Turn Your Idea Into Reality With Kickstarter [Chills 29]
Have you ever bought something from a Kickstarter campaign? The increasing popularity of crowdfunding has led to many ingenious ideas becoming reality while consumers are spoilt for choice and they get to enjoy discounts on their shopping too. It is indeed a win-win for everyone. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need a large capital to launch a Kickstarter campaign. In fact, Ryan thinks you only need about $2000. How is that possible? What does it take for a Kickstarter campaign to become successful? Go behind the (Kickstarter) scenes in Chills 29 as Reggie and Ryan (a Kickstarter veteran) elaborate on what you need to do to launch your own Kickstarter campaign!
Follow Reggie’s pseudo Kickstarter journey as he plans to embark on his original idea of selling phone covers made of mycelium (part of a mushroom). With Ryan’s expert guidance, he advises Reggie on how to begin: getting validation from the idea, choosing a suitable factory to make the product prototype, pre-marketing of the product and more. With the work put in even before the campaign launch, it’s no wonder Ryan said “you gotta be successful even before you press the launch button”.
It’s finally launch time! Things are getting more exciting as the clock is ticking on Reggie’s Kickstarter campaign. What’s the ideal duration of a Kickstarter campaign? How can we capitalize on stretch goals? What do we do when the campaign ends? Through Chills 29, listeners will gain insights into the workings behind a Kickstarter campaign and who knows, you might create your own campaign after this episode!
Reggie: Kickstarter, or broadly known as crowdfunding, is a huge thing in many parts of the world especially in the US, where people come together to fund projects and ideas to make it work. All sorts of stuff come out from such a process from wallets to bags, board games to books. I personally have funded an earpiece… erm not that great lah, but that’s personal experience.
What is important is that I’m sure many of you guys have funded some sort of Kickstarter project or at least funded some sort of project. But our guest for today has created waves in the Kickstarter space in Singapore and beyond and he told me at the bare minimum, you can use about $2000 to go from start… like idea start to finish product. Not too bad, pretty interesting. I think many of us can consider using crowdfunding to embark on our next big idea or side hustle.
Expand Full Transcript
Welcome to another Chills with TFC session. In this series, we want to bring up interesting, relevant people to understand better from various perspectives. Life is not always about learning from people that you already agree with. Perspectives shape a rounder thinker. So in our pursuit of the life we love while managing our finances well, our guest today was one of the founders of We The People. I’m sure you’ve explored their store. We The People… they are around many different places and they even expanded to the US. But sadly, they have been impacted by Covid and ended their journey. But he has moved on to another Kickstarter project. As if there’s nothing else to do, right?
But to him, it’s actually the easiest way to get started with the least amount of resources. So I had to bring him on to share his journey, his Kickstarter system and find out why after closing a business so connected to Kickstarter, he has to go back at it again. So join me to figure out the power of crowdfunding with Ryan Sim! Before all his entrepreneurial journey, he’s actually my army mate. So we know all the lame side of each other. But yes, enjoy your time together with us. Welcome back.
If we look at Kickstarter as a medium of launching something… maybe you want to do your own project. You want to start something. What is the kind of practices that we need to have, or who should start a Kickstarter in that sense?
Ryan: I guess it’s anyone with…
Reggie: Influencer! Anyone that is an influencer.
Ryan: Well… that might or may not be good enough? I have a story about that.
Reggie: Tell us, tell us!
Ryan: Oh! This might be a bit difficult. How about this? I’m not gonna name names.
Reggie: Don’t name names. Describe it a little bit more.
Ryan: So maybe about two years ago, quite a large name in Mediacorp came to us and he wanted to start a Kickstarter campaign. He wanted to launch a project, except that it was going to be number one, in Mandarin.
Ryan: And number two, it was going to be a book. So this is like all these specific already… can’t go so far anymore.
Reggie: Cannot go further already.
Ryan: Cannot go further already. So anyway…
Reggie: Is the book about pictures?
Ryan: Erm yah?
Reggie: Okay cannot go further already. Enough enough.
Ryan: So we did explain the success rate and all that. It was going to be difficult. And we wanted to make it happen any way. We wanted to try. But end of the day, we decided to… I don’t think this is going to work out because the target market is super wrong. Even with all the star power he had, I don’t think it was gonna work out. And we also said “maybe don’t do it” because it’s not going to look really nice for your star power per se.
Yes. So anyway, back to the question. Who should start a Kickstarter? Anyone can do it. Just maybe run the idea with a couple of your friends in different industries first. Maybe if you get… out of 10 people, seven of them say “yeah, that’s kinda cool”. Maybe you can move up from there, but to be very specific when and who should?
It’s when you have that moment, that Eureka moment, when you see a problem and you’re like “oh my god, I have the solution! I know how I can make this happen. I know I can fix this.” If there was ever a time in your life when you saw something at home that was just not working out for you or just frustrated you and you devise a simple solution or maybe an attachment to something else that made your life much easier, and you really liked it… that is what Kickstarter is about. You’re taking the idea and putting it in mass market. So if you ever felt that way before, that’s something you can go on.
Yeah, that is the kind of person you need to be. You need to be someone that identifies potential solutions to problems that no one has seen and try to make those solutions in, at least in a physical form. Because when it comes to Kickstarter or most rewards-based crowdfunding, it’s always tangible products, the ones that sell whereas… you can launch an app and stuff like that, but Kickstarter will not be the right platform because people on Kickstarter, they expect something physical in return. Yes.
