If you’ve heard of crowdfunding, you’ve no doubt seen the heroic campaigns that manage to raise millions in just 30 days, exceed their goal by five thousand percent, and ascend to celebrity stardom on social media.
If you ask me, saying “yes” to humble, transparent companies with homestyle videos has some serious appeal. No doubt that’s why over $16.2 billion was raised through crowdfunding in 2014.
Despite all the bells and whistles, what’s not as well-known is the fact that 6 out of 10 crowdfunding campaigns fail to reach their funding goals. On all-or-nothing platforms like Kickstarter, this means companies lose all of the funds they raised.
But don’t be discouraged, aspiring startups. This is actually a great opportunity to shine bright among a sea of dull contenders — with the right tools, of course.
Meet Connor Young, a crowdfunding ninja who’s currently reached 391% of his campaign goal, a whopping $195k after being fully funded in the first 30 hours. I caught up with Young about his impressive feat on this week’s episode of Unconventional Life, “Hacking The Crowdfunding Algorithm: Get Fully Funded In 3 Days.”
Young beat the crowdfunding odds with his product Ample, a complete meal-in-a-bottle made from superior, real-food ingredients. The formula sprung from years of research Young did himself, equipped with a biology degree and the rare kind of patience required to read through 800+ clinical nutrition journals.
Young created Ample out of a desire to bring health to the “hacker house” he occupied in San Francisco, along with 50 other tech-type roommates.
As a former CrossFit trainer, Young was surprised to encounter so many people who simply didn’t have time to prioritize nutrition. His housemates were working busy schedules and filling up on unhealthy convenience snacks.
Troubled, Young sought to design a product that would both fulfill their nutrition needs and flow with their schedule. Over the course of the next year, he experimented with different combinations of real-food powders, amending the recipes daily.
“The absolutely critical part was the fact I was in this huge house where constant iteration was required,” Young says. “There would be 20 people, everyday, who were like, ‘what’s the newest version of Ample? What’s going on?’ Because there were so many iterations of this and because people really did want it, it took off almost immediately.”
Below, Young shares the magic formula behind his crowdfunding success, so you too can crush your campaign in just 7 steps.
1. Start 2-3 months in advance. Give yourself plenty of time to plan the campaign, create top-notch content, and coordinate the launch date. The growth leading up to the campaign is just as important as the growth during the campaign.
3. Focus on the content. Write the entire campaign page before you begin anything else. Make sure it is organized and includes all of the relevant information. Then use the campaign page as a blueprint for your video, in which you’ll really bring your product to life.
4. Decide on a price that makes sense. Ideally, you’ll want your price point to allow you to reach your goal with just a few hundred backers or less. Keep in mind the average contribution tends to be about $75, so you won’t actually need to aim for as many backers as you think.
5. Create a “lifetime” perk. Give your backers the option to enjoy your product for life. Young priced a lifetime supply of Ample at $5,000, which enabled him to reach his goal quickly — viewers saw plenty of money funneling in early, which increased Ample’s credibility and perceived value.
6. Invest money into your campaign. It’s worth it to invest some money into your campaign upfront so that it appears professional, polished, and valuable. Consider hiring a film crew, a graphic designer, and an editor. The better your campaign looks, the more backers you’ll attract, so consider it an investment that will pay for itself.
7. Ride the wave of momentum. “People want to bet on a winner,” Young says. “If you really want to make this thing successful, you actually need to hit your campaign goal not within 30 days but within 3 days.” Capitalize on the excitement at the beginning of your campaign to maximize backers early on, get on your platform’s featured page, and appear on podcasts to spread the word.
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