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Thinking of starting your own Crowdfunded project? Ask me anything!

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jmole:
Hey All,

I raised $50k on Kickstarter last year for a project called freeSoC.

I've been meaning to write a big blog post about the experience and the process, but still haven't managed to get around to it, so I figure a Q&A is the next best thing. It was the first time I'd done anything on this scale, as far as delivering real products to customers goes. I was late by about 3 months on delivery, but I naively assumed that it would only take me a month to get things together. Then, backers started requesting design changes, and I acquiesced. Anyway, it was a great experience, and I'd love to share any information you're interested in, so ask away!

amspire:
Congratulations! I have been thinking about a project that needs a micro + hard logic and I was seriously thinking about the Cypress PSoC 5. I will have to take a good look at your board.

If you were doing a new electronic design project, what work would you attempt to complete before starting the fund-raising?

Also do you think you can get the money if you are totally honest and conservative in your estimated delivery. In your case, if you had quoted, say, 4 months until the first deliveries, do you think you would have got the backers? Is quoting delivery based on the most optimistic assessment of the project a required part of the game in order to raise decent money?

EEVblog:

--- Quote from: amspire on May 10, 2013, 03:42:30 am ---Also do you think you can get the money if you are totally honest and conservative in your estimated delivery. In your case, if you had quoted, say, 4 months until the first deliveries, do you think you would have got the backers? Is quoting delivery based on the most optimistic assessment of the project a required part of the game in order to raise decent money?

--- End quote ---

That's a very interesting question!
I'd love to see some real studies on this sort of thing, do any exist?
Or is that sort of stuff covered in Marketing 101 class?

jmole:

--- Quote from: amspire on May 10, 2013, 03:42:30 am ---If you were doing a new electronic design project, what work would you attempt to complete before starting the fund-raising?

--- End quote ---

In terms of planning the reward structure and project costs:

* Prototype (obviously)
* Cost Estimates -- Pick some random quantity of boards you'd like to sell. Let's say 100. So get a complete BOM estimate, production estimate, assembly estimate, etc, for 110% of the quantities you're building.
* Packaging -- This means, go to uline.com, pick out your packaging materials, add to cart, and write down the total with shipping
* Shipping -- Are you going to ship this stuff yourself? For 100 orders, it's feasible. Above that, you're gonna be screwed unless you have some help.  I had ~600, so I used a fulfillment service called Shipwire.
* Shipping Costs -- For domestic, you can figure about $5, for a small product like mine. International, about $30.
* Total per unit costs -- Now add up all the totals above, divide by your number of units, and figure out what it will cost you.
* Markup -- Figure out what kind of markup you want on the product. This should be around 2.5X, at a minimum, or you will probably end up losing money. It's funny how fast unexpected costs can creep up.

Also, you're gonna need a bunch of copy for the Kickstarter page, a good video, yada yada. Don't underestimate these things. You've gotta pitch your product well. Emulate the most funded projects. Look at their videos and how they sell the idea, and do that for yours.


--- Quote from: amspire on May 10, 2013, 03:42:30 am ---Also do you think you can get the money if you are totally honest and conservative in your estimated delivery. In your case, if you had quoted, say, 4 months until the first deliveries, do you think you would have got the backers? Is quoting delivery based on the most optimistic assessment of the project a required part of the game in order to raise decent money?

--- End quote ---

This, I can't say for certain.

In my case, I don't think I had any real complaints that the ship date was so delayed. It was clear that I was iterating on the design, and making progress and that kept the confidence of my buyers.

I've backed a few other projects, and in a few, this has not been the case.

CruxSkunk, a laptop-type case for an iPad, has been seriously overdue (project finished about when mine started), and there are tons of people complaining about it. I couldn't care either way, because I can see that he's making progress and I will get it eventually.

Memoto, a lifelogging camera, had an estimated delivery date of March 2013, which has come and gone, but the creators have been very good about keeping us up to date, and I'm certain they will deliver a great project.

That said, I think time overruns are part of the game. It's pretty much expected by anyone who's not a first time kickstarter backer.

Now, will someone back a project if the delivery date is "realistic" (assuming that you can actually hit the mark)? I think so. Take a look at all the video game projects. Millions of dollars for a release date 1-2 years down the line. The key is to be honest. I honestly thought I would be able to deliver the product in a month. We had just finished a first run of 100, and I was ready to pull the trigger on the next 1000. Then the design change requests came.... Then I realized I could make a better board by listening to my backers. And they supported me through it. So be honest. If you have a great project, the good people of the internet will help you make it work.

jmole:
BTW, this is a great article to read if you're interested in why most Kickstarter projects are overdue:

Coding, Fast and Slow: Developers and the Psychology of Overconfidence

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