Kickstarter campaigns are almost as ubiquitous as wet weather here in Seattle, so it can be difficult for even good campaigns to get noticed. Despite that, Seattle entrepreneur Mina Yoo managed not only to get her invention the $20,000 in startup funding it needed to head to the manufacturer, she also met her Kickstarter goal in six days. The inventor of a device that she describes at the "Swiss Army knife of carabiners" is now on to a “stretch” goal of $50,000, with 36 days left in the campaign.
She took a moment to share her thoughts on the work that went into the campaign before it launched and how she got noticed amid the noise.
What did you do to promote the campaign, and of your promotional techniques, which ones worked the best?
I tried to build a network of supporters before we launched and get feedback from camping and gear experts as well. Sending people samples was by far the best thing I did. People really notice the value of the product when they get to try it for themselves and actually use it. Many of these people went on to write product reviews, which helped generate excitement and build credibility for the Qlipter.
What are the three most important things someone can do when preparing to launch a Kickstarter campaign?
Begin forming a network of supporters as soon as you can, whether it is on your blog, prefundia.com or other social media channels.
Get your own personal network involved. I had a group of people that I had been tapping to get feedback on the product since when it was just a 3-D printed model without a name. When the product became a reality, these people were very invested in it and acted as the most ardent champions in promoting my product.
Lastly, get reviewers involved. I think assessments from independent third parties add a lot of credibility to your product, especially a brand new one that no one has ever heard of.
Now that you’ve raised your goal, what will be the biggest challenges in fulfilling your promises to your backers? How will you avoid falling into the post-Kickstarter disappearing act?
We are definitely not going to become a statistic. We waited until we had our manufacturing in place — which took almost a year — before starting our campaign so that we would not put our backers through uncertainty and delays. We've had three sets of samples made, tested and modified when needed. Our packaging is not quite finalized, but we have prototypes. Finally, we are committed to not allowing "feature creep" to derail us and keep us from delivering our already awesome product to our loyal backers.
Washington state just passed a law that will allow companies to raise equity using crowdsourcing models like Kickstarter. Is that something you’d consider in the future, once the rules are in place?
I think that as a general matter of principle, it is a good idea because it will allow entrepreneurs to more easily access investors who may not be accessible through their personal networks. What really matters for the Qlipter team is finding partners with the same vision and passion as we have for our product as well as the ability to provide guidance and expertise when we need them. If these can be assessed through a crowdsourcing model for equity, I would definitely consider it.
Emily Parkhurst is the managing editor for the Puget Sound Business Journal.