Mark Burginger, the creator of Qubits Toy with an appearance on ABC Shark Tank, has a great product and some momentum behind him. On the surface, his new Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign is touching all the bases with a working product, video, intriguing backstory, some recent media coverage, support from friends, and contributions from the general pubic early in the campaign cycle.
Like many Do-It-Yourself practitioners (DIYers), Mark is relatively new to crowdfunding and admits he’s not a professional marketer. He also has a busy life as an accomplished architect, family and recent move from Oregon to Florida. But Mark is a hardworking entrepreneur with a history of Qubits sales and a 2.0 strategy that includes high-quality, affordable manufacturing in the United States right in NASA’s backyard where suppliers are getting creative to stay in business.
Campaign Assessment to Date
I talked with Mark last week about what he believes is working to move his Qubits campaign toward a successful outcome. We also candidly discussed some areas that should have been addressed before launch and needed improvement.
Here’s a checklist organized by strengths and weaknesses at the time of the campaign launch in January:
- Design, animation and prototype work to present the Qubits 2.0 product via the campaign and prepare for manufacturing
- Initial content drafts for various websites, social channels and email outreach
- Some traditional media outreach early in the campaign that generated coverage in the Orlando Sentinel and Seminole Chronicle daily papers
- Some outreach to friends and bloggers that generated posts, contributions, social sharing and traffic as seen below in these two charts:
- The initial video was not ideal for a crowdfunding pitch; content was not clear, audio was too low and Mark was not present in the original video. (An updated video now addresses these issues.)
- Initial campaign content included typos and read like a draft
- Not enough outreach to relevant bloggers and traditional media before the campaign launched (this is difficult to do)
Orchestrate Community Engagement, Early
It’s fair to say that crowdfunding campaigns operate in real-time with tweaking throughout the campaign based on feedback from the community, lack of action or results, and some experimentation. But many crowdfunding campaigns fail or don’t perform as well as they could because of a lack of advance planning from a go-to-market perspective. Further, many DIYers operate on shoestring budgets or choose to cut corners in critical areas like video production, PR strategy, and media research and engagement.
With the increasing number of crowdfunding campaigns on the web – each one needs to stand out and this often requires outside experts in their fields to help with campaign planning and execution.
The Qubits campaign received support from a number of entrepreneurs and Shark Tank contestants including Rebecca Rescate of CitiKitty, Daniel Rensing of The Smart Baker, Steve Gadlin of I Want to Draw a Cat for You, Gary Gagnon of ReKixx, Kelly Lambrakis of Funny Face Friends, James Russell of Aqua Fire Pit, and Robert Merlino of Shark Tank Blog. This was a result of established relationships and engagement via a private Shark Tank Entrepreneurs group on Facebook. Birds of a feather flock together.
$100,000 in 10 Days?
Not yet for Qubits. But Tim Ferriss, author of "The 4-Hour Workweek", and Mike Del Ponte, co-founder of a new consumer product called Soma, recently blogged about Mike’s very successful Kickstarter campaign that raised nearly $150,000 and concluded on January 11. This particular campaign was one of the fastest on record to receive $100,000 in 10 days.
A post by Mike and Tim provide a wealth of tips, best practices and free templates for downloading – highly recommended for crowdfunding campaings on any platform. I won't repeat their content here, but want to share a few takeaways from Soma’s success and other campaign experience:
- Create an exceptional product and story around it.
- Be proactive and do heavy lifting before the campaign goes live.
- Empower people and make it easy for them to share and support the campaign.
It’s possible the Qubits campaign will generate $100,000 of contributions (pre-orders) in the month remaining from publication of this article. This possibility is what makes crowdfunding so exciting for entrepreneurs and fun for supporters to watch from the sidelines.
Whether or not Mark achieves the $9,000 goal, his team will move forward with plans to start production of Qubits 2.0 in February 2013. Let’s have some fun!