By Linda Franco (Co-Founder, MACHINA)
As an entrepreneur, crowdfunding is something you hear a lot about, but few take the plunge. After doing this twice I can understand why.
I’ve been through two different crowdfunding campaigns on two different platforms, with two different products. My first crowdfunding campaign was through Ideame, Latin America’s number one crowdfunding platform. Last September we raised over $30,000 USD with our Cyclist Back Pack, a backpack designed to increase cyclist’s safety through embedded LED panels. At the time, we were the platform’s most successful project.
I just ended my second crowdfunding campaign via Kickstarter. For the last year, my team and I have poured our lives into a new project called The Midi Controller Jacket. Last month, the MACHINA MIDI Controller Jacket raised a total of $77,002 USD! We were covered by CNN, The Next Web, Synthtopia, Design Boom and we got some celebrity tweets, as well as support from the community and millions of media impressions. I’m both exhausted and totally inspired at the same time.
Both campaigns mean so much to me because, as I mentioned on the “Emerging Markets in LATAM” Women 2.0 Panel last month, living in a country where nobody knows what crowdfunding is made us work twice as hard to let people know what we were doing. Crowdfunding in LATAM requires as much physical labor as virtual labor: We had to hold events, walk people through the process, contact many of them personally, and convince them of the tangibility of our products.
In the end, MACHINA has been the Mexican startup to raise the most money on Kickstarter. This proves anything is possible if you make it happen, but you must have these eight things if you want your crowdfunding campaign to be a success:
You can’t just upload something you don’t know anything about. Most successful campaigns have months of work behind them.
Before launching, prepare a press kit directed to your target market. In our case for the cyclist pack, we contacted sports media and cyclist communities; the Midi Jacket was targeted at musicians, so we went after both technology and music media. It is very important to have this ready, as most of the media we got came because we got one good article and others picked up on it.
Plans B, C, D, E and F
You can’t be over-confident about your launch or product. When you are about to launch, it will take forever to click the ENTER button to launch your idea! And once you do, you think you know how to spread the word and successfully crowdfund, but you don’t. Start with plan A. If it doesn’t work, have a plan B. If it works but then there is a stop in the campaign, go to plan C and so on. Never give up.
Family, Friends and Community
A little more than 50% of the money came from our family, friends and community.
The Right Number
The thing about crowdfunding is you can’t just put any number you like just because it sounds good. You have to pick a number which will lower your production costs, allow you to produce all of the rewards you mention and have a little left over for the future of the project. Choose carefully.
An Appreciation of Every Dollar
If you are in college and you are in a classroom with 30 other students, imagine each student donating $1 dollar. Every dollar counts you just have to reach out to people.
Create good content. Become a ‘thought leader.’ Engage your customers and followers. Start blogging and tweeting and you’ll generally be quoted, shared on social networks, and respected in your industry in no time.
You need to enjoy the ride!
About the guest blogger: Linda Franco is the co-founder of MACHINA, a wearable technology fashion brand. Linda studied marketing and strategic design in Centro University in Mexico City. She co-founded The Gyzu Experiment, a web design and development firm, and Plan de Escape, a project where male inmates in a prison for violent crimes where taught about fashion, marketing, and trends. The project culminated in a fashion brand owned by the inmates that can be used as a path to rehabilitation when they leave prison. Follow her on Twitter at @LindaLFranco.