Innovation Blog

Startup Efficiency: Three Tips for Focusing…

On July 31st we launched our Alpine Hammock project on Kickstarter and we learned a lot in a short period of time.   This is not a story about a successful Kickstarter campaign; the future of our project remains to be seen.  Rather, this is a post about how we rapidly launched a Kickstarter campaign through 30 days of intensive prepping.  One could easily spend months analyzing every nook and cranny of how to run a successful campaign but its often time-consuming and unnecessary.  This post should help you cut through the fat and focus your time on whats important to your project.
1. Industry Specific Kickstarter Analysis
Our tactic was to target our research by looking at both successful and unsuccessful Kickstarter campaigns specific to the outdoor industry.  We were already very familiar with our competition on the market but largely unfamiliar with how outdoor gear products have done on Kickstarter.  We looked at 12 projects (like Kammok to the right) and created an Excel document with metrics like video length, most popular reward level, least popular reward level, funding asked, funding received, and numbers of backers, updates, Facebook likes and more.  This helped us to quickly get our minds around what our project page should look like in terms of the video, the description, the rewards, and the popularity without spending too much time doing research.
2.  Making a Video One Day and a Six-pack of Beer
Neither my partner nor I had much experience with making videos nor did we have the money to have it done professionally.  Early on we spent a lot of time trying to find fancy equipment and recruiting skilled film students to help us out but ultimately these efforts led us down dead ends and resulted in wasted time.  One friend suggested simply using an iPhone (the 4S shoots in HD).  We lured that friend in with a six-pack of beer and spent a day filming and editing.  While professional videos are certainly a plus, what really matters is your story.  Can you clearly articulate your project in ~2minutes explaining what it is, why its different, and why you need to be on Kickstarter?  If you can sell your story youll be successful whether or not you spend days or just hours working on your video.
3.  Media Outlets Follow the Social Media Rabbit Hole
Being huge gear nerds already, we had a pretty good handle on many of the major outdoor media websites.  However, we knew that there were hundreds of smaller gear sites that weve never heard about. So after a few hours of Internet searching we found almost 300 websites related to outdoor gear.  A really helpful method was to find the Friends section on many outdoor gear blogs.  This led to an almost endless chain of other blogs with links to other Friends.  We followed this rabbit hole until our eyes crossed and created another excel document which listed web links for their Twitter handles, Facebook pages, and email contact information.  After launching our project, this document made it incredibly easy to reach out to the media and weve seen an incredible amount of support so far as a result.
Launching (and running) a Kickstarter campaign is a tremendous amount of work, but we found that by targeting our research we saved a lot of time, energy and grief along the way.  Good luck in your Kickstarter endeavors and please feel free to email if you have any questions or comments.
The Alpine Hammock is a weatherproof one-man shelter that can be used in the outdoors both as a traditional hammock as well as a bivy sack.  Be sure to check them out on Facebook and Twitter!
Looking for more Kickstarter tips? MassChallenge 2012 Finalist Ministry of Supply has got more points for success (they raised over $400K!)

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