Besides actually coming up with a new product idea, figuring out how to fund it may just be the hardest part of an inventor’s job.
If you’re working with a company, you likely have a lot of help in that department. If you’re an independent inventor however, like many of the ones whom we help here at Pivot, you may have no one but yourself to rely on.
There are a few ways you can go about funding a project, but in this post we’re focusing on crowdfunding. There have been some amazingly successful crowdfunding campaigns for new products and designs over the years, and there’s something to learn from each of them.
While nothing can truly guarantee your campaign’s success—and you certainly don’t want to count on raising $2 million in a few months, like many of these campaigns did—hopefully you’ll get a few ideas on how to give yourself a better chance at raising the funds you need.
Solar Roadways’ Indiegogo campaign. Funds raised: $2.2 million
You probably remember Solar Roadways from their incredibly popular viral video, “Solar Freakin’ Roadways.” If you didn’t see it on your Facebook feed, you saw it on Twitter, or LinkedIn, or on YouTube’s homepage. While the appeal of Solar Roadways is based on its potential to solve all kinds of problems, from energy dependence to icy roads, it’s safe to say that the video was the game-changer. Without it, people might not have realized just how innovative the technology could be.
Takeaway: Don’t cut corners on your video. That may mean hiring someone else to make it for you—but if they do a great job, the payoff could far outweigh the cost.
The Coolest Cooler Kickstarter campaign. Funds raised: $13 million.
This rolling cooler has a built-in blender, USB port, waterproof speakers, and multiple other features—but in its very first iteration, the Coolest Cooler was nothing but a blender attached to a weed whacker engine. Inventor Ryan Grepper came up with the idea more than a decade ago, and his campaign to mass produce his creation earned the title of the highest-funded Kickstarter project ever in August of 2014. (It’s since been dethroned).
What’s interesting about the Coolest Cooler, though is that this was Grepper’s second campaign to fund the product. His first one failed due to multiple issues—he didn’t have a fully equipped prototype, for example, and he launched in December, rather than during the summer. But after regrouping, building out a fully functional prototype, and relaunching during a warmer month, he blew past his original goal.
Takeaway: If your first campaign fails, don’t assume that you can’t successfully crowdfund your idea. Just make sure you put in the time and effort to make it more successful the second time around.
Ouya videogame console Kickstarter campaign. Funds raised: $8.5 million
This open-source system was designed to make console videogames more accessible and affordable by allowing developers to create games for the television. Many developers are moving toward mobile and social games, because it’s cheaper and easier to develop for those mediums. The Ouya is cheap, easy to use, and since it uses open source Android technology, it’s easy to develop for.
Ouya really appealed to gamers with a fast-paced, hard-hitting video, but they also had some very cool perks at all donor levels. For example, for $10, you could reserve your username. It’s a simple thing, really, but it builds momentum for the project by creating the idea of scarcity. What if the username you want is taken before you get your Ouya? The strategy worked, because the Ouya team raised 904 percent of its original goal.
Takeaway: Get creative with your perks, at lower levels as well as higher ones.
A successful crowdfunding campaign takes a lot of work, but it can be a great way to start funding your product idea. Need help building a prototype? Need to work out some design flaws? Let Pivot help you make your crowdfunding efforts pay off!