Reggie: This is the reality of the market, right?
Ryan: Yes, that’s right.
Reggie: So then exactly like what you said, if you have a problem and you figure a solution and then you wanna launch a Kickstarter project, but why Kickstarter project then? You know I could just do it on my own. I could run an e-commerce site. I could do small-scale manufacturing and then do something on those grounds. Why should I do Kickstarter?
Ryan: This is my favorite question. Like literally. Let’s take a journey into the past. Let’s go back 20 years. 20 years was when? 1990s… erm, that’s not 1990s, it’s 2000s. Why am I… around the 90s and the 2000s, right?
Reggie: Because you canceled last year, so you forgot which year are we in.
Ryan: That’s true!
Reggie & Ryan: It’s like ada ada? What happened? Where am I? What’s going on? 什么事 (What happened?)”
Ryan: So let’s go back a couple of years, right? 20 years ago, crowdfunding wasn’t a thing. There was no such thing and… let’s do an experiment. 20, 30 years ago, you want to start a headphone cover business. You have your own special designs or maybe your cases are really sustainable or what have you and you wanted to make this happen. You want to make this a thing.
What was the first thing you needed to think of? Money. To make money, you needed money, which is the biggest barrier. This is where most people fall off the curve because they don’t have the money to meet the money and this is where all great ideas, a lot of great ideas go to die and disappear. That’s a sad thing. The next thing is okay, what if you did have the money? Having the money does not guarantee having validation. How do you know… after you make this thing, you spend the money to manufacture all these headphone cases that you think will sell and actually no one buys them? Whose fault is that?
That’s the thing: you never know. So it’s not yourself to blame, but it’s just how the world is and if you have limited resources and you’re just starting out, not everything is easy for you. You don’t have a distribution line ready for you and stuff like that. So the risks, inherent risk factors (was) extremely high last time. You could lose quite a bit… money, time, your mentality, your sanity.
Reggie: All the entrepreneur stuff…
Ryan: Yes yes… go through that style. It was a really old testament. Today, 30 years later, the appearance of Kickstarter, Indiegogo and other crowdfunding platforms, that kind of changes the whole industry. The whole landscape changes. Now, all you need is an idea, a couple of dollars and big enough passion to push forward. Actually, passion is your biggest fueling energy already. So what happens now is all you need to do… remember the headphone cover? Let’s go back to the handphone cover example again.
Just make one. Instead of manufacturing a thousand pieces, cause that’s what the manufacturers can tell you to do, just make one prototype sample which is going to cost you $50… expensive to make one because it’s a sample. Make one, photograph it, video it, put up some content and this is when you need to start creating your Kickstarter pitch.
So on your Kickstarter pitch, what you need to do is tell your audiences, sell… tell the products to your audiences. Tell them “okay guys, this is my idea. I want to launch this because I think iPhones never had something like this before”…
Ryan: Mycelium is made of mushrooms.
Reggie: It’s made of mushrooms.
Ryan: It’s made of mushrooms. It’s biodegradable and there’s a nice smell.
Reggie: By the way, if someone actually produced mycelium phone covers, contact us. I’m happy to help you do a shout out.
Ryan: I think have. Later we can Google something called organoids or something like that.
Reggie: That’s cool.
Ryan: So with this idea and you already have your costs and all that, put up a campaign on Kickstarter and tell people that “hey guys, I need to raise X amount dollars.” Let’s say you need $5000. Let’s say the manufacturer tells you “hey Ryan, if you want to make this happen, one batch… minimum you need to produce is 100 pieces or 1000 pieces.” Let’s say you need to produce 1000 pieces and that cost is $5,000. So that means you will need to raise a minimum of $5,000 for this to happen.
Reggie: Is that how I set my Kickstarter goals? Is that kind of…
Ryan: Yes, you’re on the right path there. Correct. The first thing you need to think about is MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity).
Reggie: Walk me through this process. So I have an idea and I talked to some friends, I validate within my social circle. That’s what you said, right?
Ryan: Yes, that’s right.
Reggie: So then after… that means among 10 friends, 7 friends say okay, and let’s go. Let’s go with this. And then we’ll double down, go and try to find some sort of prototype that can make this happen, and then we go on to Kickstarter and we set a campaign target and this target should be based off that minimum order…
Reggie: … of that thing.
Ryan: Of the factory. The factory tells you “okay, you need to make minimum $5000 worth of this.
Reggie: Who should I choose, in terms of my factory partner? How do I know that these guys are good to work with you? You know what I mean?
Ryan: Oh, okay. So in a nutshell, maybe when you’re looking for manufacturers, most of the time you’ll be looking at Alibaba first? Mostly Alibaba, right?
Reggie: Yeah exactly.
Ryan: That’s where all the manufacturers are. Find 3-5 of them. Talk to all of them. Eventually… a few things I base my interactions off is how fast do they communicate? Do they offer extra thought input into my design? Do they give me suggestions?
Reggie: When you say extra, I be like “extra? What extra?”… thought input.
Ryan: Design input and how fast they get back to you. So it’s all really communication and that’s something that is intangible. It’s something that you will feel. So talk to all 5. You will get a very big scale. Some of them just want to close the deal now, now, now. Some of them are moderately patient like “hey, okay. Let me help you out. Let me talk to my sensei. He will tell you maybe this can work or this one cannot work”, or they will offer you different materials, stuff like that, so on and so forth. They’ll show you the credentials and stuff like that.
