Capture Camera Clip System: The perfect mix of product and passion.

Capture Camera Clip System: The perfect mix of product and passion.
In May of 2011 Peter Dering launched a wildly successful design project to being production on his Capture Clip System. In this interview we talk about how a single tweet from someone on twitter sent his project skyrocketing.

More then just a cool product, Peter’s project shows us what happens when someone who loves what they are doing shares their idea with the world. He put in A LOT of up front work but it all paid off in the end.


StreetXSW: My biggest entrepreneurial failure…

StreetXSW: Capturing the moments you missedA Year ago today I launched my third Kickstarter project called StreetXSW, which turned out to be my biggest entrepreneurial failure. The project was to create a photo book by shooting the SXSW festival in Austin TX in the street photography genre. I wanted to highlight all the cool stuff we miss while plugged into our devices.

I had worked for months on my photography, the video, and getting the project page setup. I wrote and rewrote the script countless times. I shot the video at least three different times. I knew how important a great story would be to my project, so I poured everything I had into making the best video possible.

Excitedly I launched the project and then… nothing happened. No one bought the book, a few people shared the project, but it wasn’t enough to get any meaningful traction. It got picked by the Kickstarter staff, as a featured photography project, but that still did not help.

After a few days, and some negative feedback I realized the project was broken. I could have promoted the hell out of it, but in the end it wasn’t going to do what I wanted. So with a heavy heart I canceled the project I had spent months working on.

After you’ve done your best

For the next few days I beat myself up , thinking about how badly I had failed, and how all my work had been for nothing. Then I read this from Seth Godin:

Successful people analytically figure out what didn’t work and redefine what their best work will be in the future. And then they get back to work.

I realized that I needed to get back to work and see the project there, even if I wouldn’t be able to do my project as envisioned. With the help of Jerry Hirsch and Robert Ortiz I went to SXSW and got some amazing photos.

I’ve been sitting on the photos for a year because I wasn’t sure what to do with them. I thought about creating a video with the photos, I thought about prototyping my photo book, I even thought about tossing them all because they were a bitter reminder of my own stupidity. However, as I’ve reflected on the past year, and everything that happened because of my failure, I thought this might be an opportunity to remind people that failure isn’t that bad after all.

The Consequence Of Failure

The most interesting aspect about this project has been all of the stuff that has happened after it failed. As a result of preparing for the project, I was able to raise my photography to a new level. In August I wrote a post called Studying failure: What I learned from a Kickstarter project that failed… badly which talked about what I learned from the Kickstarter campaign. It has been viewed over 3,500 times and has helped people avoid the mistakes I made. The connections and the response I got because of sharing my failure so openly made the entire experience more than worth it.

All of this is great but in the days after I canceled the project, the only thing I could think about was how badly I had messed up. However, over the past year I came to realize one very important thing.

Our failures do not make us a failure.

 

Whenever a something doesn’t work out, or when we are scared it might not work out, we create all this anxiety and stress about being labeled as a failure. I think we need to give ourselves permission to let go of our negative feelings, and to realize that failure is not the end of the world.

So in celebration of my biggest entrepreneurial failure, here are the pictures I took last year at SXSW.

Click to see more

 

Click to see more

 

PS

I’m thinking of doing a project related to letting go of our fear of failure but only if there is enough interest. If this post spoke to you, or you know someone that is having a hard time dealing with failure, leave your name and email and I’ll contact you soon. http://eepurl.com/uL7AL

The misperception of crowd-sourced funding and the reality of Kickstarter.

We often hear stories of someone posting a creative project online. Then hundreds or thousands of people come rushing to them and it takes off. It seems so simple. Come up with a brilliant idea and the Internet will take over to make our dreams come true.

Somewhere deep down inside we know there is more to it than that. There must be some explanation as to why their idea took off. We’re just not sure what it is. We launch our own project, hoping the masses will show up, but they never do. We are left feeling disappointed and full of doubt. Why not me? Was my idea not good enough?

The truth is that there is a lot of work that goes into a project before it will take off. Simply posting an idea online is rarely enough to get meaningful traction.

In the fall of 2010 I posted my first Kickstarter project for a documentary film that I wanted to make with a friend of mine. Our project finished just two days before the launch of the TikTok Multi-Touch Watch. TikTok went on to raise $942,578 set a new record for amount raised via crowd funding. It was the first time people started to realize the true potential of Kickstarter.

