The Kickstarter experience
With Luke Whitehead.
Founder of Stag Grooming Company
"Why Male Grooming Products?"
I knew that I wanted something to improve my shaving routine, but I had no idea what it was that would achieve that.
I hated shaving. Most mornings I would skip shaving altogether and spend the day feeling like Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks, Castaway). It was a chore. I took no pride in my plastic razors mass produced in the toxic smoke of the Far East. I was fed up of rashes, burns and graffiti sized canisters across my bathroom floor.
I knew that I wanted a change but I had no idea what else was out there.
I took to the supermarket and found more expensive plastic razors that claimed to do all sorts. It was like the more blades and more gizmos the razor had, the more they charged me and the worse my shave got. I was getting nowhere.
I realised that shaving is actually incredibly simple, but in order to make more money, the big boys had to over-engineer their multi-blade face chewers and completely exaggerate their potential performance.
Fortunately, I stubbled into the world of Wet Shaving and Safety Razors. I was immediately fond of the idea. Turning my morning chore into something I loved?Using products I was proud of that made me feel invigorated for the whole day? S'il vous plait.
My problem was that I couldn't find a Safety Razor that I really liked. I wanted something I would be proud of. Something with a personal touch. We are the country of the Gentleman, why couldn't I find a Safety Razor designed and built in England? Ah - now there's an idea. Next stop, Kickstarter...
"What did you do well?"
We chose Kickstarter for its international reach, But, before we even made an account, I made sure I was both capable of bringing my idea to life and also that the idea was a good one. As obvious as this sounds, if your product is no good, nobody is going to buy it. Don't get me wrong, some of the most successful campaigns are nothing out of the ordinary, but if the author can at least tell their story, there really is no limit to a project's potential success.
OK we had an idea now. But what was our story? On Kickstarter, you need to draw people in, make them believe in you and what you're doing. You have to be making a difference. Crowdfunding backers want to invest in something that will excite them, something that will change the way we do things.
Once your campaign is over, your story will become your USP. So if you don't have a story to stand out from the crowd on Kickstarter, you're unlikely to have much luck selling your product outside of Kickstarter.
My hope was that Crowdfunding Backers would get on board with my idea and the difference I was trying to make, so I shouted about it. My story or USP broadly fell into three categories:
Sustainability: I will always champion anything that means not killing our planet. I chose to design a safety razor that had no plastic, partly because I hated what the plastic razor stood for, not least for its toxic carbon footprint. I chose sustainable British woods so that I knew where my raw materials were coming from.
British craftsmanship: I disliked that we had become a consumerist country of cheap imports, and I wanted to bring back the quality associated with the masterful skills that have become so scarce. So, I chose to partner with a chap in Cheshire who had been a woodworker for twenty years. Our backers loved the idea that each of their razors were handmade in England.
A better way of doing things: We offered change, we offered an alternative to mainstream corporate monopolisation of an age old ritual. We were bringing back a tradition that the people of Kickstarter wanted, and we were bringing it back with a contemporary twist for excellent value.
If there's one thing you do, make a video. And be in it.
Using your iPhone is fine, but make sure you purchase a seperate microphone (£10 from Amazon) otherwise you will sound like you're being video'd underwater with a snorkle on.
Being in the video means people can see you. They can see who you are and begin to trust you. You don't need to do anything special. Just say hello and be yourself.
"What did you wish you knew?"
How do I advertise and how much do I spend?
I was worried about anyone finding my campaign. I was wrong. If you have a good product, it's more than likely you won't need to advertise at all. How, you ask?
As soon as you launch, you will feature in the Newly Launched section of Kickstarter. This is often the most visited page of the site, so thousands of people WILL see your campaign straight away. It is up to you whether you can entice them into backing it. Don't be surprised to raise hundreds or even thousands within the first hour of launching.
I would suggest using Kicktraq to view a typical funding cycle of a project.
Also, social media, social media, social media!
Be savvy with your niche. There are people out there who would love to write about you. We had a surprise feature in Clearly Magazine, for example.
Once you fall off the Newly Launched page, that honeymoon period is gone and will never return. There is some