Why our first crowdfunding failed?

why crowd funding can and may fail

My personal belief is – that I don’t want to plan for failure because I will not fail.. But past experience didn’t agree with my belief sometimes. The start of every new thing is extremely chaotic – somewhere you will gain, somewhere you will loose. You will meet hundreds of people who would like to be your contributors, best buddies, co-founders, volunteers and you will have these one hundred coffee meetings with those people, but only 10% of them will actually mean and do what they are saying. But the stupid thing is – you have to have these hundred meetings, pitch in the meet ups to wider audiences for your own experiences and to get the feedback for your product. I promise there will always be some nasty-i-know-everything people who will point their bugger finger straight into your face and will say – I don’t get your product, it will never succeed etc. If they are willing to give you valuable feedback and criticism then you need those people as well – you have to ask them questions, why you don’t understand it, what can be done better, what is wrong with it etc. Those guys will give you some answers and view points you never could imagine off.

SO! One year ago we approached crowdfunding in FundedByMe with the motivated belief that money will fly into our pockets from unknown people as our projects is (obviously) the coolest and most innovative in the market, we tweeted, blogposted, made faceboking-liking, sending the link to all friends, bloggers and stalking people we don’t know to pay us some peso. Even chocolate-crunch cookies were made and we headed to the streets of Copenhagen and generously gave free-cookie to all people and told about our magazine. (TIP: don’t give free stuff to people on the streets, especially food – they will think they have to pay for it later, or they are poisoned or the cookie contains some magic plant which will make them dull so we can rob them afterwards or whatever..weird world we are living in)

That said – our crowdfunding failed and we didn’t get the exposure we wanted and we never found out what was the problem. Therefore, our project had to be self-funded and we blindly rejected any thoughts that campaign was unsuccessfully presented, we thought people just don’t have money nowadays, or our project is not ready to see the light, this is the fault of crowd-funding website we choose etc. Better blame someone not yourself, right?

Obviously, there is nothing wrong with people, us, funding website or what so ever. We looked back at our campaign and saw some issues:

  • We have an awesome video editor/director but our video communication was not self-explanatory (we stressed and we are not video people and damn, is it appropriate time for bad hair day?)
  • We didn’t have consistent communication between each other as co-founders and internal communication have never been made. Therefore our description of project is hard to understand and estimate

Video is crucial part of the crowdfunding, it have to be no longer then 1:30 sec. as people are not able to keep attention for more. The video have to speak! It have to tell the story and act as elevator pitch, the reason for raising money, and what people will get for this money. Very great explanatory video I came across is made by ColumnFive and I suggest you to see it before making ideas for video.

The other thing is that – NEVER consider making the crowd-funding on the run and as fast as possible, because you need money now and you are out of time. It will not work, you will just generate stress and low quality deliveries in your team. Build a strong communication and set the goals for crowdfunding, where do you want to go with it, what is important to achieve, which communication channels you will approach for going viral, which people will be in charge of what. You have to tweet, write, shout, scream your project 24/7, campaign can not have ‘holidays’. It is great to contact people with big networks, blogs and related interests to make them aware of the product, write to local newspapers and worldwide websites. Do not be shy to poke people you don’t know just search for approach as motivation you have.

And now I will say something from what you will loose the trust for me – we haven’t yet made the successful crowdfunding campaign, hehe. BUT! I can assure you that we are on our way and we are taking all of the previous mistakes into consideration. That said we will start our second crowd funding campaign very very soon and you can be a big part of it! ūüôā

Share your thoughts and experience about crowdfunding and what have to be done for it to succeed?

‘User experience’ for people who know what this term means

user experience, ux, ui, laur klein, measure, test, design, prototype, validate

If you are aware of Eric Ries and Lean Startup book, if the term MVP is nothing new for you then you know that terms user experience and testing are huge vehicles which moves your lean startup.

If you are a designer and ‘think’ that ui/ux is the same and something modern and you even put it in your title as ui/ux designer (Wow! you are so cool) and you ‘think’ it means something about design and photoshop and making cool dribbble pics, then freaking ¬†google it once more and be ashamed.

On one take of breath i have read ‘UX for Lean Startups’ by Laura Klein. And it gave me tremendous input on how and what have to be tested before implementing the real product. She has amazing sense of humour and is explaining you in motivational manner how to test your hypotheses, how and when to do qualitative prototype testing or A/B testing. It is definitely one of the books which have to be in your must-read shelf if you are an innovator, entrepreneur or building a product. Some proper and right testing now will save you time and money in the future and will help you to build the products your customers will love!

I already set some goals and plans on where and when the testing have to be made for our product and where it should have been made a while ago. I will be happy to share some results with you in a while.

What is your experience with testing the prototypes for your startup and how you gained from the results?

The bible of mine

every designer should know

Applause for my cute reading selfie and warmest salute to Susan M. Weinschenk, the author of ‘100 things every designer needs to know about people’ for giving so great value to not only designers but the everyone building the website, platform, product etc.

To jump away from my ‘normal’ routine I decided to stop for a while with reading boring business and entrepreneur books and choose to educate myself in a design side. I have read plenty of recommendations about this book as well I had a little chance to swipe through other Susan’s book ‘Neuro web design:What makes them click?’ one year ago, so I was bit familiar with her work on behavioral psychology. Hereby – everyone who is holding any kind of business which requires designing for web and social interactions with people SHOULD buy this book asap and include it in their library next to Steve Krug ‘Dont make me think’.