TikTok held the record for over a year until the Elevation Dock and Double Fine Adventure broke the $1,000,000 funding mark. After that it seemed like every week I was hearing about projects raising hundreds of thousands of dollars. By the time the Pebble: E-Paper Watch had set a new record at $10,000,000, I had run three different projects of varying size and results. Throughout my three projects I had yet to experience anything like what I was reading about. In fact my campaigns had been much different.


My three experiences

During the campaign for Identifying Nelson/Buscando A Roberto we raised $15,212 from 170 people, the majority of which were family and friends. Not exactly a crowd but it was my first project. After that, I ran a campaign to create A Kickstarter’s Guide to Kickstarter. This ended up being 150% over funded and raised $1,303 from 104 backers. Definitely a great success but still this mythical “crowd” had not shown its face. Granted, the guide was a small project so that could be one reason why the masses didn’t flock to it. Then in February I ran a campaign for StreetXSW: Capturing The Moments You Missed. It was an attempt to create a project that would go beyond my family and friends and attract a larger crowd. Despite all my hard work the campaign flopped and I end up canceling the project a week in.

I started to wonder why none of my projects caught on like the ones I was reading about. Were my ideas not good enough? The projects in the news were pretty damn cool but I didn’t feel like my mine were unworthy of more attention. After all, my documentary film was about how I had been separated from my birth family during El Salvador’s civil war and then was reunited with them when I was 16.

The story involves revolutionaries, kidnappings, government cover ups, loss, regret, and redemption. It’s one of those larger than life true stories that you can’t make up. If anything had the legs to go big wasn’t this it? Now, I am in no way suggesting that I deserve or that our film deserves that kind of attention. I’m just trying to say, that even an incredible story like mine doesn’t necessarily catch on with the crowd.

I probably would have felt like a complete failure had something not happened, which started to shift my perception of crowd funding.


The first 10,000

On June 19th, 2011 Kickstarter posted 10,000 Successful Projects, which highlighted how far the service had come in two years. Along with the post was this video which featured a screen shot of all 10,000 successful projects.

I went looking for my project. It was a bit tough because the pictures went by so fast but I realized that the projects were being displayed by amount raised. Great! I thought, I’ll just click a head until get into the ball park and then I can slow it down. I clicked about half way through the video to where I thought my project should be but the projects at that point had only raised a couple thousand dollars. I thought it was a little weird but I kept clicking.

To my amazement I was 2/3 of the way though and still no where near the amount of money I had raised. It wasn’t until I got to 5 minutes and 9 seconds, out of the 5:33s video, that I started to get close. I finally found our project at the 5:11s and thats when it hit me. Identifying Nelson was one of the most funded projects on the site! Doing some quick back of the napkin calculations I estimated that we were in the top 10% of projects funded. I’m sure this is no longer true but at the time it was a big shock. That was when my perception of crowd funding started to change.

Over the past couple months, some new information about Kickstarter has come out that has furthered my belief that our perception of Kickstarter as we read about it is much different from the reality of what most people experience.


What I learned 


The “crowd” is actually a lot smaller than you might think

Recently, Kickstarter released a new statistics page that gives us some insights into what is happening behind the scenes. One of the most interesting statistics was that only 2,200 out of the 28,600 projects launched have raised more than $20,000. Of those only 251 have raised over $100,000. That means roughly 92% of all projects launched on Kickstarter have raised under $20,000!

Again I was surprised by how few projects ended up raising large amounts of money. I’ve done enough research to know that is easier to get funding for smaller goals but I didn’t expect the number of “high end” projects to be so low. If you’ve been following crowdsourced funding in the news you may get the perception that there are a lot of large projects bringing in well over $100,000. Turns out that’s not the case at all.

I think part of the misperception lies in the name. The words crowd-funding or crowd-sourced funding represent the idea of a project raising tens of thousands of dollars from thousands of backers. Partly because the definition of the word “crowd” means a large group of people. However, if our perceptions of the amount of money being raised is off, could we be wrong about the number of people backing a project as well?

On a side note: What is this mythical crowd anyway? Is it made up of people living in some corner of cyber space with credit cards at the ready, waiting for someone to launch a project? As great as that sounds I doubt thats the case.

