Hacking Kickstarter, How We Did It

Hacking Kickstarter, How We Did It


Wow, we just finished the Kickstarter for Votsh WAVES. It was an incredible experience.

Crowd funding is now a permanent part of the process of new product development. Kickstarter is a good way to achieve crowd funding for your project. It’s advantages:

  1. Very low cost to crowd-fund your new project – costs less than 10% of your sales/pledges
  2. Easy to start a new Kickstarter project – took 3 weeks to launch our project
  3. An industry of people to help you get your project’s message right and market it

Each pledge our project received gave us instant confirmation that WAVES is on the right track. And, it delivered an uplifting emotional message reminiscent of the film “It’s A Wonderful Life” in which the George character is told: “Remember no man is a failure who has friends.”

While we did not achieve our goal the experience delivered huge results and I decided today to go ahead and manufacturer WAVES. The Kickstarter project accomplished the following:

  1. Proved people’s interest in having a WAVE on their desktop or in their house. We got great coverage in Gizmag, Techno Buffalo, and 6 others.
  2. Identified the price point needs to be below $80
  3. Identified the customer acquisition cost using social media. I spent $1,600 on Facebook to get 5,140 “Likes”. Those generated 11 purchases at $149 each. We estimate the same advertising spend at a $79 price point would generate 100 purchases. Customer acquisition cost is $16/unit.

If you only learn three things from our Kickstarter project, they would be:

  1. Tim Ferriss blog Hacking Kickstarter should be required reading for anyone considering crowd funding. We followed just about all of the articles how-to instructions, including the reverse photo search to find bloggers and using Zirtual virtual assistants. We used Ducksboard to build our performance dashboard.
  2. We needed more of a social media following to activate a viral effect in the pledging. As a valued advisor told me afterwards: “Consumer Electronics like WAVES is a really really tough space unless one can get a crowd funding to work. And those that have succeeded had 6 months of amazing publicity before launching. Really amazing publicity like the Coolest Cooler and Pebble Watch. Do the publicity and then relaunch and you will hit your target easily. There has to be real pent-up demand. Then put it on Amazon and promote it heavily. This is the path all crowd funded projects follow today.”
  3. Make the offer simple, very simple, to understand. Have a sub-$100 price point and 2 or 3 pledge award levels tops.

The WAVES project on Kickstarter achieved 40% of its goal at the half way mark.


Kicktraq.com statistics on the WAVES project

Without the pent-up publicity we ran out of gas.

  • 37 backers, 80% of the pledges are for the product purchase
  • Slow and even progress, day-by-day
  • Kickstarter itself generated 2 product sales, everything else from our efforts
  • 3,191 video views, 17.36% of plays completed, video is 4 minutes
  • Kickstarter video views: 838, Off-site video views: 2,353

The following are where we placed our bets to advertise WAVES:

We spent $3000 USD in advertising:

Facebook advertising
4,891 Page Likes for $1,667
Boosted 3 postings to 140,000 people, cost $800
Benefit: 25% of traffic to the Kickstarter page comes from Facebook: 4 people pledged $328 or 14% of pledged funds.

Bit.ly clicks to the Kickstarter page: Mid-week, with peak on Tuesdays
Facebook: 153, Twitter: 21, Google+: 4, Other: 225, Unknown: 445
75% USA, India 5%

https://marketyourcrowdfunding.com, MyGigs.com, Cost: $100. Benefit: Postings where I would think to post: Google+, FriendFeed, Screencast.com. Coaching via timed email messages for me to keep marketing Waves.

http://getmecrowdfunded.com, cost $650. Benefit: They write a high quality press release and get it published on 20-30 specialty news reporting sites, different from the large consumer and technology trend sites like CNet and Gizmag. Having these sites carrying links to Votsh helps our organic search results.

PRWeb to post our press release (http://www.votsh.com/press), cost $370, Benefit: 65895 impressions and 1457 reads (82% from news aggregators, 18% PRWeb.com). Good for organic search results.

Charles Mosteller from this forum gave me immediate feedback on our project image and positioning: “Your project image is terrible, but your project video is good”. I made changes the same day. Thank you Charles!

Joe Belsterling of CrowdCrux.com and moderator of KickstarterForum.org on October 6 commented: “Great product, and well done video! Super excited for this one to hit its goal!”

What we did NOT do well:

  • Immediate thank you message to people pledging, normally takes 4-5 days
  • Feedback on the pledge levels: too many levels, left people asking which to pledge
  • We left out of the video one of the most important features: Demonstrate the Bluetooth speaker capabilities

The reaction from people interested in our Kickstarter changed the way we think of WAVES. We are clearly in the Wireless Light-Up Speaker product category. And we have the following unique value proposition:

  1. WAVES play your music and streams music from the community
  2. WAVES connect to a community of light and sound show makers to craft, share, and play shows
  3. Full-Auto feature tells WAVES to check-in to your social media life and select songs and shows for you
  4. Like, share, skip, and ban music and shows from your WAVE

We did not know how to articulate the value proposition before going through the Kickstarter experience.

The whole team is excited about the future of WAVES. WAVES is wireless light-up speakers and a connected online community to encourage personalization and artistic expression. Please help us continue the excitement. Sign-up for our special announcement list. We will send you an announcement when WAVES is available to buy. Because you pledged we will make you part of our special “Founder” level in the WAVES online community. Use this form:

And, please tell us – in the comments section below – what we should be doing different and better to achieve the Kickstarter goal! You won’t hurt our feelings with tough feedback. We really want to know.

-Frank Cohen
CEO, Votsh Inc.