The Product Hunt Bounce

Today we took the difficult decision of both extending the length of our crowdfunding campaign, as well as lowering its funding goal. Here’s why.

You don’t set out to raise $100k within thirty days if you don’t expect to accomplish that goal. In fact, this is how confident each Saent was prior to launch:

Christina: $200k
Fleur: $580k
Josh: $350k
Russell: $300k
Stephen: $225k
Tim: $175k

In reality, we’re now at ~$35k of our $100k goal, on the original last day of our campaign. Changing length and goal now intuitively feels like cheating, which made it a difficult decision for us. But three key factors convinced us this is the right step to take.

1. Fixed versus flexible funding

Had our campaign been fixed funding, we wouldn’t have considered lowering the goal (and Indiegogo wouldn’t have allowed us). If people pledge their money based on a successful outcome of $100k, you can’t suddenly lower the goal and still take their money.

Since we’re operating on flexible funding, meaning we’ll get the money no matter what anyway, the goal amount doesn’t affect the pay out of pledged funds. We’re on the hook to produce and ship Saent whether we raise $35k or $1M, regardless of the goal we initially set.

2. Minimum production volume

We didn’t pick the $100k goal because we like the sound of that number; it’s based on a calculation of costs, the most important one being the minimum order we have to place with our manufacturer in Shenzhen (China).

The factory in Shenzhen where the first Saents will be produced (photo: Russell Haines).

Luckily the response from consumers, businesses and press has been overwhelming, to say the least. Hundreds of people have already funded the project (thank you!), but many, many others have pledged to place (large) pre-orders outside of Indiegogo in September and October, or to buy the product as soon as it ships in November.

This has strengthened our confidence that we can move ahead with production and cover whatever gap there might be with other sources of seed funding we’ve already secured.

3. The Product Hunt effect

Part of our strategy was to promote our campaign through Product Hunt. With one of the most influential “hunters” on board to submit our product upon launch, this looked like a sure win.

Unfortunately we found out 24 hours before launch that Product Hunt has become much stricter in featuring crowdfunding campaigns. There’s been too much vaporware, so understandably they’re clamping down on hunts for crowdfunding campaigns that haven’t already blown past their funding goals.

We reached out directly to Product Hunt to see if there was any possibility that they could let us through. Because they really like our product, and it was clear that we weren’t just peddling a bunch of pretty renderings that would never be made, they agreed to set up a listing for Saent if we put together a special offer for the Product Hunt community. This required a custom landing page, payment integration of that page with Indiegogo and a bunch of other technical stuff.

By the time all of that was developed, tested and working correctly, several weeks had passed. We finally launched on Product Hunt on Monday the 27th of July. Then this happened:

The spike at the beginning reflects our original emailing of pre-registrations. The campaign than clearly falls flat until Product Hunt launches our special offer.

Not only did the Product Hunt community like our offer, we saw renewed interest from the press; Fast Company, Quartz, CityLab and others wrote about Saent. (We even had a review request from the New York Times!)

Until this happened, I didn’t realize just how bad missing out on the Product Hunt effect at launch actually was. Had this momentum been added right at the start as originally planned, it’s not unlikely we would have ridden a steady wave towards our $100k goal.

The table at the top shows visits to our campaign page per week. The bottom one shows campaign donations. As you can see, donations in the last week are much higher, even though visitor numbers are comparable to earlier weeks. This shows a much higher conversion, even though the campaign is running towards its end and clearly falling short of its original funding goal. Also note the last week is only halfway (now Wednesday evening USA time).

Indiegogo’s data (and common sense) shows perception is everything, and people are much more likely to back a campaign which reaches 35% in its first days than in its last week. That means a much higher percentage of the visitors to our campaign page over the past month would have “converted” to purchase our product.

Onwards and upwards

With these factors in mind, we feel it would be a shame to shut down our campaign now. The momentum from Product Hunt keeps building and we know we’ll definitely ship the product because of the pre-orders we also have outside of the platform.

We’ve therefore decided to extend our campaign with 30 days and lower the funding goal to $50k. This means you can still pre-order your Saent at the reduced price of $39 until early September :)

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