Article co-written with Becky Brisley
When a company sets out to raise money on Kickstarter, the founders hope they raise enough to make it and continue their project. For OBD Solutions, a company that specializes in the design, engineering, and manufacturing of OBD cables, interfaces, software, and development tools, they had an overwhelming response for their Kickstarter campaign.
The product, OBDLink MX, is a versatile pocket-sized device that allows a smartphone or tablet communicate with a vehicle. The device can be used for several functions, including reading and clearing diagnostic trouble codes, helping improve gas mileage, logging trips, and displaying hundreds of real-time parameters. And, on some vehicles, the device can act as a remote that can lock/unlock doors, start the engine, roll windows up and down, and control the lights, radio, and power seats.
The product’s campaign ended on March 5, but it reached it’s $35,000 goal by noon on the first day. The campaign ended with an amazing $640,698 and 7,523 backers.
Vitaliy Chetverikov, Co-Founder Chief Software Developer at OBD Solutions, shares his insight to the success and what to avoid when raising on Kickstarter.
Be a patient perfectionist; let your product develop fully first
“One of the top reasons for the success of this project, was our willingness to be patient, and spending as much time as necessary to perfect everything,” Chetverikov said. “The work on the Kickstarter began in the summer of 2013, and we shot the raw footage in September. Launching around the Christmas holidays was very tempting, but we simply weren’t ready. So we pushed the launch to January, and then again to February, as we worked on fixing the bugs in the device, made additional edits to the video (we added more footage and changed the storyline), and prepared the text and graphics for the Kickstarter project description.”
Take the time to think about your funding goal
“We were nervous,” he said. “In fact, originally we set the goal at $50,000, but as we got closer to the launch date, we decided to scale it back to a more conservative figure. This was our first Kickstarter, and we badly wanted it to be a success.”
Related: Founder of horror game GRAVE shares his advice for a successful Kickstarter
Keep it simple
“It’s wise to apply simplicity to all aspects of your Kickstarter, but especially resist the temptation to offer options and ‘stretch goals,’” he said. “They may get you a few extra pledges, but you will regret it later. Shorter duration risks missing out on the pledges. Longer durations will take away the sense of urgency. Also, offer product as reward; skip the t-shirts and other gimmicks.
Read the fine print
“There were some Kickstarter-specific rules that had a significant impact on our project, but these are liable to quickly become obsolete,” he said. “For example, we had to jump through some hoops to ensure that our project would get approved by the Kickstarter reviewers. Kickstarter has since introduced the “Launch Now” feature that allows the creators to bypass the review process (exploited by the brilliant “Potato Salad” campaign, that went on to collect over $50,000 in pledges). In another instance, we lost several days worth of pledges as a result of running afoul of Kickstarter’s rule that disallows offering multiple units as rewards. This restriction, too, has since been lifted.”
Watch out for trolls
“Avoid sub-$10 reward tiers, as they are often hijacked by trolls whose sole objective is to post disparaging comments about you and your project,” he said. “Don’t feed the trolls, and don’t give in to the demands of the vocal minority: Address legitimate concerns, but don’t engage in petty arguments, and keep your eye on the ball.”
Read our Kickstarter series with local founders sharing their secrets to a successful campaign.
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Article co-written with Becky Brisley