MINDSENSE

Biggest Kickstarter Surprises v.2

in Crowdfunding Journal

This post is part of our online series Crowdfunding Journal which chronicles our open crowdfunding campaign.

As of week 2, and 60% of our funding goal, here are our biggest surprises. Thinking about starting your own campaign, or just a little curious? Read on.

There are no trends; there are only random fluctuations

One thing we thought we’d see is a set of trends and patterns in pledges and other stats. Major publication coverage? We’d expect a spike, and a gradual decline.

Not only are these spikes random half of the time, but there is seemingly no reason why the second to last day shown in the image to the left was our biggest yet since the first two days. Worse, there is seemingly no reason why the following day was our worst funding day, by a wide margin, on a day when we saw more coverage than the day prior. We looked for any pattern: day of the week, holidays, etc., and found none.

Some days we raise hundreds before noon, then mum. Other days, we see nothing until the afternoon, but then it starts pouring in. Some days we see calm yet consistent pledges all day long. Some days we get tons of backers at a very low average pledge, some days we get just a few backers at a very high average pledge.

The lesson here may be to simply not obsess over the stats, the calculations, the trends, and the numbers. There are no trends, we’ve found no patterns – our time is much better spend chatting with our backers, and working on Mail Pilot.

A bug in Amazon’s payment service makes it difficult for some backers outside of the U.S. to pledge

So it turns out there’s a little bug that will lead some backers from outside of the U.S. to believe they are unable to support your campaign. Usually, this is untrue; they can in fact pledge, and there is a workaround for the issue.

We started receiving reports that some of our international fans were not allowed to support us on Kickstarter. After looking in to it, we found out that there is simply a bug and a workaround. More on that here. And, according to Kickstarter’s FAQ, “Anyone, anywhere (with a major credit card) can pledge to Kickstarter projects.”

A New York Times mention didn’t directly result in a ton of backers. A high ranking on Hacker News did.

We were ranked as high as number 3 on Hacker News in our first week, and on that day we saw over $3k in pledges flood in (our biggest day). That same week we were mentioned in David Pogue’s article on Kickstarter in the New York Times, with a link in the online version and a screenshot in the print edition, and saw just over $1k come in (one of our smallest days). That said, we are still simply honored that David Pogue checked out our project and liked it enough to include it in his article, calling Mail Pilot “Ingenious.” Needless to say, we now have quite a few copies of that day’s paper.

People can cancel or reduce their pledges

This freaked us out when we first saw it, because we had definitely did not know about this going into the campaign. Likewise, however, people can increase their pledges. In all, we’ve probably had 10 or so of our first 300 backers adjust their pledge.

You can change and add tiers during the campaign

There’s a limit to the madness, though – if a tier has been selected by at least one backer, all you can do is add a limit to it. That’s pretty big, though, especially if you need to get creative mid-campaign. You can also add tiers, which is something we’re looking at doing to try to entice some of our $5 backers. Finally, you can change everything about a tier that hasn’t been selected. We have one of these: the $5,555 tier. If we come up with a better Kickback, we could actually change this tier, and see if we can entice bigger backers.

Kickstarter’s campaign resources are very useful

Kickstarter provides project creators with plenty to do on the back end of their project. Your project dashboard has all kinds of basic statistic visualizations (we also supplement those with our own, which we will post about soon). If you’re debating which crowd-sourced funding platform to use, we give Kickstarter a huge plus for this.

We’ve gotten 41% funding from Kickstarter referrals

Click to see all columns

Despite what we’ve read, we have gotten a quarter of our funding from Kickstarter referrals (as opposed to external). Initially, it was close to 5%. As our project gained more momentum, it began to show up on the technology page, and even the discover page from time to time. It gets a huge amount of traction from these pages. For both dollars pledged and number of pledges, the technology page and popular page rank number 2 and 3, respectively.

We debated platforms

$35,000 is a lot of money

Going in to this campaign, we knew asking for $35k would be asking for a lot. It’s the smallest amount of money that could sustain our project, our development, and our team of two for half a year, so we knew we had to do it (to not shortchange our product).

We understood that we would basically need to “go viral” to be successful. Well, one week in, we we placed #3 on Hacker News, we had some of the “big dogs” on Twitter sharing our project with their 10, 20, 60 thousand followers, we’ve made an appearance in the New York Times in David Pogue’s article on Kickstarter, and now we’re starting to see blogs spread our screenshots and our message to their readership. I’d like to say we’ve “gone viral.” However, as I write this, we only have one third of our funding. This is huge to us, something worth celebrating, and we appreciate every penny that our backers have pledged to us in support. This came from huge swings in momentum. But we still have $23k and change to go. $35k is a lot of money.

Twitter is huge

After spending a day on the front page of Hacker News, word of our project hit the twittershpere is a big, big way. Neither Josh nor I had been big Twitter users beforehand. We were simply amazed at the support to come out of Twitter, and at how seriously investors and bloggers take you being tweeted by one of the Twitter heavy-weights. This amazed us. At one point in time, Twitter was the biggest source of funds to our project. We’ve had a ton of great conversations with people on Twitter about Mail Pilot. We even had our first $1k backer come from Twitter (thanks again, you know who you are!).

