The secret sauce to raising money on Kickstarter

You may be a food aficionado or a technology geek, but unless you’ve been living under a rock in the last few months, you’ve probably heard about the potato salad guy who raised over $55,000 on Kickstarter and launched the first-ever PotatoStock charity festival.
However, most Kickstarters are not as lucky when trying to raise funds to support their new ideas.
To help solve this, AZ Tech Beat kicked off its first Lunch and Learn of the season and gathered some of the top minds for advice on Kickstarter strategies.
Related: AZ Tech Beat Free Lunch and Learn is Kickstarted! Startups reveal secrets to a successful campaign
The August 29 startup panel included Tristan Moore, founder of the 3D horror game GRAVE and Broken Windows Studio, Mark Kirschenbaum, founder of Hypoxic, a camera monitor for extreme sports, and Dave Beecham, director of business development for OBD Solutions.
Fit to give advice to other startup hopefuls, GRAVE, Hypoxic and OBD Solution’s OBDLink MX WiFi raised well-over their Kickstarter goals.
kickstarter collage
Both GRAVE and Hypoxic had the original goal of $30,000 and ended up raising $37,000 and $43,000, respectfully. The OBDLink MX WiFi, which is a gadget that allows smartphones and tablets communicate with cars, reached its goal of $35,000 by noon the first day and went on to raise a grand total of $640,698.
Although OBD Solutions already had other similar products on the market, Beecham said the company chose to use Kickstarter due to its low risk and uses of versatile marketing.
“For us, we just felt that Kickstarter was a good sweet spot for crowdsourcing and our products seem to be a good fit,” Beecham said.
While OBD Solutions already had other products on the market, all of the panelists emphasized the point of having a product readily available when you launch a Kickstarter campaign.
“People have been burnt a lot on Kickstarter,” Kirchenbaum said. “You can see right through people who have an idea but don’t know how to facilitate it. The demo or actual working product gets that feel-good feeling from your customers.”
To test audience reactions, Kirchenbaum sent his helmet-mounted camera monitor to skydivers and other extreme sportsmen to raise awareness of the product within his target community.
turned on by hypoxic2
Moore did the same with GRAVE, which premiered its demo at a festival right before its Kickstarter campaign and was able to provide the demo as a kind of incentive for backers to see what the product was about.
Other advice the panelists had included tapping into already existing audiences and connections.
Facebook was a viable tool for the companies to reach potential backers. By connecting with their Facebook followers and preexisting clients, GRAVE, Hypoxic and OBD Solutions were able to generate interest in their new products and Kickstarter campaigns.
“I think that’s really crucial to start off,” Moore said. “If you don’t have any audience, it’s going to be very difficult to get a Kickstarter to work.”
Beecham and Kirchenbaum voiced similar opinions, with Kirchenbaum adding that most of Hypoxic’s Kickstarter backing came from preexisting clients on direct mailing lists.
Once startups have raised awareness of their product and Kickstarter campaign, the next important step is to maintain connections with backers.
People expect companies to be on top of comments and questions, Beecham said, adding that his team spends six to eight hours a day answering comments and private questions from backers.
In regard to the trolls of the Kickstarter universe, Beecham said companies have to keep their cool and direct their attention to serious inquiries.
“It’s just like life,” Beecham said. “You can’t have people like that bring you down and you have to keep that in mind when you’re doing Kickstarter comments and questions.”
The next Lunch and Learn is on September 26 and will focus on how to build a brand and become an influencer. Attendees can register here.
*This article has been updated since it’s original post