Crowdsourced Funding: How to ask for $75K but get $1.5million

Casey Hopkins asked people to fund his new project to make a better dock for the iPhone. He wanted $75,000 he got $1.5 million. Kickstarter kicks ass. But how does one do that? How does one build a community that will give money to a project? Do you just stick it up on Kickstarter and…

Casey Hopkins asked people to fund his new project to make a better dock for the iPhone. He wanted $75,000 he got $1.5 million. Kickstarter kicks ass. But how does one do that? How does one build a community that will give money to a project? Do you just stick it up on Kickstarter and hope for the best? Here are some steps to look at.


Understand the opportunities

Kickstarter is an online community where you put up your project that you need funding, in this case to make a new dock for the iPhone. The community then decides to put money in, if the project is worth it. Kickstarter won’t do this magically, any more than YouTube will magically turn you into a karaoke star. You have to maximise the opportunities that Kickstarter offers you and understand the risks. Diving straight for the gold is just going to get you ignored or worse, kicked out of the community.

Identifying and working with Influencers

John Gruber, a top blogger & podcaster,  was watching Kickstarter and blogged the project in the first hour or so,

then it reached$25,000 in 2 hours and then… on December 14th Casey wrote:

It must be some type of record to hit $75,000 in 8 hours 14 minutes from 815 backers. I owe it all to you early backers for the support.

In fact Casey wrote:

A special big thanks to my good friend Aviv Hadar at ThinkBrilliant for sending out the word early to John Gruber, who crashed our image server and got the ball rolling with his post on DF. If anyone has a contact at Engadget, Gizmodo, TechCrunch, Ars, etc – I think this is a story their readers might like.

It drives me nuts how many of my clients are terrified of bloggers and twitterers and do everything in social media (blog, Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr) except work with influencers. Nuts.

Tip: Make a list of bloggers and twitterers. Monitor them. Then engage with them. Before you need them. Because you like them, respect them and really want to be connected to them. Before you need them. This is not media business as usual.

Broadcast time is instant, Social media time is slower

$25k in 2 hours is amazing. Amazing. But social media works best in the long tail. From December 14th on, Casey kept earning money. It would’ve looked like a J-Curve.

Traditional vs Social Media timelines

Interesting that there was a large take up in the beginning, that’s the core influencer network at work, then it spreads (ripples) into the other networks and turns into a massive J-Curve.

Tip: Get your influencers in early to get the early lift, then follow up with trickling through social networks to keep the momentum up.  Keep reading for more up tips 😉

Genuine – genuine nice and genuine gratitude

Thanking everyone. There was a thankyou in just about every update Casey put out. That’s a genuine, from the heart, honest and transparent emotion. It’s not an Academy Award thankyou.

 Media counted for nothing

Public relations people create a social media campaign and then rush to the Press with it. Which will backfire because usually it’s then greeted with a deafening silence in the blogosphere, if not mild disdain. When Harry Potter World was released, the Public Relations Director said that they knew they had to engage bloggers first, before journalists, and flew in 7 community managers to view the rides first. That way, they didn’t annoy the millions of Harry Potter fans on the forums by letting them find out first in normal newspapers. The community managers broke the news to the fans, not the newspapers.


We have received glowing reviews from Wired, Gizmodo, Cult of Mac, Uncrate, GigaOM, Electronista, and many more. Its a surreal feeling to see your product in the blogs you read everyday.

And its been shared around the world by thousands of people of Facebook and Twitter. The Twitter stream for “Elevation Dock” has been cool to watch.

But it is still crickets in the mainstream press… If anyone knows a journalist, we would be happy if you forwarded them a link to our project. Like “Hey David Pogue, feast you eyes on this hunk of metal that is the fastest growing crowd funded product in history.”

And they can get in touch directly: (from Kickstarter page again)

I asked on Twitter this morning if Mainstream Media in Australia was covering the story. Silence. If it bleeds it Leads, but only in the Olde Media Worlde,  not in the Real Media World. Good news stories do well in real life. By the way, I just found one on Sydney Morning Herald by David Pogue which is a copy and paste of the New York Times article.  An ad would not have had this impact.

Tricky, don’t engage traditional media, engage community media first  – but even when the story is breaking in communities, traditional media still don’t come on board. What is the role of Heritage Media again?

If media count for nothing then …

Community is Everything

The founder of kickstarter said

He also points out that backing a project gives you bragging rights. “You’re not just buying the thing, you’re creating it. You’re in on the ground floor. Getting a bird’s-eye view of how it’s made is exciting.” NY Times

I would like to add something: even if I had all the money I needed for a project that needs an audience, customers, community later on, I would still use Kickstarter. If I ran a billion dollar company, I would still put small projects up for $25,000. Why? So that people had a say. So I could trial the idea with the community. So I could get a list of people who might actually give a sh!t about my products, brands and services. Instead of paying for a focus group, I’d get money from them. What can I say? I’m part Scottish… 😛

So even if you have investors, Angels and Venture Capitalists lined up. Even if the bank has got it’s hands under your skirt and is making the right noises, you should still court Kickstarter. Who knows, you might end up with 1.5 million dollars towards your project. Or something even more valuable – 12 and half thousand people that believed in you enough not to just vote on your project but to put up real cash and then to forward it to friends on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites. And that’s gotta leave you feeling rich…

There are a bunch of other things – practical business steps e.g. offering a product to the community first

We know one thing for certain – that we would not sell a single Dock to anyone before every backer got theirs. This project would never see the light of day without you.

and crowdsourcing technology solutions, not just the money that helped. What else did you notice? Have a read and let me know.

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