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3 Ways to Get Noticed on Kickstarter

Author: Kristen Lund Date: May 06, 2014

Tips for launching your small business through crowdfunding.

One of the biggest challenges that would-be business owners face is funding their startup. In recent years, entrepreneurs have turned to crowdsourcing platforms such as Kickstarter, which, along with similar sites GoFundMe and Indiegogo, allows project creators to set a funding goal and a deadline, then encourage others to help make it happen.

As of April 14, backers had pledged more than $1 billion to Kickstarter projects since the site launched in 2009.

One of Kickstarter’s small-business success stories is Andrew Beltran, co-founder of watch company Original Grain in San Diego. With his brother, Ryan Beltran of Hong Kong, and longtime friend Jasem Dulany of Eugene, Ore., Beltran set out to raise $10,000 on Kickstarter last March to launch the trio’s business. By the time their campaign finished a month later, they had raked in nearly $400,000 to produce wood and stainless-steel watches.

Since then, the Original Grain team has helped other startups follow in their footsteps on Kickstarter—including watch company Lexell Stone Watches, which crushed its $15,000 funding goal by pulling in more than $220,000.

But just being on Kickstarter doesn’t guarantee funds will follow. Here are Beltran’s tips to get noticed—and get funded.

Prioritize good design. 

The title and main image of your Kickstarter page will be the first things prospective backers notice, so make sure they’re clear and compelling. Ideally, you should include a well-lit, high-quality photo of your product. The title, Beltran says, should clearly identify your product, what makes it unique and why backers should be interested.

Be authentic in your presentation. 

Many Kickstarter pages include short pitch videos, in which project creators share the story behind their venture and ask for viewers’ support. Beltran recommends that no matter how camera-shy, a business owner should be physically present in the video instead of using a voiceover. “When backers pledge into your company, they are putting a certain level of trust into you,” he says. “Providing face time will allow them to relate better.”

Like many startups, the Original Grain founders didn’t have the budget to hire a photographer or video editors, so they produced their own video using iMovie. When they hit stumbling blocks in the editing process, they turned to YouTube tutorials. Still stumped? Check out the Kickstarter School program, which offers technical tips and advice on video content.

Find your biggest fans. 

Some of the biggest boosters of Original Grain’s Kickstarter campaign, Beltran says, were bloggers. Prior to launching, the Original Grain founders offered sample watches to the writers of prominent men’s lifestyle websites Necessary Coolness and DudeIWantThat.com for promotions, reviews and giveaways. “Actual reviews will allow potential customers to believe your product is worthy and dependable,” Beltran says. He advises prospective Kickstarter entrepreneurs to search for blogs targeted toward your client base so that your products appeal to readers—and potential backers.

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