1

‘1oo things every designer needs to know about people’ will give fantastic value, will explain in detail how to attract people and focus them on particular parts of your website. It will give great understanding about people behavior in one or another situation and how to ‘read’ their choices. My favorite part is on how to motivate users – as it can be so frustrating to entrepreneurs to start interaction with users but seeing no activities from their side. For example, by posting any explanations on how to use the product, participate in competitions or generate any kind of new habit for users is a long process and they will not engage from the moment they say – I am in love with your product. The hard work is needed and no, the users are not dumb or lazy, it is you who can not give a proper explanation and give moving motivation.

That said, give this book as a Christmas present to friend of yours or yourself – you will not regret it!

Where to start?

startup, launch, start, new,

Background shortly:¬†Last year we (e.g. creative frontend developer with the dream of becoming a finger-pointing manager and ¬†multi-range designer with the dream to create her own job and do fun stuff after full-time work) started to create the big thoughts about our company creation. At that time we were driven by enthusiasm and sparkle of fall depression nowhere was found. ¬†The idea was to create the world’s first (and only at least for some time) magazine that travels from one reader to another, which is an innovation in publishing industry and educational inspiration giver to many. ‘Seriously We Think Free’ magazine idea was living in our heads long before but finally the time ¬†was to make it real.

As the people with no startup, publishing, management, business background what so ever, we didn’t know how to move away from our sketchbooks and notebooks to ‘iam-doin-business’ stage. We started inviting our friends who were more-less familiar with business development and asked in which direction to move to? Pretty fast we realized that we don’t have any documentation of business plan, vision, mission or some simple description of what is our concept (‘doh, we are creatives and developers and who needs business model’ – was our thought for a year!) Eeerrr, wrong! But this little detail didn’t stop us and we created our first ¬†project plan with the planned delivery of the first issue within couple months. The extreme enthusiasm is appropriate for entrepreneurs but that’s what makes it all so special – you just hit your head against the wall until you see some light and only then you know-you might be close to the start.

Of course we never delivered in these couple months deadline, because on our way we realized – we have no authors/writers/potential readers/printing agency/distribution plan/BUDGET! Our approach was to find the readers by using social media channels and explaining to people the concept, getting them interested and inspired, creating early adopters who would eventually popularize our magazine just because they will find it appealing. ¬†Of course the first ‘fan-base’ consisted from our friends and friend-friends, but we started disturbing the social channels, which was great.

Eventually many (read: boring) books were bought about starting the startups, management and business, many meetups and events were attended and finally we found out the direction and went ‘lean’ way. ¬†While building minimum viable product (MVP) we were searching for the ways to get the budget. The crowdfunding was our only hope which we knew (and you must agree – it seems so easy on Kickstarter ) and it was a failure. At the end there was nothing else left and we self-funded the magazine to finally release it after one year of pointing to plenty of directions and then somehow ‘faking’ our way to release. The launch party and magazine was taken with such a great positivism from all attendants and readers, we were amazingly tired but still enthusiastically inspired. And we are continuing building the MVP and ¬†spending all our evening and weekend time after full-time work and doing what we find so interesting to ourselves. Creating the startup is like going back to school but in the real world, daily you are finding out new things and learning something new and this cycle never ends.

Key takeaways:¬†1. if you don’t know where and how to start, then start somewhere and the task list will start growing.

2. Write some documentation of your business. Ideally it have to be business model with vision, short business description, plans about revenue channels, how to approach clients, which communication channels to use etc. As soon as you have an idea to ad something more – write it down in your business model and within some months it will start to look very decent and constructive.

3. Go Lean way! Don’t try to figure out all the details and possible failures ¬†at once – it is not possible. Build small, think big and improve step by step.

4. Search for institutions, entrepreneurs, advisors who may suggest you some ways on how to start your business. Write to them, talk to them and don’t be shy on the learning process. (In Copenhagen you are able attend free courses¬†and plenty of help)

I believe there are no strict rules of what have to be done first and what’s next, but there are many advises which can be given for each specific startup. It is your call – to take this advice seriously or trash it. ¬†If I would start creating my next startup now, then I would be smarter and more progressively moving forward, but if it would be another industry I know nothing about – then the struggling part would be the same.

What advices would you give from your experience on – how and where to start?

The first is out

Sir Justin Jackson is the one who inspired and encouraged me today to learn from the first attempt and make the second one better. He mastered it with his article and left me with full power woman posture, high raised head and straight spine, of course. Me and my great co-founder did incredible job in starting up the first issue of our collaborative magazine Seriously We Think Free – there were ups and downs and no knowledge at all on how to start the bloody startup. No matter how many books we have read and how many inspiring ¬†‘Start with why’ videos we have watched, it didn’t gave us all step-by-step start the startup manual until we tried it on our skin. And though very exhausted I am gratefully pleased with the result, experience, meeting fantastic team mates and listening to the feedback – good or bad it will make us improve. No matter what you have in mind, what interests drives, if you want to start something in the field you don’t know nothing about – do it! Try not only once, but try many times till you nail it! The feeling it will leave you with is great!