7 Steps To Successfully Execute Crowd-Funding Projects From India
Before I begin listing down the not-so-secret recipe to successfully crowd-fund your projects from India, here’s a little background about the project that we successfully crowd-funded.
Say hello to Maha Yodha- A strategic card game based on Indian Mythology. My partner Sagar Shankar & I are both avid table top gamers. Every time, we played a new game based on Greek/Nordic mythology, we wondered why there was no game on our mythology. We decided to take matters into our hands and make a game based on our legends and mythology. Maha Yodha was the result of this endeavor.
Mind you, table top gaming in India is very nascent. From the beginning, we knew that our market and customers lay abroad in EU & US. Kickstarter and crowd-funding played a really important role in our journey, since the markets and customers we were targeting were already active on platforms like Kickstarter & Indiegogo.
We launched our project on May 7 2014, hoping to raise at least 16,000 USD. 45 days later, we had raised 34,624 USD. 862 backers from all over the world most graciously gave a nod to our dreams. We have now successfully finished the shipping of Maha Yodha to all our backers and are working on the next Kickstarter project.
Let us know look at the step involved in executing a Successful Crowd funding project.
Step 1: Why crowd-fund?
This is an important debate to have. Crowd funding is a lot of effort. It will take you months (anywhere between 6 – 12 months of dedicated time) to prepare the campaign page, make the video, get the right testimonials. Most importantly, it is a social/media/public campaign. You will have to spend a lot of time promoting the campaign on social media and reaching out to your networks.
If you just want to raise money, there are more time-efficient ways of raising funds. If however, you need to get a user community going, crowd funding is for you. Crowd funding isn’t just about taking money from a bunch of people, but also about listening to them, taking their feedback and co-creating the final product.
Step 2: Finding the right platform for your idea
There are multiple platforms. Each has its own strengths. Kickstarter is a downright leader in the categories of Games. Hence, it was our natural choice.
Research is really important here. Dredge the bottoms of all platforms to see all similar campaigns. Analyze their performance by platform viz. successfully funded card games on Kickstarter vs Indiegogo; average funding goal; average no of backers etc. The data will help you choose your crowd-funding platform.
Also, take a look at your own constraints. For e.g. to run a campaign on KickStarter you need to be/partner with a UK/US/Australian citizen.
Step 3: Charity begins at home
Be an active crowd funder first. Interact with other project creators. Participate in project chatter. Fund a few projects. Have a look at a few final rewards to gauge the final quality. Understand the challenges/pitfalls other creators face before you decide to launch your project.
Ideally, start doing this at least 9-12 months before launching your campaign. We had backed and received several rewards from other campaigns, so we knew what to expect when it came to finagling the specs for our game.
Step 4: Build your brand
Successful crowd funding means getting your own crowd. You have to sell your idea to a group of engaged backers. Start with friends. Convert them first. Others will follow.
Build a website, FB page, blog etc to start engaging with the crowd. Since, Maha Yodha was a highly visual product, we chose FB as our main communication channel while simultaneously ensuring we had an all-round web presence-website, YouTube, twitter etc
Crowds like the human stories. Show them why it’s personal this time. Why your product needs to be out there. Bleed some of that passion in the content.
Step 5: Preparing the campaign page
When people discover you on the platform, they come to your campaign page. This needs to be perfect. Say your story eloquently. Make it personal. Make a good pitch video. Showcase your prototypes. Send your product to reviewers. Make sure your idea doesn’t come off as half-baked.
Citing Maha Yodha’s example here, when we launched we already had 5-6 game reviewers ready to go with the reviews. We had sample art for more than 30% of our final art. Our prototype was done and we had great renders of the final packaging. All this helped convince backers that we were REAL.
You will need to spend at least 1-1.5 months on the campaign page content and visuals to get this right. Start early and share the pre-live link among your friends and family to get their feedback.
Can’t stress enough on the importance of an engaging video. It makes or breaks a campaign. Go Pro if you can, but ensure you budget for the expenses in the funding goal.
Step 6: The right rewards
Rewards are a big thing. Nothing excites backers like cheap stretch goals and free add-ons. Under promise and over deliver. Remain focused on realizing your main goal. Don’t promise any/many add-ons and stretch goals to backers which aren’t directly related to your product.
This is a mistake we made during our KS campaign. We promised many add-ons during the campaign like iPhone covers, Patachitra paintings etc. Some of them didn’t attract enough backers to be feasible. Even if you attract enough backers for the add-ons, shipping becomes a nightmare when you have to source stuff from several different vendors like tee shirts, iphone covers etc. Can lead to delays in fulfillment.
The most important mantra here is that always offer a good deal to your crowd-funders. They are the first ones to come and help you in your journey. Give them a good deal. Period.
Step 7: How much is too much?
A critical component to any successful campaign is the funding goal. Keep it too high and backers stay away as they like to fund successful projects. Keep it low and don’t account for the costs of the campaign & production effectively and your project is doomed for failure. You will be named and shamed in public. It has happened to well meaning creators. It could be you, if you aren’t careful/prudent.
For Maha Yodha, we kept the funding goal at USD 16,000. We did not account for many of our expenses like production expenses for the video, ad expenses for promoting the campaign etc. This was our skin in the game. Invest your time & money in scaling the idea to a prototype stage and then go to the backers for making it into a full blown product. Don’t charge the backers for your time spent on developing the concept.
Always remember, to keep a little something extra aside for the shipping. If you are shipping physical products like we did, you will pay a little extra for shipping. We roughly paid out ~30% of our gross receipts on shipping the game. There will be a few returns, losses in transit etc. Account for 5% of orders to be damaged/lost/returned.
All the best for your crowd funding project!
[box type=”shadow” ]About The Authors: Chandan, Formerly, a management consultant with a big 4 consulting firm, quit his job to start up Leprechaun Games. Leprechaun Games aims to gamify Indian mythology digital & physical games. Sagar, Co-founder of Leprechaun Games. Sagar is an independent business & strategy consultant in high impact sectors like Finance, Housing & Education[/box]