Ed worked for an African Travel company for 6 years. He enjoyed it but was frustrated that he wasn’t building something for himself. This was not his baby he was nurturing, not his goal he was striving to achieve. He played around with a luxury nut business and a grow-your-own-mini-vegetables venture. Then he was knocked off his bike.
A problem had quite literally smacked him in the face and he wanted to find a way to solve it. Fleshy humans on flimsy bikes are no match for immovable vehicles, but share the road they must. And so he developed a bike light that not only helped drivers to notice cyclists, but gave them information about their width, distance and speed. Informed drivers are better drivers.
Like every other person that invents a cool new product, he entered it into the British Inventors Project. Unlike every other person, he made the final 20. This came as something of a surprise; his little side project now required his full time attention. Having plugged away alone before, and knowing how hard this can be, he put his feelers out for someone to help.
That’s where I come in.
I happened to be doing an epic 8 week stint at Escape the city. Ed burst in one day (his preferred method of entry), with the boundless enthusiasm of a man on a mission. As I used to run a cycle tour company, know intimately the perils of urban cycling, and am a big fan of startup life, Rob mentioned that I might be a sensible person to talk to. Ed’s enthusiasm was infectious and I readily agreed to come on board.
We are now poised on the edge of something very exciting
We thought it might be useful to share what we have learnt so far…
10 tips for making your Kickstarter campaign as successful as possible…
- Build a team. The difference between working alone and working with one other person is more significant than working in a team of 10. Alone there is limited opportunity for feedback and it takes exponentially longer for ideas to evolve.
- Get feedback from your friends and get them involved in small ways. If they feel they are part of something, they will be your biggest advocates.
- Use the tools available. As I mentioned in a previous Escape post, the startup hustle is made far more manageable with all the cool tools available online. We have used: Strikingly for building an awesome website; Yesware for scheduling emails and monitoring who has opened and replied; Kickstarter to (hopefully) raise funds; Thunderclap to generate hype, and Google drive for coordinating team effort.
- Make a (very long) list of relevant journalists and influencers. Note down what articles they have written and make them aware of your product with a short, relevant, personal message. Ed enlisted the help of two friends to do this. 5 days of work was reduced to 2.
- Again and again we have come across two golden rules that predict potential success of a Kickstarter campaign. 1) If you reach 30% of your funding target, you are exponentially more likely to be successful. 2) This must be achieved in the first 72 hours (we are seeking to raise £16k so we needed to hit £4,800 by next Friday. Fortunately it is Wednesday evening, and we are on £7000.).
- Be as clear as you can with your messaging on your website and Kickstarter. You do not want to be wasting time answering the same questions over and over.
- Something will inevitably go wrong. On the day the Kickstarter video was due we were informed that the guy producing it was not going to be able to deliver. We had to make the decision whether to throw more money at the problem. We had to find someone that would be able to deliver a great video in 2 days. It is wise to factor in a contingency budget.
- Do what you can in advance. 2 days before we pushed the Kickstarter live we were ready to go. Hundreds of emails were scheduled, the press had been informed and our Kickstarter had been approved. I in fact went to see my brother in Milan to wait out the calm before the storm.
We are 2 days in and our Kickstarter is going well, but of course that momentum could ebb at any time. We may be checking back in 2 weeks time with our tails very firmly between our legs. We hope not…
To find out more and pledge to get one of the first Commuter X4′s:
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What is Escape the City all about then?
Frustrated by climbing the corporate ladder, we decided to build a community to help people build meaningful careers doing work that matters – to them and to the world. We help talented people find fulfilling work by making big career changes, building businesses, & going on big adventures. We’d love you to come with us on this journey.
How do you get involved?
1. Job Seeker? Create an Escape Profile to get matched to exciting jobs.
2. Aspiring Career Changer / Entrepreneur? If you’re in London, come and see us at The Escape School.