What's the best way to utilize events during a campaign?
You could set up a handful of laptops at a table to encourage on-site voting, but not sure how well that would work if you have a bunch of people in the room that have never used Kickstarter before. Not sure they'd be super comfortable signing up and entering their CC number, etc. on an unknown computer in a room full of strangers.Alternatively, you could print out postcards that have some promo art on one side, and the campaign url on the back. My suggestion for this would be to pay the nominal fee to buy a .com domain, and have it forward to your campaign page. That way, you can write www.mycampaignamehere.com, rather than www.kickstarter.com/somelongthingiwillneverremember
I am nervous about sharing my idea without a patent. Have others used this site without a patent?
First things first. The internet and Google are wonderful tools to find out everything you need to know. If you are even asking this question, it tells me you have not spent the time to research your questions. The more you research and learn, the more you will understand the risks involved with becoming an entrepreneur. Before you spend any money, research your idea and make sure it's original and has not been done before. Is your idea patentable? Understand the difference between design patents and utility patents. Ideas are not patentable - but the product you create to solve the problem and how it works is. Only good ideas are worth ripping off so how do you know if you have a good idea or product? Kickstarter is a great place to find out if there is interest in your creation. Kickstarter is also a great place for competitors to look for new products and innovations they can copy. We have our Skoother Skin Smoother campaign running and have been contacted by at least a dozen Chinese factories that want to do our tooling and manufacturing for us. How many others have seen our campaign and have not contacted us? Domestic and foreign companies scour Kickstarter looking for new ideas. This can be good and bad for your goals. If you have no intellectual property protection, these companies are free to steal your idea. If you do have a patent pending, you may get large companies contacting you to license the exclusive rights to your product and pay you royalties. "Patent Pending" will also scare and deter other companies from copying you. Exposing your idea on Kickstarter is exposing your invention to the world and so you should be prepared. You want to always limit how much risk you take, both financial and how much work and time you put into it. A simple U.S. utility patent will cost usually between $6,000 - $8,000. That's a big risk to take on for an unproven idea! A good strategy is to write a "provisional patent application" yourself. $125. This is a temporary application that last for one year from the time you file it with the USPTO. This application does not need to be written by a professional. You need to explain very clearly, with as much detail as possible with illustrations, photos and descriptions your invention. Show what it looks like, exactly how it works and any other variations of it you can think of. This basically reserves your idea at the USPTO and gives you one year to file an actual utility patent application. The provisional application is your "first to file" protection you need from the USTPO. So you have a choice; You can forget all of the intellectual property protection and just try to make a quick buck from your Kickstarter campaign...or, you can file a provisional patent application for $125, (which makes it legally "patent pending") and then show the world your invention. If your creation proves successful, you can then go ahead and invest in the full utility patent application. You then have a choice of licensing your invention or starting your own company so you can have it manufactured and market it yourself. But...if your brilliant idea is a flop, you've only lost the $125 for the provisional along with the time and cost of your campaign. It's all about risk, and knowledge will always lesson your risk. Learn about patents, look for similar ideas or products. Is there a big enough market for your product and can it be manufactured at a cost that will be at least 1/5th of the estimated retail price? Look up invention sites and advice but beware, most all of them want money from you. So research, research, research yourself! And remember, if your Kickstarter campaign does not succeed, it is not a failure. It is a lesson learned to be applied to your next great idea. The only way you fail is to never take a risk in the first place!Best of luck and never give up! - Scott Comstock/ TheInventionBrothers.com
THE INVENTION BROTHERS.com
What is the best way to drive traffic from within Kickstarter?
I've had three successful projects that were buried in the stacks and stacks of projects. I would love to make staff pick, as well. If backers can't see the project, they are unlikely to back it, after all! Here are my suggestions: Updates at least once a week, even if there isn't any activity. Keep them positive and talk about how great your product is. Have a finished project/prototype for people to see. My videos are rough, but they definitely aren't photoshopped! I'm not a big fan of buying social media likes. Keep the features to three points. It seems more realistic and pragmatic. Above all be cheery and respectful in all messages to backers. That doesn't mean caving into every suggestion, but thanking them for the time and suggestions.I try to make every project something that I would personally pay money for. Much better than trying to build a project that is going to net $1M on KS. :)Have a great day!
Do you thank your backers the moment they back you? Or is that too spammy?
Personally, I do not; because if my campaign is very successful and I get a lot of backers, I'm going to be spending so much time sending individual thank you notes that I won't have any time left to manage other aspects of the campaign, much less work on the project that I'm supposed to complete. Instead, whenever there is occasion for an update or I am answering a question from someone who has already backed me, I make sure to say "Thank you for your support!" In the latter case, I'm already communicating with them so it's not spammy or extra work to add my thanks, and in the former I'm theoretically reaching everyone with just one message.
Help with shipping costs!
The method of shipping that you use should be determined by the size and weight of whatever it is you're shipping and how much packaging material you're going to need to give it a reasonable chance of arriving safely. The resulting cost is whatever it is. If it's too small to fit comfortably in a Priority Mail Small Flat Rate Box, don't try to force it just so you can keep the cost of postage down. Your backers are just going to have to pay whatever is necessary to pay to cover your cost.That being said, keep in mind that USPS' Flat Rate Boxes are not always your best value. Depending on how much the package weighs and where it's going, USPS' weight-and-distance-based rate may well be cheaper. Don't buy into USPS' "If it fits it ships" line without question, because you may pay more than you need to pay. If you're shipping something that weighs less than 1 pound, no way no how should you use Priority Mail; use First Class Package instead.Also, if you're going to handle fulfillment yourself, look into services that will give you a discount from USPS' over-the-counter prices. PayPal has such a service (although it's hard to find); I also use a service called Shippo that offers pretty good rates.
How can a Kickstarter success be translated into sales when your project is complete?
I think a post campaign sales strategy is very important. For me, Kickstarter has always been used to pay for production. It's the sales after where I start making a profit. It is important to start thinking about it well before your campaign has launched. Who are the distributors that deal in your product, are there any local stores that would be interested, and what kind of trade shows can you attend to promote it?
Paul Roman Martinez
PR: What moved the needle, what didn't, what did it cost?
This is an aspect of crowd funding I didn't consider and found to be a bit unnerving. The amount of spam in my inbox here and through my website was overwhelming. I have not felt the need to risk the cost against what i see as unrealistic promises and predatory business practices. When a company makes claims to get you funded that include things like product placement, top billing on popular blogs or getting you on national news, for a free or tiered fees, I say, walk away. The commercial industry is definitely shifting and while this forum is a fantastic way to network and grow, it is important to remember those things happen whether or not you roll the dice on a PR/Marketing firm, use cheap apps to spam your own contacts, or actually reach your goal. there. my two cents. it's been an interesting learning experience so far ;)