So of course look at credentials, but also give chance to the smaller players. But at the same time, I think I rank communication number one. That means… you will feel this. I can’t really explain this. Once you start talking to them, you understand whether you feel comfortable with this person. Number two, credentials. Number three, price.
Why… strange that I put price at the third one, right? So experience tells me that price is not always everything. Yes, while let’s say one of them quotes you a one hand phone cover… one piece is… let’s say $2, and another one calls you $0.90. You’ll be like “oh my god. I could save $1.10.” So if I make 5000 pieces, I’m saving a lot of money. That’s not exactly the case because the case could break.
There are many factors going through this. You must think about the supply chain for them as well. Why… how come their prices are so low? Is it workmanship? Somewhere, they’re cutting corners somewhere. Figure that out. Is it the smaller factory that’s charging more or the bigger factory charging more? That will give you different answers. Maybe the bigger factory has the proper procedure. So that means when you manufactured this at $2, you’re going to get something solid. For sure. Backed up.
Maybe $2 comes with the insurance as well. That means… let’s say they make all these pieces… 1000 pieces, and if they say “oh, if it screws up, if there’s a problem with shipping, or if half of them are not working properly, I’ll make some more and send it to you.”
Reggie: And all these need to be communicated.
Ryan: All these need to be communicated.
Reggie: So when you talk to them, you can…
Ryan: … ask them these questions.
Reggie: Okay, okay.
Ryan: Because there is always a chance at scale… when you do things at scale, higher chances of failure will happen, right? The cover just disintegrates, or it’s bent or…
Reggie: I’ll feel very sad if my cover disintegrates.
Ryan: Yah, the mould is different, the mould is different. Or it grows mold, who knows right? So a thousand things can go wrong and you will know. So the cheapest one is not always the best option, so I’ll probably go somewhere in between, something that you’re comfortable with in between communication and price point.
Reggie: Okay, okay. Help us understand a little bit about mould. So this is something that a lot of people… I think if they don’t produce their own product, they don’t understand. Because like what you said, if this guy is a first time starting, all about passion, but they don’t understand this thing called the mould.
So if you are using a OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) kind of thing where the mould is generic then it’s much cheaper, right? But if someone (is) very passionate and say “I must have it this way.”
Reggie: Paint us a picture, how does that look like?
Ryan: Oh okay yeah. That’s a fine… I never got asked this question before. Okay. To save everyone listening to the trouble of Googling, let’s do a comparison between the mould of an iPhone versus the mould of iPhone cover. Mould is basically how manufacturer produces amass, so they can put their designs into this one machine. One machine will just clamp down on the… all the, let’s say the PVC material or metal, whatever. Just clamp it down, it forms into the shape and once it releases, that’s done. Product is done.
So for your phone cover, how many pieces are there? One, it’s one piece. So in terms of complexity to make one piece, it’s pretty okay. Maybe they make one or two samples and then you’ll find… they’ll get it in the third sample. So it’s quite fast to make that. It’s quite straightforward and dimensions already exist online. They just have to follow that dimension. So for him, okay, this is really easy. So I’ll charge cheaply.
Let’s compare it to now the iPhone. Let’s say the iPhone hasn’t existed yet, for example. So it’s an entirely new kind of thing. How many pieces to make an iPhone? How many things go in? You have the cover…
Reggie: Don’t know man, no idea.
Ryan: You have the front cover, the back cover, some components inside. Different housing parts to house different parts, right? Maybe I think the iPhone has about… oh, I have no idea man. It could be like from like 3 – 20? So something like that and the size, precision… basically how smooth it’s going to be? These all go into the price as well. So basically the more mold… more pieces you need to make this thing, the more expensive it’s going to be because they have to make all those things. Each mould can cost you X amount of dollars… sorry, it’s not dollars, it’s in the hundreds and thousands of dollars.
Ryan: I had a client last time. He wanted to make a pump for automated plant watering machine. It literally just looks like a square box, with maybe three to four other mould pieces inside. He had to pay $13 000.
Ryan: For his mould. $13 000. Eventually his campaign did not go well. It failed, but it was lucky because if he made it successful, he would have lost money. It was very expensive. So that is mould.
Reggie: Okay. So then when you say the campaign failed… so like you said, like most of the projects for first-timers, they don’t do well. What are some key things that we should look out for when we are trying to start our own campaign? How to make sure that I got increased success rate? The big million dollar question: how to increase my success rate? We’re going to start this thing.
Ryan: Maybe I could tell you what to not do.
Reggie: Okay. We can start there, yes.
Ryan: Maybe… try to get as much validation from your peers first and while a lot of them will literally shit on your project and say “this is a waste of time”.
Reggie: Especially the closest friends, they will always shit on you.
Ryan: They will shit on your project. But I mean… the best thing to do is to ask for unfettered opinions, people that don’t care about you as much as your friends. So maybe far away relatives or your cousin that you don’t really hang out with or your old friends from school on Facebook. Just don’t approach them like a creepy insurance agent. You’ll be fine.
But yeah, that’s the kind of objectivity you need. I mean yes, you can ask your friends, but if you don’t want to be extremely put up or extremely put down then ask your very close friends, because that’s what they’re going to do for you. So once you ask enough people that you know have very objective standpoint… I think a good success rate is about 7 of them… 7 out of 10 of them say “yeah, it’s kinda cool”, I think this is when you can go into… continue making this happen.
