(Originally published on betakit.com)
Despite popular belief (and what anomaly projects like Pebble and Neptune have lead us to believe), crowdfunding is not always the millionaire-maker, rainbows and unicorns experience you think it is. On the contrary, it’s an emotional rollercoaster that one needs to understand before undertaking such a project.
Luckily, you have me, and I’ve been through the trenches with a few of them. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes of a crowdfunding campaign that few know about (and Pebble and Neptune would never mention). Let’s go over a few highs and lows that an entrepreneur like yourself can look forward to once you press that “publish” button and unveil your idea to the world.
Your crowdfunding campaign will be the longest 30-45 days of your life
No, seriously. And you can’t manipulate time, no matter how hard you try. Think about the last purchase you put-off to the very last minute and stop and think why anyone else would be any different. On items that are ‘wants’ rather than ‘needs’, many people won’t pull the trigger until they perceive it to be the absolute last-minute. In other words, the money comes in waves.
The waves usually happen as follows: the first 30% will likely be from friends and family backing. This is followed by about 25% from early adopters who read about it from early-adopter targeted sites. After initial momentum, you can expect a brief lull, followed by another wave (this should hopefully bring campaign to 100% and above) from backer referrals generated by regular updates and online communication.
The waves also cause something else you should be prepared for…
A crowdfunding campaign is an emotional rollercoaster
Before you go “live,” make sure you have some solid people in your corner; the next 30-45 days are going to be one heck of a ride and you’re going to want to be surrounded by patient people. This is a broad claim, I know, so let me elaborate. In the last paragraph I spoke of the ‘waves’, but didn’t get into the details of what is going on behind the scenes during this time.
Regardless of how the campaign is going, you’re likely strategizing on how to ensure every resource is being maximized. If you’re nowhere near where you want to be, heads are likely going to roll. Whereas, if at this point you’re doing well, you’re still wondering what can be done to make things better. Touch-up the video for the millionth time? Maybe add another stretch goal? Maybe send another grovel-filled email to your backers? Check, check, and check. But you’re still going to feel pressure. Just make sure you’re taking deep breaths and listening to the right people when you need answers.
Which brings us to the next hurdle…
Crowdfunding campaigns are filled with misguided ‘help’
Earlier we talked about the funding coming in waves, but you might be thinking, “Hey, a guy made a fortune asking for help to make potato salad.” Yes, that happened, but this is one crazy exception to the rule. Keep in mind that you are asking strangers to give you money for an unproven concept from someone without a track record. So, if you’re at 50% of your goal after a few days, you’re in GREAT SHAPE!
Your older brother will remind you about the potato salad guy and get you worked up and worried, but remember that, though wise in his own right, he is likely not a crowdfunding expert. Your cousin might suggest you commission a new video two weeks in. Again, she doesn’t know how this works. Before you panic, speak to some people who’ve done this before; they’ll provide a dose of reality and guidance.
The point is to ensure that you and your team are equipped to handle everything that could possibly pop-up. Be prepared to take everything else in stride.