One way of figuring how many people make up the crowd is by looking at the average pledge amount on Kickstarter. According to Kickstarter the average pledge amount is $70. This means that a project with the goal of $10,000 should be funded by roughly 142 people. Right away this is interesting, because the number of backers is a lot lower than we might expect. Using the $70 average pledge as a benchmark we can estimate that 92% of all projects on Kickstarter are funded by less than 300 people. Not exactly a crowd…


The number of friends you have matters

I have a theory that the average Kickstarter project is primarily funded by a small number of 1st degree connections, not a large group of anonymous strangers. This is something I experienced in Identifying Nelson. Less than $1000 of our $15,000 came from 2nd degree connections. People who had never personally met John or or myself before.  My theory has to do with something called Dunbar’s number. You might be familiar with it but if your aren’t here is a refresher.

Robin Dunbar is a British anthropologist that suggested humans have a limit to the number of social relationships they can maintain. While there was no exact number that was proposed by Dunbar, it said to be between 100 and 230 people, with the most common number being 150 people. Does that number look familiar? It’s roughly the same amount of people that it takes fund a project of $10,000. If humans are limited to roughly 150 social connections, I’m willing to bet those connections are somewhat meaning. I’m also willing to bet that the people who make up those meaningful connections would be willing to pitch in $70 to help a friend. It happens all the time with charity walks and bake sales, why should Kickstarter be any different?

I recently came across an article entitled, The Untold Story Behind Kickstarter Stats, that seams to support my theory. In this post Jamie from appsblogger.com teamed up with Prof. Ethan Malik of The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania to dig deeper into Kickstarter statistics. Prof. Malik found that the number of Facebook friends you had mattered:

For that $10K project, holding everything else constant, if you had 10 Facebook friends, you would only have a 9% chance of succeeding. If you had 100 Facebook friends, your chance jumps to 20%. And if you have 1,000 Facebook friends? Your chance of succeeding is now 40%.

Facebook allows us to extend the reach of our campaign to people who care about us but might not be in our, day to days lives. Not all of those friends will chip into our campaign but some will share it and pass it along to friends who will back it. The larger the group of people you have to draw from the easier it is to find the group of people that care enough to help you out.

In A Kickstarter’s Guide to Kickstarter I argue that projects are funded by a specific audience or group of people. Most of us do not have “fans” but we do have family and friends. I think your family and friends acts as a kind of build-in audience. The mistake we make is thinking that our project has to the strength to go beyond our family and friends. In my experience creating something that resonates with a people beyond family and friends is a lot harder than you think.

Part of the challenge is that it just takes a long time to understand what gets people excited and how to communicate your ideas in a meaningful way. If you look at the most successful projects on Kickstarter they are done by established artists, entrepreneurs or skilled individuals with proven track records.


The reality of Kickstarter is much different than what we read and that’s OK!

I think what we are presented with here is the reality of Kickstarter and perhaps crowd funding in general. Kickstarter works well for projects under $20,000 and only a few top-tier projects, get more than that. Sounds like the 80 to 20 rule to me. But does this hurt the crowd-funding and sites like Kickstarter? I would argue not at all. If anything, it means project creators need to adjust their exceptions and understand what they are up against.

Don’t try to hit a home run right away. Launch small and launch often. Over time you will figure out what works and what doesn’t. Be realistic in your expectations. If you’re project takes off great, but it should be a reward for working hard, not your strategy. (Hey even Amanda Palmer did it that way.)

Sure I would love for one of my projects to take off, but I’m not expecting it anytime soon. I’m not sure thats the point either. Kickstarter provides a safe and reliable way to test ideas and learn what it takes to create something that resonates with people beyond family and friends. It also provides a platform for skilled project creators to reach a large number of people. It’s pretty clear that on Kickstarter there is room for both. The challenge is being honest with ourselves about where we fall on that scale.

Let me be clear, without Kickstarter there is NO way I could have raised $15,000 to start our film. Maybe I’m not giving myself enough credit, but I just don’t think asking friends to send money via paypal would have had the same impact. There is just something about a project on Kickstarter that people respond to.

It gave me an opportunity to launch an idea and learn with very little risk. What bothers me is when people present Kickstarter as an easy source of capital or a lottery where your project just might get picked. I think that completely glosses over all the work that goes into a project and sells people false hope. Projects that take off represent solid ideas, skilled creators and hard work. Anyone who says otherwise is lucky or lying. Now, stop reading and go make something happen!

Perry Chan’s Six Principles on why Kickstarter projects are successful

In 2009, only five weeks after Kickstarter launched, Perry Chen gave an Ignite talk about what makes a successful project. Even though the site was still very young, many of the ideas he presented still hold true.