What you should not do is not do that. So don’t jump in blindly. Don’t just create something like oh my god… for example, the ah beng (gangster) mentality. It’s a very old Testament style. “I’m just going to make this, I’m going to launch. I don’t care.” That’s a recipe for failure and the more knowledge you have, the better. The more angles, the more crevices, the more parts that are not dark anymore, it’s easier for you to never get.
So I guess what you want to do is… plan. First thing you want to do is have a good financial goal. Once you find out what your goal is… for example, let’s go back to the case thing. Let’s say you need to raise $5000 and let’s say you’re pricing your cases at… just for calculation sake, $50 a case. So that’s a…
Reggie: How do I decide how to price my things?
Ryan: Okay, we can do that. How do you price your things? Look at the competitors in the market, because at this point in time, you don’t really have a brand together yet. Brand is only a brand when people start remembering. If you just put something and put a random label on it, it’s not a brand yet. When it comes to brand, people remember. So at the start, I just look at people in your market that are doing something similar… look at the headphone case market in its entirety.
Go from the cheapest that you can find on Taobao or Shopee which can be as low as $2, which is also very demoralizing for you, but never mind. You need to know that, you need to know that. Then look at the very expensive far end. There’s a company called GRAY in Singapore and they make atas (upmarket)… very, very atas and extremely exquisite iPhone and phone covers. It could cost up to a few thousand dollars for one phone cover.
Ryan: Yeah, I think that he makes it out of platinum or gold. It’s very out-of-the-world looking.
Reggie: More expensive than the phone.
Ryan: Yeah… yes, that’s right. More expensive than the phone. It looks like it matches… like you’re going to have a… you’re going to own a Lamborghini or Ferrari and you need to put it next to your car keys. You know, that kind of feels? You can see, you can imagine the Instagram vibes right now? That’s what it is. Then after that, keep looking until you find a median price in the market. It’s going to be in the range of $15 to $30, probably? That’s where you can get at and that’s somewhere you want to aim towards for a safe start.
Another point to note, if this is your first campaign, it’s in your best interest to get as many users as possible, because this will benefit your subsequent campaigns when you launch again because you will launch again. So it’s your best interests…
Reggie: What do you mean “as many users”?
Ryan: So pre-purchasers…
Reggie: So it does not matter if these guys come in with very big tickets. You want small numbers…
Ryan: Small but more.
Reggie: Okay. Small but more. Okay, so then they fall into your ecosystem?
Reggie: Okay, okay.
Ryan: So I think your first initial goal is to build database, and to build database, you’ve got to market a little bit. So marketing can come in many forms, ads and all that stuff. It can come in the form of a big discount on your products.
Reggie: Okay. So the thing about discount, right? Essentially when I go to a Kickstarter platform, then what happens is I’m trying to support early creator. I’m the early adopter, essentially. I want to… aiya cheapo, right? I want to get something at a better price. So then based on what you’ve said, there is a MOQ that I need to service, which is… this is like $5000 that I need to have for the amazing iPhone case made with mycelium. And then I check the broad market out there to know what is all the prices. I try to aim for the middle. These are why I’m hearing…
Ryan: Median, median.
Reggie: The median. So I’m trying to aim for the median and this is the most average price this year. Then based on that, how do I then charge my contributors? Because my target is $5000, my media is about $15. That is my retail price. How do I price for my early adopters and my campaign supporters?
Ryan: So campaign supporters will always want to… have to get it cheaper because what other incentives would they have?
Reggie: Yes yes yes.
Ryan: They’re going to help you out, but of course you gonna give them that nice social positioning as well. That means they can tell their friends “hey, I got this at this price before it was a real thing.”
Reggie: I’m special, I early adopt…
Ryan: Yes, so give that to them, and how we can give that to them is in… well there are many ways. Number one is price. Number two is exclusivity. That means you can give them this, but this batch will never be made again… this particular design. So it’s only for them in that sense. Generally, if you just go by price strategy, if (it’s) your first time launching a Kickstarter, you want to do a 30% discount.
Reggie: 30% discount.
Ryan: So it’s going to come up to what, $10? Yeah, $10… 10 bucks. So then now you do the math: how many $10 do I need to sell to hit $5000? That will be 500. So your initial launch, you need to hit 500 people for this to become a goal and you can pay your manufacturer. So, yeah, that’s how you do your math. That’s how you forecast exactly how much money you need and how many people will need to support the campaign for this to become a real thing. Yes.
Reggie: So then how do I go about getting all these people? It’s not that I just post then immediately ohhhh… no, does not work that way.
Ryan: Now we can go backwards.
Reggie: Yeah, yeah okay. So we have the target now.
Ryan: Now we have the target. Now we have the financial target.
Reggie: We know our price point.
Ryan: We know our price point, our financial target and we know how many people you need.
Ryan: You need 500 people. Now we’re going into duration. Kickstarter campaigns can go anywhere from one day to 60 days. Usually people do 30.
Ryan: Why? I don’t know. I think it’s the culture.
Reggie: Kickstarter culture.
Ryan: Yeah, people usually do 30 days. As a Kickstarter veteran, I would… this is my biggest hint for everyone listening: do 40 to 45 days.
Ryan: Yes. So this is gonna sound strange, but it’s true, okay? This is from me and my experience. Within 40 to 45 days, people around the world would have gotten his salary twice.
