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Finding the right platform
Product Funder - I started with this one, a very small start up platform. I had put 20-30 hours into crafting the language, images and structure of the campaign into a compelling story. I later found out that Product Funder, at the time, wasn't going to be supported for awhile and wasn't the best option for the WO Bone campaign at that time.
Kickstarter - luckily, I was able to use most of the language and images I had crafted for Product Funder and transfer them over to Kickstarter. Kickstarter is the "big daddy" of crowd funding platforms, with hundreds of thousands of people crawling their site daily, looking at all of the new ideas. Unfortunately, Kickstarter rejected my WO Bone campaign for 3 reasons.
- They don't allow charitable giving to be affiliated with a project for fear that people would get duped into supporting a project that supposedly "gave back" in some way, only to see the person run off with the money.
- They don't allow for sales to retailers, at a wholesale price. Kickstarter only allows "1 off" sales of single products to the end user. Part of the mission of WO Design is to support local, independent retailers (because that is who we are, as founders of WO Design) and Kickstarter didn't allow for that.
- Kickstarter doesn't allow prototypes. They make you product the parts first, if you are going to be a manufacturer. But, they'll let you pre-sell record albums without having recorded the album yet. Weird, in my opinion, but that was their stance on the WO Bone.
Overcoming the "unknown" around a crowd funding campaign
- This challenging and unexpected. Even though crowd funding is growing exponentially in popularity and reach, it's still relatively unknown ... especially in older age demographics, which represent a large portion of the folks that buy nice toys for their dog. We had to do A LOT of personal phone calls, meetings and emails to explain that crowd funding was not some type of "Ponzi scheme" and that it was actually a legitimate, common way to start a business.
Getting from "wow that is so cool" to "wow that is so cool that I'll pre-buy one and I'll tell my friends/family, even if I don't have dog".
- There was a lof very positive comments around the WO Bone. People generally were very impressed with the intersection of business, faith and social 'good works' ... that's probably my favorite part of the whole project too. But, it was very hard to conveigh the "weight" of not funding the campaign without being pushy and annoying to friends and family? How were we supposed to lovingly ask for people to support us, have them not receive anything in return for a few months, and tell them that if they don't fund it, then it most likely won't happen and no kids in Ethiopia get help? It's a hard line to toe, and one that I don't think I did very well. Nonetheless, we are doing it and moving forward ...
More challenges and successes (including, finding a balance between work and family) coming in Pt. 2.