We recently launched a new product, Tooder: Smart Flashcards for Curious Kids, on Kickstarter. Forbes wrote a nice introduction to the project here. After a few weeks on the platform, we realized we wouldn't hit our goal and strove to understand more.
Tooder exists at the intersection of technology and education, and we thought this type of project had the potential to strike a chord on Kickstarter, and, if we were lucky, we could building a community around the idea.
Here are three takeaways from our experience:
1. Algorithms: Algorithms rule the day. Before we launched, we thought that the Kickstarter community was about humans, not algorithms. Years ago, we launched another Kickstarter project, and felt like a lot more eyeballs landed on our campaign organically. Of course, much of this is anecdotal, but the point remains: you need to drive traffic to your campaign from your network (and other networks) to jumpstart the algorithmic love.
2. Marketing: There's a lot of noise on the internet. We somehow thought that Kickstarter was going to be different, that this community would cut through the noise that we experience elsewhere. We thought our product would be seen by audiences other than our own. Instead, we quickly learned that there's an entire industry built up around Kickstarter. Ad companies solicit work in exchange for running social campaigns to generate conversions, targeting audiences that are more likely to contribute to your project based on demographics, interests, etc.
3. Familiarity: One of our biggest surprises with Kickstarter was how unfamiliar our audience was with the platform. It's something we didn't anticipate, but should have foreseen. Over the course of the campaign, we received multiple emails from our customers saying one of two things. One, what is Kickstarter? Can it be trusted? Two, how can I contribute? I can't figure out how to sign up!
We were so focused on getting the project off the ground - focusing on branding, product details, tech interactions, and most importantly, the educational import - that we really didn't take the time to consider the implications of launching on Kickstarter.
Quite frankly, we didn't do our homework.
Of course, there's the very real scenario, and this is something that we have discussed, that this product doesn't serve a real function in the world. That it doesn't meet a need. However, given the incredible feedback we've received, our extensive product market research and positive user testing, we tend to believe it's much more about something else.
We hope these tips are helpful. We don't share these insights out of spite. Kickstarter is a wonderful place, with wonderful people, we were just surprised by how the platform had changed since the last time we ran a campaign.