Can you Kickstart your business idea to success?

23 May


At the beginning of the week the first full official trailer for “I wish I was here” was released.  The film, which will premier in July, has been funded by a hugely successful Kickstarter project.  The project gained 46,520 backers, exceeding its $2 million target by well over another million.



Writer and director Zach Braff has stayed in touch with his backers with regular email updates, including links to interesting content such as the movies soundtrack, they will get an invite to an exclusive online screening and a PDF of the script before its release date.

The whole online experience is one businesses should aspire to. Instead of ineffectively targeting a mass audience with behind the scenes clips Zach Braff has released so much content exclusively to his backers that they feel they are part of the project. The project’s backers have become more than loyal and engaged customers, they have become marketers of the film who share their experience online and with their friends.

But how does a Kickstarter project become so successful?

While it certainly helped that Zach Braff is already a famous actor and director, his Kickstarter success cannot be attributed to this alone. Music artist Bjork and Zosia Mamet, actress in HBO’s hit series Girls are among celebrities who have tried and failed.

The idea

Firstly, before you do anything online you have to have an idea that people actually want to see happen. It has to be unique, not a copycat idea. Check out the t-shirt below, if somebody actually wanted a t-shirt this cringey they could easily order one online.

Here’s another idea that simply doesn’t make sense…it looks like they have draped a necklace over a shoe and for a laugh decided to see if someone would be stupid enough to back it.


The Reward

Rewards are there to persuade people to back your project. People don’t give away their money for nothing, make it worth their while. Zach Braff’s rewards were great, his top backer who donated $10,000 will get to be a cast member, with a spoken line and star treatment, they’ll also get rewards given to other backers such as an invite and plus 1 to the premiere and afterparty, art prints, a t-shirt, soundtrack, production diary and script.

On the other hand Melissa Joan Hart (Sabrina the Teenage Witch actress) another celebrity who failed at her Kickstarter attempt, offered the reward for backers who contributed $300 that she would follow them on Twitter, a tad egotistical… I mean if she was in the league of Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie maybe this approach might have worked!

The video

Your video is your pitch, you have to engage with your audience quickly or they will hit stop and click on to the next project. This video is visual, comic and interesting the project gained over double the funds it required because people loved the idea and how it was presented.

The below video is an example of how not to promote your project. The video is dull and un-engaging from the offset so that you don’t want to watch more than a few seconds. Their idea might be useful but they need to quickly draw in their audience with the use of humour, shock or emotion.

Online promotion

Less than half of Kickstarter projects reach their target goal, and 12% don’t even manage to get one single backer, not even a sympathetic family member or loyal friend. Often Kickstarter will promote projects that are doing well as staff picks, you have to create your own support and following before you can feature here and hopefully get the backing of a wider audience.

Prior to launching your project on Kickstarter build awareness online, so that when your project goes live it will start gaining backers. You might think more funding time is better, but don’t want your Kickstarter project to be online too long, you want to create a sense of urgency. Kickstarter campaigns lasting for 30 days have around a 35% chance of success whereas campaigns lasting for 60 days have just a 29% chance of success. That’s why investing time and promotion prior the the launch is hugely important.

Create a blog for awareness, try to get others to feature it in their own blogs by guest blogging on a regular basis. Create a form to collect email addresses of people who are interested in your project, so that you can email them when you launch it on Kickstarter. Join niche interest forms on Reddit to engage with those who may be interested in backing you.

You have to be dedicated enough to plug your project constantly on your social channels and pester your friends into sharing as well. You have to create your own hype before your project will start to get noticed amongst the competition on Kickstarter. This is easier said than done though. Try creating a page on Facebook for your project and promoting it with targeted ads. If your project is to create an local art project for example target those in your area who enjoy art.

Kickstarter can be a great source for funding your project; especially if it’s something out of the ordinary, but you have to be prepared to put in the effort elsewhere online to make it work. Don’t forget to make it worthwhile for your backers also!


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