Reggie: Ah okay.
Ryan: Higher chance of that happening. So that means now you can double down twice. If you want to strategize and do your ads and all that stuff like that, which we will come to eventually… but just for brevity’s sake, when you have to spend money for ads on Kickstarter, usually you spend during paydays, usually a few days before payday and a few days after payday.
So that’s five days of marketing, so you can double down on that a few times. Probably two or three times during this whole campaign, and that’s where most impulse purchases will take because now… “oh yeah, I got money now!” A lot of your audience will be in the US and to be very honest, they are… A lot of them… paycheck to paycheck per se. So it’s all planned out already, they don’t really have a lot saved up. They will just spend straight away in that sense. So you want to do it that way. (It) seem to be same for the rest of the world. When there’s excess cash, then when opportunities come, then this will happen.
Reggie: Yeah. Give me some clarity. You said a lot of the backers will be from the US.
Reggie: What is the kind of percentage? So that means that I’m going to do this whole thing in Singapore or wherever I am and my target are the US consumers.
Reggie: What’s the percentage like?
Ryan: Again, depending on your product… but let’s just go for generic products wise. Let’s go back to this case again. 50% of your backers would highly come from the US. The rest would be distributed into UK, Australia, Europe, they’ll make up the next 30%. The rest of the 20%… 15-18% will come from Singapore and the rest will be from Hong Kong, Japan and other countries that just barely ever use Kickstarter. Singapore is one of your largest markets in Asia.
Reggie: People got a lot of spare cash to spend on this…
Ryan: And we all speak English.
Reggie: Okay. Okay.
Ryan: That’s right. So it’s communications again. It’s all there. We’re already… Singaporeans have extra. Most Singaporeas have extra dough to burn. They want new shiny things. That’s going to be distribution. In terms of your marketing, when you’re choosing the tone of voice, the target markets, try to prioritize more of US.
Reggie: Okay, okay.
Ryan: Because that will… it just makes more sense to the larger market. People will purchase more of their… but also don’t forget Singapore, because Singapore will be your… I would say your impetus. Singapore will get the ball rolling for you because this is your easy-to-reach market. It’s right here, sitting down your ass. You can just call your friend “hey bro…
Reggie: Support me.
Ryan: … support me now or else.” Or can you just gather everyone’s credit cards? “Hey, I’ve got to borrow this like a couple of days, guys”… Yeah, do that stuff.
Reggie: Okay, not recommending that, but… okay. Okay. So I get the idea based on the demographic, based on the financial targets that we are trying to go for. So then how does these campaigns work then? 45 days, 40 days… What is the process going to look like?
Ryan: Quite straight up. So every single day, let’s go back to that 500 target.
Reggie: Yes. Yes.
Ryan: So you need 500 backers.
Reggie: For mycelium covers.
Ryan: We call these people backers because they are actually pre-purchasers in that sense. So you need 500 of these people. So let’s say you’re doing 40 day campaign. Okay…. can’t do math right now.
Reggie: 40 day campaign.
Ryan: 40 day… 40 day campaign. You need 500 altogether in that 40 days. So how many you need per day?
Reggie: About 13.
Ryan: So you need to do… you need to hit 13 a day, right? So now you work backwards again. How can you get 13 people coming to your campaign page a day and putting down money? This builds back onto your pre-marketing campaign. Generally, if you want to be successful, you gotta be successful even before you press the launch button. I know this is hard to hear, hard to swallow, but it’s a good mindset to take.
Generally, depending on your pre-marketing ads or however you pre-market, whether it’s Facebook posts, Instagram posts, or if you’re actually at a pop-up store and showing people and taking down emails. Try to hit 3-4 times that amount.
Reggie: So if I want 500 backers, I want to hit about 1500 – 2000.
Ryan: Yes, 1500 – 2000 people that have given you the emails already.
Reggie: Okay, okay.
Ryan: The quality of these emails, that is up to you already. To be very specific, what is quality mean? That means for example, if you met someone and you showed it to them… “hey, I’m going to launch this soon”, and they’re very excited. “Oh my god, it’s so cool. Can you please tell me when it’s ready?” That’s a very strong lead. That’s a very strong email you collected, whereas you did something online and maybe they saw a picture of it. This is questionable.
You don’t know whether it was a bot. You don’t know whether this person has put it down, just like “yeah, maybe”. You don’t know how strong that desire was. So in your marketing and all that stuff, if you can think of ways to make those lead stronger, the better. If you can have 500 super strong leads, that means great.
Ryan: That means you’re 90… you’re like 90% chance you are going to hit that goal already so it’s easier, right? So for duration of your pre-marketing campaign, don’t go more than two months.
Reggie: Okay. So let me kinda consolidate a little bit. So from an idea, we go to get a prototype. After our friends decide to validate us, we get a prototype. We set our target based on the MOQ and we set a price. But then you’re saying that even before we begin the campaign, we had to do the pre-marketing. So it’s actually all your pre-launch stuff.
Ryan: Pre launches.
Reggie: And then you said two months. So what happens in this two months when we’re trying to generate lead and all that. Paint us some pictures, what are some possibilities? How do people do this?
Ryan: All right. So pre-marketing becomes… basically content creation first. You need to do your videos, photos, write-ups, copywriting, all that jazz, right? Everything that makes your product look good. Digital.
