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4 Crowdfunding Success Secrets

There's been a lot of buzz lately surrounding the power of crowdfunding and it's ability to change the world of commerce, but it still remains a relative mystery to some would-be entrepreneurs.

(Not sure what crowdfunding is exactly? That's ok, check this post out)

With The Grommet hosting the first ever Boston Crowdfunding Weekend this Saturday, we decided it would be perfect timing to ask our partners to share their secrets for crowdfunding success. Tom Stewart, our longtime partner, has had not 1 but 2 successful campaigns funded on both Kickstarter and Indiegogo when launching  Sunskis sunglasses.

Today, Tom is sharing his tips on how to start your campaign and reach your goals. Read on for our Q & A with Tom:

4 Crowdfunding Success Secrets

What was the best way to prepare for the launch of your campaign? What’s helpful in organizing your project beforehand?

We spent a lot of time looking at other crowdfunding projects to observe what worked and what didn’t.  There was definitely a common process that successful projects used to effectively convey ideas, make a pledge, and ultimately, garner support. A lot of what makes a successful project also seemed to revolve around the type of project.  We noticed that some subject matter is better suited for crowdfunding than others.  In addition to the restrictions on projects that a certain crowdfunding platform may have, certain kinds of projects and concepts really seemed to work well in the crowdfunding setting.

How did you figure out what you would offer for rewards?

This question provides a good transition from the last, because one of main ways to gauge how suited a project is for crowdfunding is by its natural reward structure.  Without doubt, the best and most effective projects are ones where the rewards are the project itself.  My favorite example is a band that wants to record an album and needs to raise money to pay for the recording studio fees.  As a reward, the band offers a copy of the album. As a potential backer for this example project, it’s really easy to understand where the money is going and exactly what you get in return for supporting. The more directly you can relate the reward to the project, the better.

The same system works for product design and many technology projects where backers receive a product as a reward.  Our entire project was about making sunglasses, so for our rewards, we offered…sunglasses!

In general, projects that have simple and easy to understand reward structures seem to perform better.  If you are making a film, offer a DVD of the film; if you’re making an album, offer a copy of the album; if you’re making a cookbook, offer the cookbook, etc.

What are some of your tips for a successful campaign?

The video is by far the most important component of a successful campaign.  It offers the project creator an unprecedented opportunity to engage with potential customers in “longform”. Usually a typical ad is 30 seconds long at most; on TV this can cost a fortune and most of the time we just ignore the commercials anyway.  When people visit your crowdfunding page, they expect to spend time watching your video; if it’s engaging, they’ll often watch the whole thing.  Considering how fast marketing messages move in other media, this is an incredible opportunity to make an impact and turn a stranger into a supporter.

For our video, we tried to prioritize a very clear explanation of what the project was about, why we needed help from Kickstarter, what we would do with the money, and what backers would get in return for their support. Rather than spend valuable time explaining elusive concepts like branding, we tried to allow our brand to present itself visually while we focusing our words on the hard facts about our project

What’s the best way to spread the word?

The best way to spread the word is to lean on your family, friends, and close network, especially at the beginning right when your product launches.  The first 24-48 hours of your campaign is critically important; the faster off the line you are, the more likely you are to end up on the trending and popular pages.  The sooner this happens, the sooner you’ll start getting visitors out of your immediate network visiting your project and hopefully supporting.  In order to get out of the shadows and rise to the top, you need that big push from your family and friends right at the beginning.


A big thanks to Tom for taking the time to share his tips with us about launching a successful crowdfunding campaign. 

You can also shop crowdfunded products right here on The Grommet.


  • Marrish Says:

    How do you protect yourself from someone stealing your idea? For example, you ask for funding for your sunglasses and someone else sees a way to improve on YOUR design and then market that. Is there any legal protection for your product?

  • Tom Says:

    Hi Marrish, Thanks for your question. Believe it or not, we actually had a project launch right on the heels our Kickstarter campaign that was almost identical to ours. They used similar drawings, had very similar sunglasses, and even used nearly identical phrasing in parts of their video. This ruffled our feathers quite a bit at the time, but upon reflection, it didn't really hurt our business in the grand scheme.

    As you plan your potential project, the best thing to do is worry about what you can do to be the best, rather than worry about what others might do in your wake. Legally speaking, there are actions you can take with trademark registration as well as copyright registration, which are always good steps and can be affordable with the right legal counsel. There is never any harm in listing your words, graphics, photos, and illustrations with the US Copyright office. This will give you stronger copyright protection if down the line you run into a legal confrontation. The same goes with trademark: if you have a name for your product, you can register that mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for an affordable fee even if your product is not on the market yet. In this case you will file what is called an "Intent To Use" trademark for that name, which we actually did with "Sunski" before converting that into our commercial mark once we started shipping sunglasses to customers. One thing to keep in mind with trademarks is that it is best to consult a lawyer who will research the viability of your mark and ensure that no other uses of your mark exist in the public domain.

    These "internal" steps to protect your creative property are certainly advisable. They will act as good assets for the overall value of your brand going forward. That being said, these filings and listings are only as strong as your ability and willingness to enforce them. In other words, even if you have all your trademarks and copyright listings, another company or person can infringe on your material and can do so without penalty until you take action against them. While it is truly infuriating to see someone else benefit from your work & efforts, the best thing to do is just be consistently one step ahead of the competition. As long as they are riding your coattails and not putting you out of business, it's always easier (and way less expensive) to skip that call to your lawyer.

    In other words, don't worry too much about it! Focus on your project and make it the best it can be! Hope this helps, Tom

  • Bob Says:

    We are seriously considering crowdfunding to get our product into production. A few quick questions:
    1. How important on a scale of 1 (not) to 10 (a must) was having an active Facebook page going before and during the project?
    2. How did you determine the amount of money you needed?
    3. When you "took" control of the money how did you account for it? It's not revenue or owners capital. So how do you classify it?

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