1) Be Real – “It’s humans asking other humans to help them.”

2) Have a clear goal – “It’s not sponsor my life. It’s not fund me as an artist for some vague pursuit.”

3) Offer fun rewards – “It’s about finding ways to provide value to the people who are helping you out.”

4) Show you can execute – “So anyone can throw up a page, anyone can have idea, but before people are going to open their wallets they want to know you can execute.”

5) Involve the audience – “The line between creators and the audience is getting blurred every day.”

6) Spread the word – “Your idea isn’t going to mutate out there. Your going to need to push it out there and get your friends to help you spread the word.”

“If you do these six things, you are going to have a really great crowd-funding experience.” – Perry Chen


A Kickstart’s Guide to Kickstarter TOC:

pssst…you can read all of this offline by downloading the e-book.

Introduction
A Kickstarter’s Guide to Kickstarter: Introduction
How Kickstarter “Kickstartered” it’s own website
Understanding Kickstarter
The Basics of Kickstarter
Kickstarter is an updated version of the Parton Model
Kickstarter is like girl scout cookies…without the calories!
Make sure your project has an ending
Some additional benefits to running a Kickstarter project
Perry Chan’s Six Principles on why Kickstarter projects are successful
Yancey’s thoughts on getting funded
Brainstorming Your Project
What is this damn thing about?
Simplify your project for success
Is your project a Purple Cow?
Making Lemonade And Telling A Good Story
Reward The Patrons
Naming Your Kickstarter Project
Doing Your Homework
Before you launch, do your homework
No one cares about you
Some People Care About You
Who is Your Audience?
Where is Your Audience?
Resonating With Your Audience
Crossing Chasms
What Will it Cost?
Understanding Profit Margin and Costs
Setting Your Goals
Make or Break Decisions
Running the Numbers
Focus on what you need
Reasonable funding goals
Why be Reasonable?
How long your campaign runs depends on one thing, momentum
30 days or less
Managing Deadlines
Going for the BIG bucks
The Allure of a Large Backer
Pricing theory, thoughts about pricing your Kickstarter rewards
The Paradox of Choice
Crafting Your Pitch
Creating a compelling pitch for your Kickstarter project
Four questions people want answered when visiting your Kickstarter page.
Show some credibility to get more backers
Clarity is your friend
How to ask for Support
Kickstarter is a video-driven site
Examples of great pitch videos
Launching Your Project
Launching your project
How to track the progress of your Kickstarter campaign
The 30% Kickstarter project “Tipping Point”
Conclusion
How to engage an audience with a Kickstarter project: Idea & Story

Yancey’s thoughts on getting funded

So what does it take to get funded? That is a key question, the one I’ll be exploring in this book. For now, I thought I would share some of the founders’ thoughts on what they think it takes to get funded.

Each Project is a Story

During a talk co-founder Yancey Strickler gave in June of 2011, he explains how every project is the story.

“Each Kickstarter project is a narrative of a real person doing something important or something meaningful, something they care about. We get to follow along. We get to act as an audience. These are people talking to their audience’s peers. These are people just like you and I, trying to raise money for an idea, trying to build support for their idea from people just like you and I.” – Yancey Strickler, Creative Mornings June 2011

Strickler goes on to explain that Kickstarter is a video-driven site. When people come to a project page, the first thing they do is click on the video to see what the project is all about. He calls the videos “anti-commercials” because they are like advertisements for an idea, but authentic.

The other way that stories are told are through rewards. Great rewards tell the story and share the experience with the audience.

Yancey on Why Projects Fail

Yancey Stickler believes projects that fail, do so for several reasons. Either the creator is going for too much money, or he or she has no history or “proof of concept.” Creators either have unrealistic expectations, or they are too commercial.


A Kickstart’s Guide to Kickstarter TOC:

pssst…you can read all of this offline by downloading the e-book.

