So, we are into our last week before we launch our crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.com. Turns out that, if you want to do it right, preparing a crowdfunding campaign is a lot of hard work and I don't think you will ever feel like you are 100% ready to launch. So we are just going to do it! It has been an incredible journey getting everything ready and we thought we would share some of that experience with you.
We are launching our campaign to pre-finance production costs of our first ever major international product shipment and to be able to pay for several business expansion plans. Initially, we applied for grants from donors but soon realized, that crowdfunding is the more effective way to reach our goals and grow as a business.
When crowdfunding, you are actually funding your project through selling your products and services. So, apart from raising money, crowdfunding is an amazing marketing tool. It forces you to fully develop your business model, products, supply chains and branding (website, videos, photography, pitch text etc.) by a specific date. But even the most amazing campaign is only as good as the amount of publicity it is able to generate. So when crowdfunding, you actually then need to establish networks of backers and followers of your campaign and develop a media outreach strategy with the hope of getting published in a blog, magazine or newspaper. Otherwise, how are people even going to know about your campaign?
Over the last four months, we have been preparing many big things like developing a catchy pitch text and video, making sure our handwoven Iringa baskets and bags will be ready on time, developing our supply chain to ship products to backers (sea freight, fulfillment company in Germany etc.) developing media contact lists and writing a press release. Each of these 'big tasks' has so many things that can get in the way and there are so many details we had to think about, like:
- which crowdfunding platform actually to use (fees, 'all or nothing' vs. 'keep what you raise'
model, and why is it not possible to add images to perks on any of the big providers?)?
- which perks do we want to offer and what should they actually cost? We'll need product
pictures for that, where can we find a nice bathroom to photograph our laundry basket?)
- why is the tailor making shoes for another customer instead of attaching handles to our tote
- where can we get large enough boxes and pallets for shipping in a container?
- our house is overflowing with baskets and boxes, where can we still put them? And how can we
stop our foster cats from climbing around on them?
- I think the boxes we bought might not hold the weight of the products? Also, the quoted max.
weight for 2 pallets is 300kgs, we have 360kgs...?
- how do we write our press release headline so that journalists even open our email and how do
you even send your press release (as an attachment or plain text, .pdf or .doc, each personal or
make it one bcc mass email)?
- do you contact media only once the campaign started or do you contact them before so they
have time to prepare (but then they won't be able to see the campaign)?
- there is way too much text in the pitch! Take it all out and visualize, visualize, visualize... but
don't make it too colourful and make the design all nice and flat, no frames or shadows
AND WHAT if it rains during the three days we want to shoot our crowdfunding video in the communities?
So, having gone through all these steps and having been forced to think through all these different aspects of the campaign means that by the time we launch next week, we will have already grown immensely as a business, even before we sell our first perk!
Crowdfunding really is an incredible tool to raise funds, boost your marketing and establish your business. We can highly recommend it to startups which like us, want to take their business to the next level.