘Will Hudson and Alex Bec’ as I think people respond better to ‘people’ than ‘company’ on Kickstarter (especially when that company is a completely new entity).

Finally, we thought it best to launch at the start of the academic year (end of September) as we thought it being timely would benefit in a number of ways. The reality is that there’s a lot going on in those first few weeks back, for both staff and students and this was something else competing for time and attention. We would have potentially been better to hold off a month or two and given it more space.

That said, it still might not have worked and hit target. That goes for all the reasons above. I don’t regret doing the Kickstarter campaign at all, one of the biggest positives to come out of it is we’ve not quite got it right and it’s better to identify that in 33 days rather than commit to and invest in staff, developers, equipment and any number of other costs only for it to unravel in the first 6 months.

To state the obvious Kickstarter kick starts projects. We’ve seen it many times over the years on It’s Nice That and great projects have come to life as a result of it. Through not hitting our target we will not be able to do the things we immediately planned but we’ll continue to meet people and get feedback on what we’re trying to do as well as work out other ways to make the project happen. From the positive response we’ve had we’re keen to find a way to make it work and will look at all our options before making a decision.

Here’s to the next steps of Lecture in Progress…