The Slovenian Guide to Kickstarter Success
If you’ve seen me around town recently on a skiro, zooming from one meeting to the next, looking very silly (it is impossible for a grown person to look cool while riding a skiro, but it’s still a great way to travel), it’s because I’m testing an impressive Slovenian invention, the Rolljet scooter, part of a consulting project with the company that produces it. It was initially designed to help school children, who in Slovenia seem to carry ridiculously oversized backpacks, so full of books that it looks like they could fall over backwards if a strong wind hit them. These orjaski ruksaki certainly can’t be good for the spine. The three-wheeled scooter has a removable backpack that attaches to it, so the scooter bears the weight of the bag, instead of your back. Perhaps it’s no surprise that this company’s other product is the SpinaliS chair, which helps prevent back pain caused by sitting too long, as it has a wiggly seat that replicates sitting on an exercise ball. But I took one look at the Rolljet for kids, and wanted one for myself—preferably not in pink, and with a more business-oriented attached backpack, of course. Last week I managed to hop on the train with it, scoot to four different meetings around Ljubljana, and scoot back home, feeling a little bit silly, but having lots of fun and thinking that scooting is the better way to travel.
Most of all, I’m delighted to support a Slovenian invention.
Slovenes have come up with some hugely impressive, clever products. I wrote about Slovenian inventors about a year ago, but lately I’ve been focusing on the objects themselves. I periodically am asked to consult on projects or products, and sometimes on how to succeed in Kickstarter campaigns. It’s a special treat for someone like me, who spends most days at home, alone, writing, to meet interesting locals and collaborate on exciting new projects. But most of all, I like helping Slovenian projects to succeed.
Take my kitchen, as an example of a testing ground for Slovenian ingenuity. There’s an Ironate cast-iron pan with a cast-iron top. You heat the pan and the top on the stove until they are scorching hot, then you can actually cook a pizza in the pan, with the top on, heating from above and below, in less than three minutes, replicating a super-hot oven. The best inventions are usually the simplest, and this one is wonderfully analog and straightforward. Beside it, there’s a Gina coffee maker (which prepares coffee in three different ways, with a smartphone app to help you get it just right) and a goat-horn shaped Goat Story travel mug, in which I like to drink Slovenian-roasted coffees from Crno Zrno (which is about to launch a subscription coffee service, mailing you a new, fresh batch of coffee every month) and Escobar—not to mention that my fridge is full of Kamnik-brewed beers, like Mali Grad, Maister and Perun. Also in my kitchen, there’s an issue of Plugin Magazine, which specializes in electric and hybrid cars, and is sold in 32 countries, but which is written and published here in Slovenia. There’s a Tungaj Transformer, which is supposed to neutralize the bad radiation from digital gadgetry, and an ELF emmit, which is meant to encourage my brain to behave in the way I’d prefer—if I want to go to bed, it helps the brain into sleep mode, if I want to concentrate, it helps me do so. And those are just what I happen to be able to see from the bar stool in my kitchen, where I’m writing this.
Kickstarter and Indiegogo remain the best ways for Slovenian inventions to get funding. But whether or not a project needs start-up capital, Kickstarter is the best way to get noticed. Kickstarter offers the world’s best free publicity, as hundreds of influencers, bloggers and journalists keep an eye on these crowd-funding sites and eagerly write about anything interesting they see there. For publicity reasons alone, in addition to acquiring capital, I always recommend a crowd-funding campaign, to suddenly alert hundreds of thousands of people, around the world, about your product. Not only are these crowd-funding sites free to use, but hundreds of people actually give you money to support your projects. It’s a pretty amazing thing.
So if you have a great idea, try it out on Kickstarter. One of the projects on which I consulted also worked with the most successful PR company in the world for Kickstarter projects, Agency 2.0, so I was able to learn what they do to achieve such success. Here are a few tricks to get you started!.
-Kickstarter is more successful than Indiegogo, but both are good choices, with similar high visibility. Indiegogo is open to anyone in the world, for any sort of project or product. Kickstarter is more restrictive: Your project or product has to fit one of their official categories (they do not, for instance, allow any medical or health projects), and you need to have a bank account in one of the countries in which they operate (they do not operate in Slovenia or Austria, for example, so you need to find a colleague in the US or UK who will sponsor the project).
-There is relatively little text in a good Kickstarter project, but it must be carefully written. Infographics and fun, high-quality photos (with the light being what distinguishes professional photography from homemade snapshots) are key. Most people scan Kickstarter pages quickly and need to understand a project through photos, headlines and infographics. Only if they are really interested, will they actually read all the text.
-The most important aspect of the project is the short video (2-3 minutes maximum), and within the first 15 seconds viewers need to learn everything they need to know about the product—unless it really interests them, they will not watch more than 15 seconds.
-Indiegogo projects keep any money they earn, even if they don’t make their goal. Kickstarter projects only keep the money if their goal is made. It’s a good idea to have the lowest possible goal that still allows you to make your project a reality. Most projects either raise almost no money, and fail, or make much more than the goal. If people see that you’ve raised 100% of what you hoped to, they assume the project must be great, and are encouraged to donate to it. Thus, most projects are either complete failures or huge successes. There is little in between.
-It’s worth trying crowd-funding because, if it’s a success, that’s great, but if it fails…well, no one really pays attention to projects that don’t succeed, and they forget about them quickly, so there is little risk or embarrassment if it doesn’t work out.