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Learn from an unsuccessful Kickstarter campaign

Published by Salvador Briggman. Find him on Twitter.

This is a guest post by Anette Cantagallo.

anette cantagalloCrowdfunding is a great way to jumpstart a small business with big ambitions, and some projects succeed beyond the campaigner’s wildest dreams, but many others on platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo end up failing to reach their goal – just like ours did.

After two years of research and development with my co-founder and friend, Heidi, we were ready to take the plunge and see if the rest of the world felt the same way we did about our fashion startup, LÆNE SCANDINAVIA.

The plan was to launch our eco-tech label on Kickstarter and raise money for our first production run. The driving idea behind our campaign, “FLUX SEAMLESS”, was to offer a fashionable, high performance, and sustainable clothing line to the crowdfunding community at a steeply discounted rate of 50% off the retail price. We offered several different garments (tanks, t-shirts, and leggings) at varying reward levels.

The first day we launched, it was a surreal feeling – years of private, creative gestation was suddenly on very public display. While we didn’t reach our funding goal over a month later, we did come away with some key insights into crowdfunding, brand strategy, and social media:

Make sure your early adopters show up on time.

For us, the early adopters came too late to the party. We assumed that they would understand the formula of Kickstarter, but we had many conversations with friends and family about the merits of crowdfunding, not to mention the mechanics of Amazon payments.

Don’t rely on the press to spread the word.

We assumed that many media outlets would be excited to cover our concept + project, but we quickly learned that there is crowdfunding fatigue among some of the press out there. Instead, reach out to sympathetic bloggers and key influencers in your particular industry.

Listen to the naysayers symptomatically.

We all know it’s hard to take negative feedback, but sometimes it does contain some underlying truth. Early on in our campaign, we received an email from someone who bristled at the price of our garments. At first, we ignored it, but we soon realized that our price point was too high for a Kickstarter project. A few weeks in, we lowered it and got some more backers.

Don’t underestimate a 2 minute video.

Leading up the launch, Heidi + I worked around the clock with our closest friends and family: filming around the city, editing footage, sourcing music, designing the blog, and finding models for our photoshoot. It was exciting and stressful, as everyone believed in what we were doing and donating their time to make it happen, but it became an all-consuming part of our campaign to the detriment of other key ingredients like social media.

Keep it real simple.

Our clothing concept combines performance, sustainability, and technology. We thought our synergistic approach would bring lots of different communities to the table, but instead, we struggled to target and penetrate those niche segments of consumers. We learned that crowdfunding campaigns demand a singular idea that captures people’s attention quickly.

Social media bonds.

Prior to our Kickstarter campaign, we barely used Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest. In hindsight, we should have been building and engaging a following months before our launch. Once we dove in, we loved the ability to connect with other like-minded people who shared our company’s ethos.

We made connections with fashionistas, sports enthusiasts, eco-warriors, celebrities, and more. We also discovered that the best messages aren’t necessarily about your brand or campaign – sharing your sense of humor and interests, in our case, telling jokes about IKEA’s assembly concept, the nutritional benefits of blueberries, or daily musical inspiration was more likely to net us a follower than brazen self-promotion.

Still, our conclusion is that we lacked social capital – building or tapping into a community before you start is one of the most powerful indicators of crowdfunding success!

Even though our Kickstarter bottomed out, it opened our eyes to the fact that we needed to become more than just designers with a great product. The crowdfunding experience has certainly sharpened up our entrepreneurial skills.

Nothing is ever wasted if you choose to learn from it on your journey through life. And in the spirit of sustainability, you can always repurpose your own work. We recut our video footage, and now it is a much appreciated informational piece on the ABOUT page on our websiteYou can also see two testimonial videos below.

LÆNE SCANDINAVIA – Garment testimonial from LÆNE SCANDINAVIA on Vimeo.

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  • Shawn A. Allen

    “Still, our conclusion is that we lacked social capital – building or tapping into a community before you start is one of the most powerful indicators of crowdfunding success!”

    This seems to be all too true, as kickstarter often is not for things that need to find a community, but rather for things that have that community that just wants to throw money at your idea.

    • CrowdCrux

      “throw money at your idea” – Not sure I agree with that part, but it definitely is a powerful tool for companies or people that have an established fan-base. It’s a good way to avoid a major middle man (Label, Book publisher, Game publisher, etc).

  • it`s easier to make social media bonds if you work in a norrowed down area, like if you are a cook, or a real estate agent and if your campaign in related with what you do but with this article we have learned that it`s NOT enough at all.. anyway we found this article so useful and have just shared on our official heylo page (our campaign http://www.heylo.me): http://www.facebook.com/sayheylo and also naturally tweeted about it..

    • CrowdCrux

      Thank you!

  • Thank you so much for this article! I launched a campaign called Support youth financial
    education, that needed such insights. You can check the campaign here
    and give me some advice: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/support-youth-financial-education