The Kickstarter Experience
So June was a crazy month, Matt was recovering from a nasty shoulder injury which required surgery, creating a mountain of work to get our new website and Kickstarter campaign ready…
We were at full capacity with Matt totally out of action for 10 days, we ended up launching our Kickstarter a week later than planned on 8th of June for a slightly reduced period of 25 days. Launching a project on Kickstarter is certainly not for everyone, it is not something you can just put live and hope people will come and look at your project and support your idea. In reality it is a fixed period of total madness and a full time job if you want to succeed. Whilst you can prepare as much as possible, design the perfect page and video it is not until you hit the “launch now” button on your project until you really understand what you’ve let yourself in for.
Crowdfunding is a bit misunderstood and we had a lot of educating to do, letting people know we weren’t giving away shares and didn’t want donations, every backer would be offered a reward in return for making a pledge to our project. For people getting involved early and trusting us to deliver a great product we would be offering discounts on the Neo jacket of up to 40% off.
We decided to use Kickstarter 12 months ago as a route for us to gain brand awareness and to pre-sell our Neo jacket at a reduced price to our early supporters. For us it was never about making money, but to allow us to order our Polartec NeoShell fabric and to get our jacket into production with our factory in Portugal. Both things come with minimum orders and a fairly hefty price tag for any new company to shell out in advance.
To ensure we could get as much awareness as possible we launched our film “Braving the elements” shot in Wales with World Cup racer Harry Molloy and Aspect Media, which gave us the perfect angle to talk to the cycling press about our project and what we’ve been working hard to try and achieve with Neo. During the most important first few days our project was well received and we were featured by the mjor Mountain Biking websites and publications; Singletrack, MBUK, MBR, Dirt, Enduro Magazine, Pinkbike amongst other European names.
It was great to see our company appearing everywhere on the internet and social media. Articles and photos of the Neo jacket were appearing on blog sites, local cycling forums, fashion blogs and Instagram accounts. All of a sudden the last 18 months of work to build our company from scratch and develop a dream product had become real. People were pledging for the Neo jacket from all over the world from Malaysia to Canada and everywhere in between.
We were excited, but like all new projects on Kickstarter we experienced the slow down, the lull in the middle, and despite all our best efforts to keep up our media and social presence there were moments of worry when we were sitting at 49% of our goal at just over the halfway mark. We did everything we should be doing to drum up more awareness, it was very tough, there were lots of stressful days but also massive highs and waking up to new backer alerts on the Kickstarter app gave us a positive start to the challenge we faced each day.
We were a little unfortunate that the middle two weeks of our campaign coincided with the best weather of the year, and trying to get people to buy a jacket for bad weather isn’t easy to do. Plus when the sun is shining everyone appears to be further from their phones and laptops which made getting backers at the crucial moment a big task.
It started to click and with 5 days to go, we were getting close, a couple of great days had allowed us to get to 80% and our goal was in sight.
As Kickstarter is an all or nothing model, we had to hit our goal or ask ourselves some serious questions as to why it hadn’t worked. With all projects there is always a rush of backers in the last 48 hours, and we were certain with the work we’d put in that we would get the extra pledges we needed to get us across the line.
Our final day arrived and it was manic from first thing in the morning, we had random backers buying jackets, this was the last chance to get involved in our project. We had loyal backers pushing the project to help us get there as we went through the final stretch, trying to help us gain the last 5% to reach our goal.
At 8.30pm with 90 minutes to go we hit the 100% mark, a feeling of utter elation and relief began to kick in, but we couldn’t relax yet. Whilst Kickstarter backers cannot pull out of a project in the last 24 hours, pledges can still be reduced to £1 as we found out with 5 hours to go and lost £200 off our number when someone had changed their mind. With this thought in the back of our heads and a potential to lose everything if one person pulled out, we pushed on and a stream of new and unknown pledges came in over the last hour to get us comfortably past our goal and into the safe zone. As we counting down the final seconds, there was a feeling of total relief, elation and excitement – and utter exhaustion.
We’d reached 103% of target, gained 150 backers and without the support and trust from all of them, we wouldn’t have got to where we are now. Once again, we’d like to thank each and every person who got involved, shared our project and all of the media outlets and bloggers who helped to spread the word.
Would we do Kickstarter again? I’m not sure. For brand awareness and helping us to get off the ground, we can look back and see it as a huge success. Only 46% of projects get 100% funding and most are under the $10k mark, we had raised $40k with a premium product and a pretty high price point that people would have to part with their hard earned cash and wait for for 5 months – with that in mind we were happy, but the stress and total madness of the whole thing would probably put us off doing it again!
Right now, its an amazing feeling to be in the position we’re in knowing that we are about to enter the manufacturing phase for our jacket. We’ve just returned from our factory visit to Portugal to get the final prototypes made, we are days away from ordering our Polartec NeoShell fabric and are already working on a range of cycling apparel for launch in Spring next year.
You can follow our progress via our mailing list, blog and social media sites and details of our Kickstarter project here.