Reggie: You only have one prototype. Make this one prototype look like whoa, spin and shit.
Ryan: You can do magic man.
Reggie: Okay, okay.
Ryan: Like video editing softwares are amazing these days, so you can do whatever you want. And how far you want to go along with that is up to you. I think at this point in time, some listeners might have questions like “oh, do I have to pay a company to do it for me?” I get the question all the time. Yes you can, only if you are totally unable to do yourself. Because (at the) end of the day, you want to save costs, right? You want to… as cheaply as possible launch a campaign, that means you have to do a lot of these things yourself.
It is okay if the video quality isn’t as great as like superstar content. It is not supposed to be. (At the) end of the day, it is a Kickstarter. It comes from a very humble point. Please don’t forget that. Because if you do, then you’re screwing up the whole point of Kickstarter already. It’s a point to test and try. Of course, do the video to the best of your ability. That is all you need. That’s one thing.
Once you’ve done all your content creation and your collaterals and stuff like that, now it’s into pre-marketing. So what does that mean? What is pre-marketing? Pre-marketing means getting word out and getting as much demand before you launch the project. How do you collect this data? You need emails, names, age… as much as you can. But the minimum you need is email. You need a point of contact. Also, before I go further, make sure you know how to use email software like MailChimp and stuff like that. If you don’t know, literally it takes you like two hours to learn. It’s quite easy.
Reggie: Not sponsored.
Ryan: Yeah, not sponsored.
Reggie: Everybody keep dropping software names. I must get all the software to sponsor. Make sure we will talk to these guys. Okay, continue.
Ryan: MailChimp, if you are listening, you know what to do. Hit us up…. okay, make sure you know what to use software like that. Then you’re all set. So now you just run your ads, word of mouth, do your social media. Keep talking about your product with every single person you meet. Go for meetups. The more physical, the better actually, because the more quality leads you’re going to get. Keep doing that for two months. I mean, two months is the extreme, right? You don’t have to do so long, but do as long as you can.
Once you get to one week before launch, this is when you start hitting them up again, sending those emails. This is when the emails come into play. Tell everyone “hey guys, we’re launching seven days. Host it on socials, make a big hooha, rah-rah about it. This is when you want to get journalists involved. Hopefully you will have your press release written already before this. This was in in part of your content creation. Send it all out. Tell these journalists to… you can either embargo, it means you can tell them to release this at a certain time or you can choose whenever you want it to be released.
Reggie: That’s a whole different topic.
Ryan: Whole different topic.
Reggie: Doing press release, all those is very complicated. I know it cannot be succinctly expressed, but I get the idea. Okay. Yes.
Ryan: The more, the merrier. Just send it out to everyone. Not everyone’s gonna reply you, but just send it out anyway. And then three days before we launch, again another email, another hooha, rah rah. “Hey, we are launching in three days. Don’t forget” blah, blah, blah.
One day before you launch… so tomorrow you are launching, so today you send out another email. This is when you might want to come up with a bit of an incentive hook. This is when you… maybe advertise a bit more on the first tier price points. So like “okay anyway, so guys don’t forget, it’s gonna be 30% off. This campaign’s only gonna be for 40 days. After this, this special batch wouldn’t be available anymore. If you want to get it, it’ll be in two, three months after production and it will be a different design.” so this is where you want to come out with the…
Reggie: All the exclusive, all that jazz.
Ryan: That’s right. Scarcity marketing, please. If you don’t know what scarcity marketing is, you can read up online, right? Employ all those tactics. And then one hour before launch, another email. So I think up to now, you sent like four emails, right?
Reggie: Yes. Yes.
Ryan: So one hour before launch, same email. “Hey guys, one hour more, blah, blah, blah”. At this point, some people may be getting irritated, but it’s fine. They forgive you. So don’t care. Just send anyway. And then launch time. Once you launch, five minutes after you launch, send another email. Send another email to say we are launched and this is where it goes crazy on Facebook and everything like that. Get creative, do what you want to… go live, talk about it. I don’t know, up to you. There are many formats.
Reggie: Yeah, these days there are a lot of strategies.
Ryan: Up to you. The sky’s the limit in terms of creativity, how you wanna do this. Voila, you have launched.
Ryan: Just keep the momentum growing.
Reggie: Okay, okay. So then from here, all the things will start to set in and we’ll finally decide if it works. Then we move on to next steps.
Ryan: Okay. Oh good that you’re on to that. Within the first three days, you will figure out whether your campaign is successful or not.
Reggie: Tell me more, tell me more. Yes.
Ryan: Okay. So there’s always like a push. Let’s say you need to sell it to 500 people. If within the first three days, you hit 250 people, half your campaign is done. I think that’s a good indicator that it’s going to be successful because 250 people is quite (a) substantial amount of people that can talk about it to their friends. So by word of mouth, it will travel and you can get a good amount of people coming in and purchasing. Also, you have the organic people that are on Kickstarter, surfing around looking for stuff, so they are going to come in as well.
Reggie: But don’t bank on that, right?
Ryan: Try not to bank on the organic Kickstarter guys. The organic Kickstarter people can surprise you…
Reggie: But keep them as a surprise.
Ryan: Keep them as a surprise. That’s right, that’s right. They could come in the form of 30% of the campaigns.
Reggie: Wow, that’s quite a lot.
Ryan: They can come in the form of 30% or they can come in the form of 50%.
