An Interview with a Kickstarter Success



As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, Robocat’s Thermodo is a brilliant little accessory that turns your phone into a thermometer. They hit their campaign goal in just a few hours, and have raised around $270K so far.

The Thermodo campaign still has a week to go, so it’s not too late to get one. If they reach their stretch goal of $500K, everyone who ordered a plastic Thermodo will get an aluminum one instead.

We asked Michael Flarup, Robocat’s chief designer, for his thoughts on how to run a successful Kickstarter campaign…

HackThings: Do you already have a manufacturing partner lined up? Where are you making this?

Flarup: Yes. We already have a Danish engineering company consulting us and they have connections to Chinese manufacturers. It’s a jungle when you first start out and with little experience in hardware production it’s important to get all the help and guidance we can get.

What did you do to prepare for marketing Thermodo before you launched on Kickstarter?

We brought with us a lot of experience from marketing our own apps and worked diligently on presenting the story in clear and concise way. We have a lot of the resources in house and produced everything ourselves, from the graphics to the video.

How did you choose your fundraising goal?

We meticulously calculated the various cost factors in developing, producing and bringing Thermodo into the world. There are so many factors in the supply chain that all need to be accounted for. When we had some figures, we went for the bare minimum fundraising goal we realistically choose. Partners and advisors urged us to go higher as there was absolutely no profit margin in the initial 35K goal and not a single dime to cover our own development costs of the campaign, the app or the SDK. Everything was set up to just cover the manufacturing and logistics. Luckily backers blew right through that initial goal, and we now have more options.

How well did you understand your production costs before setting your reward levels?

We did our best to estimate the cost of production before we started. The reward levels are based on our own experiences on Kickstarter. We then looked at the production costs and how much we would want to pay for a Thermodo if we wanted to buy one ourselves and designed our reward tiers around that.

You’ve already passed a few stretch goals in your campaign. How is that working out?

Stretch Goals is certainly working and it really adds value to a campaign once you’ve reached that initial goal. In any funding scenario there’s usually a lot of things you want to do with a project – the initial goal, in my opinion, should be designed to simply get the project off the ground. The stretch goals can then pile on and expand on the options available. It makes asking for funding a tiered system that minimizes risk and the backers feel a greater sense of ownership in the project as they can clearly see how much is needed to add this and that. It’s a win win really.

What do think is the single smartest thing you’ve done with your Kickstarter campaign?

I’m not sure there’s one single smartest thing we’ve done. We did a few things that helped push us in the right direction. First and foremost we had an interesting story to tell. The idea for Thermodo came about in a very appealing and casual way that everybody easily relates to. We did a lot of work on the video and the presentation, making sure that the story and the progress we had already been through was at the center of what we were communicating. Like the way we run our business and make our apps, we wanted the campaign to reflect the down to earth guys from Copenhagen we are and we think that honesty really resonates with people. We also think it’s important that we showed off an actual working prototype. Our product is easy to understand, but showing something that actually works just makes the fundraising that much more feasible.

Lastly we contacted press sites before we launched and made a preview of the campaign available to a selection of the media that we have good relations with. Like with an app launch, it’s important that you get good coverage when you launch your campaign and reaching out to the press for a helping hand can be  the deciding factor in how the funding turns out.

How do you feel now that you have successfully hit your funding goal?

We worked an all-nighter before we submitted the campaign for kickstarter approval, and I remember that we where all very excited but also quite unsure whether other people would want to buy something like this. There was simply that lingering feeling that we might all be mad for working so hard on something people really didn’t have any interest in. We thought it was a great idea and wanted to see a utility like this exist, but we weren’t sure if enough people felt the same way. When we hit our goal within 7 hours that pre-launch tension completely dissipated. We made it, and we did in in an absurdly short amount of time. From then on, we’ve just been really busy maximizing the potential of the campaign, keeping backers engaged and getting back to the thousands of emails we’ve received. We still feel we have a monumental task ahead of us, but at least now we know that we have the financial and ideological support to pull through.

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