Friday, November 1, 2013

unCon 2013 Session: How to Survive and Thrive on Kickstarter: Adapteva CEO shares lessons learned

Moderator: Andreas Olofsson, CEO, Adapteva

Kickstarter has become a staple launching pad for young, promising companies to build a community and earn the money they need to get off the ground. Many of these leaders, from organic clothing lines to insect-based food products, gathered at the unConference “Do’s and Don’ts of Kickstarter” session, where Andreas Olofsson, CEO of Lexington-based Adapteva shared best practices and lessons learned from his experience managing a 30 day campaign.

Olofsson and his team set out to fund the production of the Parallella Board, an energy efficient and scalable multicore processor chip designed for parallel computing. He reminded us that Kickstarter is not a glamorous as it may seem (but then again, neither is starting a company). However, by understanding the risk and complexity associated, startups will be better-equipped leverage the platform’s full power.
Besides creating a killer video, Olofsson offered insights to keep in mind for those launching their first Kickstarter campaign:

  1. Launch with a plan: Make sure that all of your decisions about the campaign—from funding goals, pricing, reward tiers to communication and messaging—are set in stone before you press go. If you are offering a product, line up your vendor and manufacturing agreements and ensure that you have the staff in place to support any jumps in traction. The process unfolds quickly, so the more organized you are from the start, the better able you will be to engage with your customers, grow your following and meet your goal.
  2. Listen to and leverage your community. Kickstarter is an amazing platform to gain customer feedback and brand evangelism. Adapteva released a survey a week out, allowing the team to gain a better understanding of the customer’s needs and adjust reward levels and messaging accordingly. The company also solidified strong relationships with their supporters, who helped to spread the message about the campaign on their own (a few even took work off during the last three days of the campaign focus on boosting Adapteva enthusiasm). Be transparent with all of your customers—the more you communicate with them the more motivated they will be to support you in good and bad times.
  3. Embrace the unanticipated blocks in the road. Olofsson spoke of many surprising issues that popped up throughout the experience, many of which had not been on his radar. Unexpected obstacles will pop up, making the ability to avoid assumptions and creatively solve problems key for survival.
  4. Shipping. Yes, shipping gets its own section—it’s just that complicated. Mapping out a process and service provider for domestic and international shipping (Shipwire, DHL were a few recommendations from the crowd) is incredibly important for a smooth campaign.
  5. Broadcast on all channels. Olofsson stressed the importance of leveraging all channels—across social and traditional media—to drive campaign traffic.

Case and point: Kickstarter is a great opportunity, but like all entrepreneurial ventures, you have to ready to put the legwork in. For more Kickstarter knowledge, check out Olofsson’s presentation, “Kickstarting the Transition to Parallel Computing with Open Hardware.”

Lizzie McQuillan, Scratch Marketing + Media


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