22: Gearing up for Kickstarter…again

So the first campaign didn’t succeed, but nor did it completely flop. Of the £60,000 target we hit about the £22,000 mark, with a few people dropping out along the way when success was clearly unlikely.

I want to say a huge thank you to all of my backers who helped get the project this far.

There were a few things that went wrong in the campaign, some of which were my fault and some which were just bad luck.

  1. I didn’t do a very good job of illustrating what Globe could actually do. Although I tried to make it clear that Globe is essentially a spherical monitor connected to a Raspberry Pi, I think my assumption that most people who would be interested would have technical background was false. I received several messages saying “can it display xyz?” the answer being a very positive yes. If it can be displayed on a regular monitor then it can be displayed on Globe, it will just be wrapped round the surface of a sphere. For every 1 person who messaged me though, there were probably several others who simply left the project page because of this lack of clarity. I will do my very best to better explain that for the campaigns reboot.
  2. Globe didn’t gain a huge amount of traction in the tech sphere. While Globe did get a feature in a couple of the online tech sites (digitaltrends, make.de) and on a radio show (FM4.at), more or less it came and went without much interest.
    While I did try to contact a number of other places all my emails went unanswered. This was probably partially my fault and partially just bad luck. The journalists and editors of some of the major blogs and magazines are no doubt inundated with messages from people such as myself, only having time to open and read a very small selection of the most interesting emails. I will need to revise the  content of my emails if I am to stand a chance of getting through to them, and to be more persistent in my approach. However, at the end of the day, a certain amount will come down to luck.
    What is interesting is that you can see that where Globe did feature, backers followed. For example there are 10 backers from Germany, double that of any similarly sized Western European countries so it just goes to show if you can get featured, it really helps.
  3. The campaign reward structure was poor. I was torn between whether to offer early bird rewards in the first place but eventually decided to include them. The danger with early bird rewards is that they are, in some ways, unfair to later backers. By offering discounted prices to the early backers, you are essentially pushing the cost of their discount onto those who come later. While it is nice to try and encourage backers to get the ball rolling early on, the negative sentiment it breeds is probably a bigger concern. For the next campaign there will be no early bird pricing. I have however modified the reward slightly to allow tier to be sold at close to the original early bird 1 price. By switching from a glass case to an acrylic one and offering only oak veneered MDF (the same as the prototype) I can save enough money to allow for a lower price.
    Ideally I could offer a lower price target, something to sit between £1 and £550. Unfortunately I don’t have a design to put on a tshirt (which resulted in virtually no one backing it) and I certainly can’t make Globe for any cheaper. I will however have a bunch of unused PCB panel space (since Globe is round) so I could potentially offer something made out of that.
  4. I set my funding target too high and tried to include too much into the project scope. For those who have read through my blog, you have heard me express interest in exploring certain designs, such as a flex PCB strip design rather than a circular disk & inductive slip rings. It was my intention to use some of the funding to explore these things but in hindsight it would have been better not to for a couple of reasons. Firstly, most people didn’t know about this extra stuff I wanted to do, having not read the blog and me being careful not to promise it in the Kickstarter page (in case the designs turned out to not be possible). Therefore the larger budget may have seemed unjustified. Secondly these things unnecessarily extended the project timeline which was likely off putting to potential backers. In reality Globe in it’s current form is very close to being a ready to ship device, and it’s that which people were backing. By removing this extra development from the project I can bring the funding target down and bring the timeline up giving the project a better chance of reaching its target.
    It was also my original intention to secure dedicated premises in which to work, giving me slightly more flexibility over my work space. In reality, procuring dedicated premises should not factor into the minimum target of a Kickstarter campaign, instead being something that can be done if the campaign does especially well. I have recently been to look round a great maker space in London, which, if the new campaign goes ahead, will be where I do my final prototyping and assembly.
  5. People tend to back projects that look like they are going to succeed. This is partly in relation to point 4 and partially just a general observation. I saw throughout my campaign some of my backers cancelled their pledge as they saw that, based on the time elapsed and funding reached, the project was unlikely to reach its target. While, in my opinion, cancelling a pledge is a bit of a shitty thing to do, I can understand that people don’t want £550+ tied up in a project which is probably going to fail, when there might be other awesome projects they want to back with that money instead. If they were actually cancelling their pledges, how many people decided not to back based on the same reasoning? It becomes somewhat of a vicious cycle, people don’t back because it doesn’t look like the project will succeed…because people don’t back. Hopefully most of my backers from the last campaign will back again, meeting the funding goal very swiftly. This means that for future backers, who know that the project is successful, will be more inclined to back, however I am certainly not relying on this. The project will be possible even if the new target is only barely met.
  6. My presentation in general was a bit crap. Unfortunately there isn’t much I can do about this one. At the end of the day I’m an engineer, not a graphic designer or any such person with artistic talent. Because I have no money (and at this point I mean literally no money), I am unable to bring in photographers who actually know what they are doing, people who can do pretty graphics or slick videos like you see in other Kickstarter campaigns. This means that all my media doesn’t look as good as it could have and my overall presentation of Globe probably isn’t as direct or informative as it could be. I have tried to tidy up my campaign page, get rid of some of the unnecessary tech waffle and make the whole thing easier for people to understand, but that’s all I can do.

That pretty much sums up what I think went wrong and what I am going to try to do to make the next campaign succeed. If anyone has any other input I am always happy to hear it.

The new project should be going live at 12:00 GMT on Friday (06/10/2017) assuming Kickstarter approves it any time soon.

Still waiting for approval so it looks like it will be pushed either into the weekend or early next week.

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