Most entrepreneurs are already aware of the benefits and various avenues of crowdfunding. Online crowdfunding has helped to level the playing field between large businesses and small startups by providing the capital to bring a physical product to the marketplace. Crowdfunding has been so successful, that there was even a bill signed into law, called the JOBS Act, that was passed in April of 2012 designed to encourage funding small businesses. Winning hearts and minds to join the team and be part of a product launch requires a compelling pitch – for me, a Kickstarter pitch.
Crowdsourcing vs Crowdfunding
YouTube, iStockphoto.com and ancestry.com are examples of crowdsourcing. These companies provide a platform which allows customers to contribute content and also benefit from content provided by others.
The crowdfunding platforms are designed to raise capital for startups, such as Indiegogo.com and Kickstarter.com. In a recent blogpost entitled, “PRODUCT MANUFACTURER UPDATE & CROWDFUNDING DECISION“ I announced my decision to utilize Kickstarter as my crowdfunding platform, and I explained the reason that I chose Kickstarter over Indiegogo.
I have selected a videographer and scheduled the shoot for 12/30/2015. I had hoped that we would be ready and able to shoot the video and go live in early Dec, but I just could not make that happen. Nevertheless, I will keep pressing on as I am anxious to see how receptive people will be to the product and pricepoint.
The video is absolutely essential and critical to a Kickstarter campaign. Supporters want to meet with the founder, creator or inventory and they want to hear a pitch. They want a product that they find interesting, beautiful or useful, but it seems that just as much, they want to feel a connection with the person they want to support. And until we can teletransport ourselves or project holograms, this connection is best made through video.
Since I have no experience editing and very little experience shooting video, I wanted to leave this to a professional. Since my budget is limited, I put out the word around campus that I would pay $100 and provide pizza to any young person with some experience who wanted to build their reel. I found a guy who majored in communications and works for the local PBS station on campus.
The Kickstarter Pitch
So for the last few months, I have been honing my Kickstarter pitch. To give me an idea of a typical, successful Kickstarter pitch, I spent hours watching other Kickstarter videos and read a few blogs. I paid attention to the technical aspects, such as the photography, lighting, music, audio background, subject and speaker. That is all important to one degree or another and will mostly be addressed by the videographer. One of the most helpful tutorials I found was a video on the Kickstarter blog called, “How to Make an Awesome Video“. I found this super helpful mainly because it put me at ease. Essentially, it said, “Here are the key elements you need. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Relax – chances are, you are just like everyone else, so don’t try to look like a pro.”
The biggest mystery that I wanted to unravel was the pitch. What is it that sells an idea to an audience? How do you provide just the right amount of information to make the viewer read more on the page, but not too much information to lose interest? How do you sell a product when all you can do is provide a pitch and not talk to the potential customer? How long should the Kickstarter pitch be? Should I look at the camera, or off to the side as if I am talking to someone else? I eventually figured all this out, or at least, I came to some conclusions that I hope will work for me. You can sit in the judge’s seat and perhaps share your summary judgement in the comments below.
I came up with my own little formula that seems to suit my situation. Since we are all unique individuals, I don’t believe in a perfect formula that fits all situations, but I think that I came up with a basic framework for me to follow. I just hope it works. I’ll put my neck out and share it with you. My framework is really a combination of two basic formulas used for sales and storytelling.
As the salesperson, you want to create trust by connecting with your potential buyer. Then show a path that results in their success by providing options. Then demonstrate your credibility to be the one to solve their problem.
To make the sale, you generally want to follow 3 steps:
- Introduce a problem,
- Aggravate the problem
- Provide a solution to the problem
I have been on the “buyer” side of the table listening to sales people for many years and I find most salesmen to be rather boring. Perhaps this is because of my field in my 9-5 job, or perhaps it is in my nature to research the heck of of a product – to the point that I know more about it than the salesperson – by the time I shop for the product or service
Maybe I am an odd duck. Maybe I am just weird. But I like a hook. What I mean is – I like to be drawn into a story, especially something with which I can relate.
Good storytelling tugs on emotions and sparks visions for the potential buyer. Storytelling, done right, is entertaining and memorable and has the advantage of being much more flexible than a sales pitch and can support more mediums than a typical pitch. It can incorporate music, narratives, actors, visual props, aids and much more. The problem can be introduced, aggravated and solved inside a good story and that’s what I hope to accomplish with my Kickstarter video.
I know that I sit at zero on the charismatic scale. I am afraid that there’s nothing I can do about that and I will not attempt to fake it in the video. (I can not act and if I thought I could, people would see right through it anyway) But the Kickstarter audience wants to make a connection. They want to get to know the creator of the product, maybe a bit of history, the goal of the campaign, and of course, the benefits of the product. I am pretty sure that there has never been a successful Kickstarter campaign that did NOT have a video. And from my research the campaigns that have the creator on camera are more successful than those who are off camera. Being on front of a camera is not something that I am comfortable with, but launching this business has taken me outside of my comfort zone several times, and I am sure it will not be the last.
