chapter 3

What Can I Crowdfund?

You’ve read about what it means to be successful. Now it’s time to consider whether you have a good product.

The Pennies from Many model doesn’t imply that you’ll get a lot of pennies. While crowdfunding is a terrific way to fund a product, you shouldn’t believe that strangers will be throwing lots of money at you just for having a campaign.

We crunched some numbers, collected from the Kickstarter’s statistics page in August, 2014:

57.61% of all 159,054 projects on Kickstarter have gone unfunded.

Of all unsuccessful projects, 74,597, or 46.90%, were not able to surpass 20% of total funding requested.

16,191 projects, or about 10% of all projects, were not able to attract a single dollar in pledges – they raised precisely $0. Sixteen thousand people couldn’t get their mom to kick in a single dollar. We’d like for that not to happen to you.

And even when you’re fully funded, you can still fail by not developing the product with the funds you have. If you’re persistently late or don’t deliver, then your community can turn; at that point you’ll have not fans but haters. Certain founders have faced threats and harassment after they kept missing their own deadlines for delivering rewards.

Finally, you can’t forget that crowdfunding is only the first step. You’re trying to build a business, and crowdfunding is supposed to be a substitute for a loan. Running a successful campaign is a means to the end of creating an enduring business.

Crowdfunding is no cakewalk. It’s not just uncertain not just on Kickstarter; no other platform is quite as transparent as Kickstarter, and it is by most accounts the platform with the highest rates of success.

But don’t be afraid. It’s not all a matter of luck. The skill of running a campaign can be mastered. You’ve just got to pick the right product.

What kinds of products work best for crowdfunding?

Picking the right product to crowdfund is the most important part of the crowdfunding campaign. And the most important part of picking the right product is finding something that deeply appeals to a particular audience.

First of all, you should be crowdfunding for a specific product, not to start a store selling many products.

There’s a reason that you only find products, not stores launched on the biggest crowdfunding platforms. People want to back tangible products, not a cool idea for a company.

If you want to get your business started with crowdfunding, then you have to campaign with your best product, be it a toy, an electronic, or a craft. You may try to build a store for related products later, but you should only branch out after your product has really taken off.

You should also be targeting your product towards a particular community.

Think about it. A great deal of the appeal of crowdfunding is being connected directly by the users who will eventually become your customers. You’re bypassing the local bank to reach users directly because the bank doesn’t understand the product and the number of people who want the product.

But in order for there to be fans in the first place, your product has to be something that they can’t pick up at Walmart, and not easily found online. There has to be a community that craves your product for a problem that’s not being solved right now.

If there’s no dedicated community for a product, then there’s no deep reservoir of revenue to really tap into.

There are lots of communities that you can target. Think in terms of niches: perhaps there’s an annoyance plaguing anyone who knits; maybe squash players have a persistent unmet need; air travel is still pretty uncomfortable.

Ideally, it helps if you’re dying to get a product yourself. Chances are, there are people just like you who need exactly the same thing. Go out there to develop the prototype and tap into that need. 

Special note for those launching with Kickstarter:
If you choose to launch on Kickstarter, be aware that its rules are more strict. In order to host a campaign on Kickstarter, you must already have a prototype set up; it does not allow you to feature photorealistic renderings of your product. So if you want to launch on Kickstarter, prototype first.

Inspiration

Here are a few products funded by various platforms that tap directly into the needs of a community, just to get you thinking.

lüft offers breathable outerwear made with special membranes that’s perfect for skiers.

QardioArm is a discrete, stylish device to measure blood pressure.

Brydge is a keyboard that turns your iPad into a laptop.

ProGauntlet, a swordfighting glove that’s particularly suited for historical European martial arts.

FlyKly Smart Wheel is a motored pedal-assist that lets you bike without breaking a sweat.

These are pretty zany products, right? Well, they’ve all found their community to reach their funding goals. Don’t you have a great product that you want the world to use? Well, go out to develop a prototype and crowdfund it.

Need more inspiration? You can always explore current projects on Indiegogo and Kickstarter to see what’s working out now.

Summary

Not everything works to be crowdfunded. The best products are the ones with a community of people who deeply wants it.

We discuss in future chapters how to build a campaign around this product, including the importance of prototyping, shooting a video, and creating compelling landing pages.

Next chapter

4. The Importance of Planning

4 min

Start your free 14-day trial today!