Ryan: Yeah, I’ve seen that happen before for my own campaigns as well. But at the same time, I wouldn’t bank on them. Try to be funded in the first 48 hours. Try to hit all 500 people in the first 48 hours, because then you unlock something else called the Kickstarter algorithm. This is where Kickstarter sees that “oh, this project is doing pretty well. It’s popular. I’m going to put it on the popular page.” That’s only if you qualify within the first 48 hours of launch. Once you hit the popular page, that’s when organic people come in.
Reggie: Okay, okay, okay. So then give me an idea. There’s this thing called stretch goals, right? That means once you hit it already.
Reggie: Then you… more, right? Because I supported some campaigns, it keeps sending email… “oh we got new stretch goals” and those kind of stuff. So is it a strategy to set a lower benchmark to hit first? And then you go popular, you get picked up by the algorithm and then…
Ryan: Not really. I don’t think as a consumer that’s looking at a crowdfunding campaign, I’ll look at our projects and then I’ll see the stretch goals. Maybe they offer different colours and stuff like that. If it’s a stretch goal, I don’t really care because I can’t get it unless…
Reggie: It is stretched.
Ryan: Unless they hit certain funding targets.
Ryan: So I don’t know. It also depends at which point of the campaign do I come in. That means, do I see it after they are successful? Let’s say the stretch goal is at the $10 000 mark. So let’s say they needed to raise $5000, but they already hit $10 000. So ultimately, their stretch goal opens up. Then it becomes relevant to me. But before that point it’s not relevant to me.
Ryan: As for brands, for creators, how to make it relevant? So what they’ll do is for creators, for someone who wants to launch, it is in your best interest to milk every single person for as much money as possible.
Reggie: I’m feeling so mixed here.
Ryan: It’s sales, it’s sales. (At the) end of the day, it’s sales. Maybe I’m not phrasing it the nicest, but it is sales. You want to be successful. (At the) end of the day, milking them doesn’t mean you’re not giving them value. You are. How does it work? Let’s say you want to have a stretch goal of a different colourway. Let’s say… maybe a glow-in-the-dark cover for the mycelium one, using glow-in-the-dark mushrooms.
Reggie: Okay. Okay.
Ryan: I just went to walk into the jungle, I saw this.
Reggie: I like this. I like this.
Ryan: So glow-in-the-dark one. Kind of cool, right?
Reggie: Kind of cool, kind of cool.
Ryan: Oh, that’s cool. So what happens is 1000 people have already backed you. That’s why you have $10 000, right?
Reggie: That’s when you hit your stretch goals.
Ryan: That’s when you hit the stretch goal. The glow-in-the-dark mushroom cover opens up at $10 000. So what you do now? You send another email using your software and you tell them “hey guys, if you want this stretch goal as well, just add $8!”
Ryan: So now on top, rather than…
Reggie: Rather than buying one, now they can add $8, they get two…
Ryan: It’s cheaper.
Reggie: … and then you continue to push the campaign.
Ryan: Correct. So that means you’re still selling that one, maybe at $12 or whatever, right? A bit more expensive because it’s special, right? You can either sell at $12… That means if these people don’t want the initial cover anymore, they cancel that and change, top up $2. So you earn $2 extra. Alternatively, you can minus the price and then you earn $8 more. You want to own how much more? It depends, and there’ll be a mix of both coming in.
Ryan: Yeah. You will see every campaign’s different, you’ll see how that goes. So that’s a role of a stretch goal.
Reggie: Nice!. Okay, okay. So then last question, if I make this successful, if this is a campaign and we’ve done all the things and somehow we make it work, what are the next steps? Do I take this seriously or… how do we continue this campaign?
Ryan: So just for clarity sake, that means once you are done refunding, you got money in your bank…
Reggie: We got money, we already give out everything. So not about the, not about the… So…
Ryan: Crowdfunding is done.
Reggie: Yeah, crowdfunding is done. We have fulfilled all the stuff.
Ryan: Sent it out to everyone.
Reggie: Sent it out to everybody. I know that part may be a little tricky. We will talk about this another time, but you sent it out to everybody. You have already successfully completed your brand creation process and your product fulfillment. What happens next?
Ryan: What happens now? Okay. So what happens now is you would have a bunch of inventory leftover at home or in your warehouse. That’s for sure, unless you… no one plans that well. It’s impossible.
Reggie: I mean, even the big brands have a whole discount route to throw out a lot of those other things.
Ryan: You have a batch lying around somewhere, and I think at this point in time, you should already have an e-commerce online store. That literally takes you a day to set up or less. If you don’t, you should’ve done it yesterday.
Reggie: That’s the basis of price, right? You need to have that so that people know that this is the retail price.
Ryan: That’s right. So now you have your website, you’re selling it. Now we just go on full e-commerce strategy. In your bank account, you already have money now. See, now you already have the ball rolling. You have already raised money. You have already profited in terms of… let’s just do a very quick simulation of profits, right? Generally, for iPhone covers and all that… that market. I think it’s a good 70% profits.
Ryan: It’s quite good because your costs will be… let’s say $2 per cover or less… it will probably be much cheaper than that. So let’s say $1 per cover. You’re making… how many pieces we making?
Ryan: Let’s say you’re making a thousand pieces. That’s $1000? That’s one grand for 1000 covers and…
Reggie: The rest is profit.