Here is the script I have written for my Kickstarter pitch.
[Open with picture of my grandfather in uniform. Transition to picture of his wife and kids]
“In 1952, a Navy World War 2 veteran and his wife, also a Navy WW2 veteran had twins. A couple of years later these parents, who had their own business as chiropractors, needed a way to occupy the twin girls as busy toddlers. He decided to create a fun, unique and long-lasting kids desk. They called it, the “Double Desk”. The twins eventually grew up, married and had kids of their own; who again used it for their kids. [Find an old picture of me and desk, if possible]
[Int. kindergarten classroom, Maple Grove Elementary – Day]
Hi, my name is Darin and the grandson of the creator of the Double Desk and also the founder of a new company called, “Kids Double Desk”. As an engineer, and a product developer, I would like to not only manufacture the new and improved Double Desk, but also develop additional, products already on my drafting table..
[Picture of me, my wife and the boys]
I am a husband and a dad of three, busy boys. Our first two boys were 13 months apart, so you can imagine just how busy and worn out my wife and I felt when they were toddlers. So I went out to the garage and built a new and improved version of my grandfather’s Double Desk.
[Picture of my boys using the desk]
I received many compliments on the desk and had a few requests. So I went back to the garage to build a few more. I made one for my nieces. [Show the desk and the nieces] I made another for my kids preschool. [Show the yellow desk] And I gave a few more to friends.
Making them in my garage was extremely time consuming. [Briefly show picture of a bunch of desks in my garage] The parts are simple, but the shapes are extremely challenging to cut by hand [Camera back on me] and can only be mass-produced on a CNC router; an expensive machine that I do not have. But I have secured a US manufacturer lined up for production. You have the unique opportunity to be the first to enjoy what I believe will become a common household name in the children’s industry.
The Double Desk is designed for children from ages 2-7. [Camera on me – standing on the desk] It is sturdy enough to hold me (190lbs)! One person can easily assemble and disassemble it to stow it away neatly under a bed or tight space. [brief cut to sliding it under a bed] Parents and teachers appreciate the design which subtly keeps their work separated. When the kids are finished, books, papers, art supplies and projects can be tucked away in the cubbies.
[Camera on me]
It is easy to assemble and easy to put away but attractive enough to leave as a permanent fixture. Made of birch plywood the parts fit together like a 3D puzzle with mortise & tennon joints, and are secured with counter-sink, flush screws; so only a small allen wrench is needed for assembly and disassembly. The tops can be laminated with chalkboard or whiteboard vinyl. In fact, we can offer extra tops to be hung on a wall. These are available as entry-level support tiers.
Safety was of the highest concern during the design. There are no moving parts, which means no pinched fingers or bonked heads. The seat is oversized and is only 12 inches above the floor. While the big kids are doing homework at the kitchen table, your little ones can be doing homework at their own special table.
Kids love the fact that the DoubleDesk allows them to remain face-to-face with their friends while working on their projects. It reduces arguments, saves space, keeps your kids occupied for many hours of healthy and educational fun! It is also great for playdates, preschools, childcare centers, waiting rooms, the list goes on.
You and your loved ones will enjoy this for many years. When your children outgrow it, be sure to tuck it away. The DoubleDesk will give your children and grandchildren thousands of hours of enjoyment because, “Everything is better with a friend!”
With your help, the funding will allow me to source the manufacturing here in the US. Profits will be reinvested to facilitate future manufacturing, warehousing and logistics for B-B and B-C commerce. Initially, these desk will be sold as DIY kits. All parts are provided, but sanding, finishing and moulding attachments are up to you. Only a few limited-edition units will be completely finished and customized to your order during this Kickstarter campaign. Stretch goals will be used to complete the next product and bring it to the market.
With your support, I can bring the Double Desk to the market, and develop the next product for your kids. Your support is appreciated. Please be sure to share this with your friends, families, teachers and daycares. Don’t forget to tweet, pin or like Kids Double Desk on facebook or on your favorite social media platform. Thank you for your time and support.”
I have never written anything like this in the past. I have never run a Kickstarter campaign or done anything like this, ever. So I really have no idea how this is going to do. Let me know your thoughts on the script. Is it clear or muddy? Does it flow, or is it choppy? Is it weak, or is it compelling? Obviously this script is just that, words on a page. Hopefully video and music will breathe more life into it, but the script must also be strong enough to stand alone. Did I accomplish that?
I would love to hear from you and get a sneak peak into some honest comments below. I will read and appreciate each and every one of them!