If you’re starting a campaign, one of our top 3 pieces of advice: do not overlook Twitter. It could make or break your campaign.

International support is huge

We’ve been blogged about in French, Swedish, and Dutch. Thanks to Google Chrome and its auto-detection of different languages, we’ve been able to read the nice things these blogs have said about us! Or, at least, what Chrome is telling us they said. Either way, we’ve been simply flattered, and have seen a number of backers come from these blogs to help support our campaign. We’ve also had a few feature requests for different localizations, which we’re bumping up in our roadmap after seeing the outpouring of support for this request.

Feature requests, comments, and messages, oh my!

It could be someone’s full-time job receiving and responding to all of the comments, feature requests, messages, tweets, and emails that we get. We wish we could respond to each and every person that reaches out to us, but we just haven’t been able to keep up. This was a big surprise – people care far more than whether or not they like your project and want to back you, they want to be a part of the process, they want to be up to speed. This is very cool, and we’ve really enjoyed the ride with our initial backers so far.

 

Thanks for reading, and we hope this has been helpful! If you enjoyed this post, consider subscribing to The Crowdfunding Journal, where we publish even more stats, experiments, and research, and be sure to check out our project page on Kickstarter!

Biggest Kickstarter Surprises

in Crowdfunding Journal

This post is part of our online series Crowdfunding Journal which chronicles our open crowdfunding campaign.

Our first week is through, and with one-third of our funding, we’ve experienced a lot in the past week. There were a couple of big surprises along the way, which we will share with you here.

People can cancel or reduce their pledges

This freaked us out when we first saw it, because we had definitely did not know about this going into the campaign. Likewise, however, people can increase their pledges. In all, we’ve probably had 10 or so of our first 300 backers adjust their pledge.

You can change and add tiers during the campaign

There’s a limit to the madness, though – if a tier has been selected by at least one backer, all you can do is add a limit to it. That’s pretty big, though, especially if you need to get creative mid-campaign. You can also add tiers, which is something we’re looking at doing to try to entice some of our $5 backers. Finally, you can change everything about a tier that hasn’t been selected. We have one of these: the $5,555 tier. If we come up with a better Kickback, we could actually change this tier, and see if we can entice bigger backers.

Kickstarter’s campaign resources are very useful

Kickstarter provides project creators with plenty to do on the back end of their project. Your project dashboard has all kinds of basic statistic visualizations (we also supplement those with our own, which we will post about soon). If you’re debating which crowd-sourced funding platform to use, we give Kickstarter a huge plus for this.

We’ve gotten 25% funding from Kickstarter referrals

Despite what we’ve read, we have gotten a quarter of our funding from Kickstarter referrals (as opposed to external). Initially, it was close to 5%. As our project gained more momentum, it began to show up on the technology page, and even the discover page from time to time. It gets a huge amount of traction from these pages.

$35,000 is a lot of money

Going in to this campaign, we knew asking for $35k would be asking for a lot. It’s the smallest amount of money that could sustain our project, our development, and our team of two for half a year, so we knew we had to do it (to not shortchange our product).

We understood that we would basically need to “go viral” to be successful. Well, one week in, we we placed #3 on Hacker News, we had some of the “big dogs” on Twitter sharing our project with their 10, 20, 60 thousand followers, we’ve made an appearance in the New York Times in David Pogue’s article on Kickstarter, and now we’re starting to see blogs spread our screenshots and our message to their readership. I’d like to say we’ve “gone viral.” However, as I write this, we only have one third of our funding. This is huge to us, something worth celebrating, and we appreciate every penny that our backers have pledged to us in support. This came from huge swings in momentum. But we still have $23k and change to go. $35k is a lot of money.

Twitter is huge

After spending a day on the front page of Hacker News, word of our project hit the twittershpere is a big, big way. Neither Josh nor I had been big Twitter users beforehand. We were simply amazed at the support to come out of Twitter, and at how seriously investors and bloggers take you being tweeted by one of the Twitter heavy-weights. This amazed us. At one point in time, Twitter was the biggest source of funds to our project. Since, it has fallen to third or so, but it still puts up huge numbers, and a ton of conversation. We even had our first $1k backer come from Twitter (thanks again, you know who you are!).

If you’re starting a campaign, one of our top 3 pieces of advice: do not overlook Twitter. It could make or break your campaign.

Feature requests, comments, and messages, oh my!

It could be someone’s full-time job receiving and responding to all of the comments, feature requests, messages, tweets, and emails that we get. We wish we could respond to each and every person that reaches out to us, but we just haven’t been able to keep up. This was a big surprise – people care far more than whether or not they like your project and want to back you, they want to be a part of the process, they want to be up to speed. This is very cool, and we’ve really enjoyed the ride with our initial backers so far.