Ryan: The rest is profit already and you would have… you sold one at how much? $10. So you make $9… $9000. So you will have how much in the bank? Quite a substantial enough money to roll onto the next campaign already. So what you could do now is continue selling this stuff at your retail price like $15 on an e-commerce store, which of course will not be as fast as it was during crowdfunding anymore. Because your marketing engagement is different now. It’s different. So you’ll probably see a drop, a good 50% drop in purchases per day. When you see… initially, it was like 13 a day? You probably see 5-7.
Reggie: Yeah. Not too bad.
Ryan: It’s okay. It’s sustainable at this point in time. But how to keep that going and how to increase that number, that engagement number? This is when you’re going to e-commerce strategy, which is actually very similar to the whole crowdfunding thing. You already did it, do the same thing again! But now, instead of pushing people to your campaign page and telling them there are discounts, you just point them straight onto your e-commerce page. Or maybe you can give it in the form of $2 discounts or early sign ups and stuff like that. And keep that ball going for another… maybe 2-3 months before you launch your next one.
Ryan: And you do the same thing again on Kickstarter.
Reggie: And again and again and again. After you run 7 successful Kickstarters, then we’ll be talking.
Ryan: And then you become Casetify.
Reggie: What is that?
Reggie: I don’t know what is that.
Ryan: Casetify is like the biggest phone cover brand in the world. They do a lot of sponsorships and all that stuff like that.
Ryan: And they have quite… I think they… Not sponsored, I don’t have any of their things. I just see a lot of ads.
Reggie: Nice, nice. Okay can.
Reggie: I’m sure there are a lot more nooks and crannies from logistics, how to fulfill all those things… we cannot cover today. This is too much stuff. One final question. How much do I need to start this whole thing?
Ryan: I think less than two grand, probably?
Ryan: I was in less than $2k? If you’re thinking about specifically like handphone covers…
Ryan: Mycelium covers. We need to have some mushrooms first as well, right? But yeah, you could probably accomplish something like this within $1-2k.
Ryan: Sing(apore) dollars.
Reggie: Okay. So maybe a potential side hustle…
Reggie: … for everyone. So yep, I hope you learnt something useful today. We will see you around. Take care guys.
Ryan: Thank you very much for the opportunity, Reggie!
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Okay so I’m just going to ask you. Your first question is what is a core life principle that you hold close to?
Ryan: Be patient, be open… and that is said about almost everything in life, because a lot of times we are too hasty to make decisions. When we are too hasty, we usually make wrong decision. When you’re not patient, you don’t get to see things as a whole. I know this is very abstract sounding…
Reggie: It is very abstract sounding.
Ryan: It is very abstract sounding but…
Reggie: Very entrepreneur.
Ryan: Yeah, it is, it is. Okay maybe something stronger. How you do one thing is how you do it everything. That means from like… do you take care of your bed everyday? Do you make it everyday? Do you clean your stuff every day at home? You bring this into your daily life as well, stuff like that. So if you’re meticulous at home, you are meticulous at work. So if you’re going to be meticulous at work, try to be meticulous at home first.
Reggie: Okay. Fair, fair. Yeah. You are the soldier dad in the future, right? Early in the morning… “Clear up your bed!”
Ryan: Not really! This is… I have to say to myself, so I make it happen.
Reggie: Okay, that’s good, that’s good Number two is what is the personal finance advice that you few should be fully propagated?
Ryan: Further propagated… stop spending because of ego. A lot of times we make purchases is because of the people around us. You make purchases because (of) that nice, shiny thing. Why do you need it, to be honest?
Reggie: Because of people like you lah, stage a whole Kickstarter campaign. Then now come and tell me don’t buy the shiny…
Ryan: Placing value again.
Reggie: Okay, okay, okay.
Ryan: The mushroom covers are not going to sell themselves… so yeah. Is it for me to impress someone else? If the answer is to impress someone, (it) doesn’t mean you don’t get it. No. Hold up, hold up. Are you impressing someone else to get further in your life? If that’s the case, yeah, sure. If you’re impressing someone just for the sake, there’s no point. So I think that you got to think about your purchases in that sense.
I’m not talking about food and stuff like that. I’m talking about…
Reggie: Little bit more strategic.
Ryan: Stuff that are a bit more extravagant, stuff like that. Extravagance doesn’t mean expensive things. It could be small decisions, stuff like that, but know where your money is going.
Reggie: Nice! Okay, and the last question is which part of your life are you giving additional focus on now?
Ryan: Right now? Self. Because as a longtime entrepreneur, I’ve been through a lot of downs, more downs than ups. So I’ve taken failure more than enough, but I feel that success is just merely a culmination of failure, so it’s fine. But at the same time…
Reggie: It’s tiring.
Ryan: Yeah, it’s tiring. So I think if your body and soul and mind is not in tune, you’re not going to go forward. Something I learnt last year is to really be a bit more gentle on myself in that sense, because pushing hard every single day will get tiring, will wear you out. Burnout is very, very, very real.
Ryan: And depression and stuff like that. If you ever feel that way, reach out to your friends. Talk about it because… don’t stay in the dark, get out.
Reggie: Yeah, and say no to hustle porn.
Ryan: That’s right.
Reggie: I don’t believe in that whole rubbish. Join us in our other podcast, Our Entrepreneurshit Show and we’ll talk more about it. Shameless plug. It’s okay. My own show, I can plug. Okay. Thank you. See you around. Take care. Awesome.
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