Indiegogo’s Kate Drane “We’re building a global community that funds what matters to them, built on trust”

May 26, 2015
Vote on Hacker News

Screen-Shot-2014-06-13-at-11.45.26-AM

Indiegogo has rapidly grown into a global platform, leading many hardware startups around the world to success. Their rise has been a welcome development for hardware investment shy VCs, given Indiegogo’s solid track record. In fact, since 2013 Indiegogo-backed companies have raised more than $210M in VC funding, including health scanner Scanadu who raised $35M post campaign, fitness tracker Misfit who’ve raised $40M, and social robot JIBO who’s raised $25M.

In advance of her talk at this week’s Connected Conference, we reached out to Senior Director of Midwest Outreach Kate Drane, who talked with us about what makes a successful campaign and revealed some of her recent Indiegogo favorites.

How do you build community before launching your product?

First, bring together a team. We’ve found that campaigns with a team raise 339% more than campaigns that run solo, which makes sense because it both broadens their reach, but also helps validates their campaign. It’s important to assemble a tribe around your product or mission. Kevin Kelly is amazing and wrote a famous blog post called 1000 True Fans which describes how you just need 1,000 true fans that love your vision/product and are a part of your tribe. A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. While you don’t necessarily need 1000 true fans, the core message remains — your success will be determined by your ability to rally people behind what you are funding. To that end, I always give the advice to upcoming campaigners to create a host committee to support them before going live. These are the people who will be lined up to contribute on day one, and to help spread the word once you’ve gone live. It’s really important to get initial momentum, so as campaigners are building their plans, ensure they know who will be making the initial contributions for day of launch. Our data shows that campaigns that raise 50% or more of their goal in the first 48 hours raise 47% more money on average.

Overall, the preparation you do before you launch is the key to success. We’ve created a prep calendar which outlines the steps to take to help campaigners set themselves up for success. Our Indiegogo Playbook also provides amazing best practice advice.

Once you are live, I highly recommend using Indiegogo’s referral tool, which allows you to amplify your promotion efforts through your community. This article spells out how the Light Harmonic team crushed it time and time again by leveraging this tool.

Any best practices you’ve seen in terms of managing the time between campaign wrap-up and the actual product launch (this often seems to be an area where startups struggle)?

Totally! As important background, I’d love to paraphrase this blog post: “When Indiegogo launched in 2008, the crowdfunding industry did not exist. Our founders were inspired by their own frustrations attempting to raise money for things they cared about, so they decided to launch a business that would give anyone, anywhere a fair shot at bringing any idea to life. The core belief behind Indiegogo is that the platform we created had to be open – a platform without judgment or gatekeepers – that celebrated the entrepreneurial spirit and empowered innovation.”

My main advice : do your research before you launch. And be honest and transparent about where you are in the process. We know that potential contributors are best served when they get educated, know the facts and can therefore make informed decisions. If you are going to be late, be upfront with your contributors about it. A campaign that handled their messaging super well is Orapup. Their apology video is amazing. They experienced a problem with their mold manufacturers, which pushed their ship date. They clearly explained the issue, shared this info in an engaging way, and offered a refund to anyone who wanted it.

We know that there is a lot that goes into bringing a product to life. To that end, we’ve created a hardware handbook that provides guidance to aspiring hardwarians. This handy guide provides some rules of thumb for COGs, choosing your manufacturer and more.

Additionally, before you go live, do some scenario planning. What happens if you do not reach your funding goal? If you reach it? If you moderately overfund? If you dramatically overfund? There is a big difference between building 100 of a product, as opposed to 1,000, or 10,000 or even 100,000. For example, if you are a small team looking to assemble your product in your basement, you may not be equipped to handle 10,000 perks. You may want to consider limiting the quantity of the perks you offer.

We’re building a global community that funds what matters to them, built on trust. We are all responsible for doing our part to ensure everyone has a great experience so this powerful tool can continue empowering people forever and ever.

What are your thoughts on the emergence of crowdequity? How do you think this might affect what you do?

We’re encouraged by the SEC’s progress towards finalizing equity crowdfunding rules. The balanced regulations announced last week will not only protect investors but allow anyone to invest in the ideas they believe in. Our mission at Indiegogo is to democratize finance and we are continuing to explore how equity crowdfunding may play a role in our business model.

What are some of the most innovative Connected Hardware projects you’ve seen recently, perhaps on Indiegogo or elsewhere?

Top Wearable/ IoT Campaigns on Indiegogo include: Misfit, TrackR, Canary, Scanadu, Skully, Flic, and AmpStrip to name a few.

Would love to plug my hometown. I just met with the Oomi team, which is the most funded Chicago-based crowdfunding campaign on any platform. They’ve raised over $1.27M, and still have 30 days left. They are redefining the smart home market. From their campaign pitch: “Oomi Cube is the brain of your smart home… Oomi Cube is packed with 8 environment sensors, a night vision camera, and a bit more.”

This week we’ll be hosting the second edition of the Connected Conference, a 3-day event dedicated to the intersection of Internet & Industry, Hardware & Software, Physical & Digital.