Introduction
A Kickstarter’s Guide to Kickstarter: Introduction
How Kickstarter “Kickstartered” it’s own website
Understanding Kickstarter
The Basics of Kickstarter
Kickstarter is an updated version of the Parton Model
Kickstarter is like girl scout cookies…without the calories!
Make sure your project has an ending
Some additional benefits to running a Kickstarter project
Perry Chan’s Six Principles on why Kickstarter projects are successful
Yancey’s thoughts on getting funded
Brainstorming Your Project
What is this damn thing about?
Simplify your project for success
Is your project a Purple Cow?
Making Lemonade And Telling A Good Story
Reward The Patrons
Naming Your Kickstarter Project
Doing Your Homework
Before you launch, do your homework
No one cares about you
Some People Care About You
Who is Your Audience?
Where is Your Audience?
Resonating With Your Audience
Crossing Chasms
What Will it Cost?
Understanding Profit Margin and Costs
Setting Your Goals
Make or Break Decisions
Running the Numbers
Focus on what you need
Reasonable funding goals
Why be Reasonable?
How long your campaign runs depends on one thing, momentum
30 days or less
Managing Deadlines
Going for the BIG bucks
The Allure of a Large Backer
Pricing theory, thoughts about pricing your Kickstarter rewards
The Paradox of Choice
Crafting Your Pitch
Creating a compelling pitch for your Kickstarter project
Four questions people want answered when visiting your Kickstarter page.
Show some credibility to get more backers
Clarity is your friend
How to ask for Support
Kickstarter is a video-driven site
Examples of great pitch videos
Launching Your Project
Launching your project
How to track the progress of your Kickstarter campaign
The 30% Kickstarter project “Tipping Point”
Conclusion
How to engage an audience with a Kickstarter project: Idea & Story

Some additional benefits to running a Kickstarter project

It is a great way to build support for a project that you want to do. It also has additional benefits such as:

Connecting to an audience – This can be an existing audience or one that you build through the campaign. You will be able to ask them for support, exchange ideas, make friends, and do business. Having a group of people that you can turn to repeatedly, will make launching future endeavors that much easier.

Cutting out the middleman – In many industries such as film and music, one must go through a middleman in order to have a project funded. With Kickstarter the fans are the people who fund your project. If they want to support you and see it happen, then it will.

Exchanging value – That means that both the project creator and the backer get something from the transaction. The project creator gets to see his or her idea come to life, and backers get a reward. This could be a cool new product or the good feeling from helping a friend.

Retaining control – Traditionally, when working with middlemen and other organizations, they end up owning the rights to your artistic work. On Kickstarter this is not the case. You retain full control and are free to do whatever you would like with the finished product.

Gaining Permission – When people back your project, they are not only giving you money, but they’re giving you permission to talk to them about your ideas and future projects. Every time you send a message to your backers it goes right into their inbox. Like many other forms of digital marketing, you now have a way to talk directly to people who want to hear from you.


A Kickstart’s Guide to Kickstarter TOC:

pssst…you can read all of this offline by downloading the e-book.

Introduction
A Kickstarter’s Guide to Kickstarter: Introduction
How Kickstarter “Kickstartered” it’s own website
Understanding Kickstarter
The Basics of Kickstarter
Kickstarter is an updated version of the Parton Model
Kickstarter is like girl scout cookies…without the calories!
Make sure your project has an ending
Some additional benefits to running a Kickstarter project
Perry Chan’s Six Principles on why Kickstarter projects are successful
Yancey’s thoughts on getting funded
Brainstorming Your Project
What is this damn thing about?
Simplify your project for success
Is your project a Purple Cow?
Making Lemonade And Telling A Good Story
Reward The Patrons
Naming Your Kickstarter Project
Doing Your Homework
Before you launch, do your homework
No one cares about you
Some People Care About You
Who is Your Audience?
Where is Your Audience?
Resonating With Your Audience
Crossing Chasms
What Will it Cost?
Understanding Profit Margin and Costs
Setting Your Goals
Make or Break Decisions
Running the Numbers
Focus on what you need
Reasonable funding goals
Why be Reasonable?
How long your campaign runs depends on one thing, momentum
30 days or less
Managing Deadlines
Going for the BIG bucks
The Allure of a Large Backer
Pricing theory, thoughts about pricing your Kickstarter rewards
The Paradox of Choice
Crafting Your Pitch
Creating a compelling pitch for your Kickstarter project
Four questions people want answered when visiting your Kickstarter page.
Show some credibility to get more backers
Clarity is your friend
How to ask for Support
Kickstarter is a video-driven site
Examples of great pitch videos
Launching Your Project
Launching your project
How to track the progress of your Kickstarter campaign
The 30% Kickstarter project “Tipping Point”
Conclusion
How to engage an audience with a Kickstarter project: Idea & Story