Kickstarter Inspires New York's Next Top Makers
We’re all capable of creating incredible things.
Kickstarter is a global crowdfunding platform that enables people to bring creative projects to life. Since its launch in April 2009, the company has received over $1 billion in pledges from over 7 million donors to fund 74,000 projects.
Proudly made in NY, Kickstarter fosters an inventive and entrepreneurial atmosphere at its Greenpoint, Brooklyn headquarters in a former pencil factory.
This past October, all 41 applications to New York’s Next Top Maker program were invited to an inspirational evening with the Kickstarter team to learn what it takes to launch a successful project.
A formal presentation from John Dimatos, Kickstarter's head of Design and Tech Partnerships, was followed by tailored advice to the Next Top Makers community. Aurora Thornhill, Manager of Community Engagement, and Community Managers Nick Yulman and Julio Terra provided tips on how to generate awareness, raise money, and craft a compelling narrative for the NYC-based product businesses.
Emily Webster, a 2013 Next Top Maker Finalist from Tangeez, also provided insight on how she raised $51,000 for her illuminated building blocks through Kickstarter.
A few important elements that Kickstarter community managers recommended incorporating into a Kickstarter project:
1. A Well-Crafted Story
Every Kickstarter is a story. 80% of projects have videos. Those that don’t have videos enjoy a much lower success rate.
A video allows a team to visually communicate their plans. More importantly, it communicates WHY—often a primary reason that people decide to give. While creating a video can be intimidating, Kickstarter offers tips on its website that make video creation easier.
“The format lets you easily tell your story and communicate directly with potential customers in a natural way,” says Stephan Von Muehlen, CEO of 2014 Next Top Maker Fellow Poursteady. Poursteady recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for its automated pour-over coffee machine.
2. A Strong Set of Personal Values
"The more your project fits within your own value system—and who you fundamentally are—the more likely it is to succeed," said Dimatos. “Embrace who you are because ultimately, the project’s success rests on the community you build."
Which brings us to…
3. An Engaged Community
The community you build is more important than anything else.
With a global audience that spans over seven million people, the Kickstarter community can be an invaluable group of supporters, particularly in niche areas.
Stephan can attest to the importance of using technology to build a community of coffee lovers around his current Kickstarter campaign.
“You want the Internet to do the work for you. Blogs and competitions and email lists and social media are all very important," he says.
He also tapped into his personal network by sending simple emails to friends and family.
“No Mailchimp analytics or surveys, just an honest appeal to the people I care about," says Stephan.
And even if your project doesn't get funded, the Kickstarter team reminds makers to not lose hope. Many creators have failed and tried again, like the ‘Coolest Cooler’ project, which fell short of its $125,000 goal last Christmas. Yet 8 months and $13.3 million later, the Coolest Cooler went on to become the most-funded Kickstarter project of all time.
Since the October event, several members of the Next Top Maker community have launched, or are in the process of launching, their own campaigns! Be sure to check out and support Makeosity and Poursteady. Congrats to Bheard on getting funded!
“The folks at Kickstarter were great to talk to. Reach out to them and get their input and support early on. Your success is their success, so use them as a resource.”
- Stephan Von Muehlen, CEO of 2014 Next Top Maker Fellow Poursteady
Fun Fact: Makeosity worked with fellow Next Top Maker BlackBox to print a prototype of their scooter in carbon fiber, a perfect example of the collaboration that Next Top Makers enables!
To learn more about the Next Top Makers program, please visit their website.