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5 Lessons From Saent’s Crowdfunding Campaign

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Indiegogo logoOn July 7, we launched our crowdfunding campaign to raise $100,000 for Saent, the world’s first hardware/software product designed to block distractions and help people be more productive. Before we pressed publish on our Indiegogo page, we put our entire campaign strategy on Medium. We then rode a 30-day rollercoaster and decided last week to stay put for another round. Here are 5 things we’ve learned so far, as well as an exclusive offer for you at the bottom of the article.

Running a crowdfunding campaign is an exhilarating experience. It’s both thrilling and exhausting. One moment you don’t clock in any new funding for 24 hours (exhausting), the next you see your brainchild on Fast Company, Quartz and CityLab (exhilarating). This cycle of ups and downs takes some getting used to.

The first few days I could barely sleep, like an excited child the day before his birthday. Then, as we were passing over a “plateau” phase, I went through stages of denial where I’d prefer not to look at the counter at all. Now I’m happy with what we have achieved so far ($35k+ in pre-orders for a brand new product) and pretty confident we’ll make it to our revised goal of $50k in the coming weeks.

Such an intense experience ensures you learn fast. While by no means would I call myself a crowdfunding expert, I do have some recommendations based on our experience for anyone considering to embark on a similar adventure.

  1. Influencers are nicer and more helpful than you might think

While it might seem scary at first, getting endorsements from key influencers in our product segment turned out to be much easier than I had anticipated.

I sent a “cold” (no introduction) email to Nir Eyal, best-selling author of Hooked. After trading a few messages, he not only went ahead and purchased a product, he gave us this amazing endorsement:Tim Metz

“Having written a book on what makes technology habit-forming, I believe technology is becoming harder to resist. Saent is a step forward — helping us regain control so we can be more productive. I’m a proud Saent supporter.”

Something similar happened with Mike Vardy, the guy behind the well-known productivity blog Productivityist. After receiving an mail from me, he purchased a product, invited me on his show and recommended all his listeners to order a Saent as well.

While it might seem scary to reach out to authorities in your field, it’s definitely worth it; they could prove much more willing to help you than you’d expect.

  1. Don’t underestimate the power of Product Hunt

We found out 24 hours before launch that Product Hunt has become much stricter about featuring crowdfunding campaigns. As an essential part of our launch strategy, this was quite a setback. Just how much of a setback we would only realise a few weeks later…

After reaching out directly to Product Hunt, they agreed to set up a listing for Saent if we put together a special offer for their community. This required a custom landing page, payment integration of that page with Indiegogo and a bunch of other technical stuff. By the time all of that was developed, tested and working correctly, several weeks had passed. We finally launched on Product Hunt on Monday the 27th of July. Then this happened:Campaign activity

The spike at the beginning reflects our original email to people who had signed up for our pre-launch list (as well as a small amount of launch week press in Mashable, Newsweek and Supercompressr). The campaign then clearly falls flat until Product Hunt launches our special offer. Not only did the Product Hunt community like our offer, we saw renewed interest from the press, which drove further orders.

Until this happened, I didn’t realize just how bad missing out on the Product Hunt effect at launch actually was. Had this momentum been added right at the start as originally planned, it’s not unlikely we would have ridden a steady wave towards our $100k goal.

  1. Lower your goal

Though I’m very happy with Indiegogo, you do get forced into one devilish choice prior to launch regarding your funding:

  1. Fixed funding: reach your minimum funding goal, or else everyone gets their money back.
  2. Flexible funding: you receive the money from your supporters, even if you don’t make your target goal.

What’s the dilemma you might think? Option 1, fixed funding, only supports payments through Paypal, while option 2*, flexible funding, also supports normal credit card transactions through Stripe. While this might seems like a subtle difference, the checkout and payment experience can influence conversion rates. We therefore opted for option 2, even though we would normally have gone for option 1 (seems more fair to our supporters).

Now here’s the real issue: since we had to go for flexible funding anyway, we might as well have lowered our goal from $100k to $50k immediately. Perception is everything and this would have meant we would have made double the “progress” towards our goal, which influences conversion and public perception (people are more likely to back a project which is closer to reaching its goal, according to our Indiegogo campaign strategist). Since we had decided on our $100k goal a long-time ago, this somehow didn’t cross my mind until after we had launched.

* Further, Indiegogo somewhat paradoxically takes a larger cut of your campaign’s proceeds if you choose flexible funding but fail to reach your goal.

  1. Download your LinkedIn contacts (but don’t mail them from your own domain)

This is probably one of the best and easiest growth hacks I’ve ever come across: The 5-Minute Linkedin Growth Hack. It explains how you can download the contact details (incl. most email addresses) of all your LinkedIn contacts into a CSV-file.

While bordering on spam, your contacts have connected with you on LinkedIn and it’s up to them to turn on or off whether they want to share their email addresses with others. Usually you also know people whom you connect with, so sending them one email about your new product or company isn’t such a bad thing to do.

One word of warning though: some people will definitely hit the spam / junk button on your mail. Therefore it might be a good idea to use an alternative domain to send from instead of your primary domain (e.g. saent.co instead of saent.com). We suddenly found a lot more of our regular mails end up in spam boxes after we did our promotional LinkedIn mail-out.

Bonus tip: LinkedIn Groups did nothing for us. We had the owner of several groups, totaling over 300,000 members (!), post something about our launch and got perhaps two or three purchases (I’m not even going to begin calculating what conversion rate that is!).

  1. Stop checking that counter!

This is almost impossible advice, but once you’re in a campaign yourself, you’ll realize the counter on your crowdfunding page can drive you crazy. It’s extremely tempting to constantly refresh. Sometimes it’s great (every refresh adds dollars), but it can also be demotivating when you hit a dry spell and see nothing happening for hours in a row.

Similarly, you might want to consider not registering the campaign on your personal email address. I’m currently getting an email for every contribution to our campaign, which triggers a similar hit-refresh-game in my mailbox.

Bonus tip: once you get our product, you can simply mark your campaign page as “unproductive” and only be allowed to see it when you’re not in a focused work session. 😉

SPECIAL OFFER

I’m excited to offer a special deal for all Economic Times readers! When you order your Saent on http://getsaent.com, you’ll recieve an additional 12 months of free Premium software (on top of the normal 12 months). That’s a ~$60 value! All you need to do is purchase the $39 perk and select “India” as your shipping country. (This will ensure you get the 24 months of premium deal.)

This offer will be valid from today until Wednesday the 19th of August.

Are you next?

I’d love to hear from anyone who’s planning a campaign or has done one and whether the above resonates with you. And, of course, we can use all the support we can get for our own campaign, so check it out and show some love at http://getsaent.com.

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  • There is 1 comment


    • 2 years ago

      Hrucha Mehta   /   Reply

      Very informative article for people who want to crowdfund their projects.

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