Use Indiegogo to start up your business and crowdfund your products or services. Crowdfunding is not only a great way to raise money to cover manufacturing and inventory costs, it can help you gauge demand and build a network of early adopters.
Running a hardware campaign
Running a hardware campaign on Indiegogo is a great way to present your new product to an engaged, global audience for feedback, funding, and fine-tuning.
Leverage a soft launch
Campaigns that have many contributions within the first days after launch instill trust and credibility among a wider audience. A helpful way to estimate your total campaign goal is to define how much your team and inner circle can contribute, and then multiply that number by three.
Your wider audience is more likely to fund campaigns that have raised a higher percentage of their total goal. Therefore, it’s advantageous to set your goal as low as possible and leverage your inner circle to secure initial funding.
This way, when you contact your wider audience – and the media – they’ll see your campaign already has momentum. This is especially important with hardware campaigns, as strangers may doubt your product until they see that others already trust you. It’s all about validation.
Show how people use your product in their unique ways
Be sure to highlight how your product will impact people’s life and provide concrete examples. Clearly state the problem your product solves, then show how.
Prepare for success
Know what you’re looking for beyond funding and find out how you’ll get it before you launch your campaign. Questions you should ask include: can you scale if your campaign goes viral? Is there a limit on the quantity of a specific perk you’re offering? Are you aiming to produce a one-off product, or to start a business? Do you want to attract the attention of distributors, or is the whole point to gauge market interest and solicit user feedback? The more you ask, the better prepared you’ll be.
If you’ll use PayPal as a payment processor, contact them before you launch and let them know you plan to run a crowdfunding campaign. The last thing you want is to watch your successful campaign have its payments shut down because it set off one of PayPal’s risk algorithms.
PayPal requires that all pre-orders be fulfilled within 30 days, so it’s a good idea to work with them to make sure your campaign doesn’t feature any binding language.
If you are not sure if you'll be able to ship goods within 30 days, PayPal requires you to include a disclaimer on your campaign site and marketing material that states that you “will make a best effort to provide the perk but delivery is not guaranteed.” In addition, PayPal might ask you to submit further information so they can verify your campaign. Some examples include:
- Full legal name
- Date of Birth
- Tax Identification number or Social Security number
- Government issued photo identification
- Website address associated with your campaign
- Proof of tax exempt status if you’re a nonprofit
- Your business plan and mission statement
- Names of your business owners and executives
- Marketing strategy
- Vendor, supplier, manufacturer, or distributor information
- Target production and distribution timeline
PayPal may ask fundraisers to provide supporting documentation to confirm their identity and/or business, or to confirm how the money from the campaign will be used. Please read PayPal's article on crowdfunding for more in-depth information.
Know how to ship everywhere
Indiegogo is an international platform, and if you have a hit product, people from around the globe will want it. Make sure you have answers to the following questions: Is shipping built into the Perk level? Should they add an extra $5? Should they pay you separately? It's important to clarify in your pitch description how shipping costs will be handled. Give separate instructions for international contributors, if their shipping costs are higher. For more detailed information on shipping, take a look at Indiegogo’s Hardware Handbook.
Prepare to communicate
How you manage your contributors’ questions and concerns will influence your public perception. Include contact information on your campaign page and have someone on your team ready to answer inquiries, manage problems, and ensure your contributors are happy with your product. This is especially important if your campaign ends and there are delays in the production process. Keeping your contributors happy and informed goes a long way toward building brand loyalty.
Be open to change
Think about how you can advance other long-term objectives in addition to your immediate need for funding. Your campaign is a great chance to get feedback from future customers and even test your pricing models.
Even when a product is well designed, your audience may want something different. Your Indiegogo campaign is a great opportunity to take into account a wide and invested audience’s feedback. Real-time market testing is one of the primary benefits to launching your product through Indiegogo. Be open to making changes to your product, and think about what questions you’d like to ask the crowd.
Furthermore, when you involve your audience in this way, they feel like your project is theirs too. They aren’t just contributing – they’re helping you create something new! This type of emotional connection is an extremely powerful incentive for sharing your story.
Have a prototype
You don’t need a prototype to use Indiegogo, but the press will often want to use a product before they write about it. You may lose potential media coverage if you don’t have a prototype available for review. Similarly, showcasing a prototype in your campaign video will help build trust with your contributors.
Remember that if you’ve made something unique, you may need to spend extra time reassuring funders that your product is real and works as described. Graphics are a great tool for explaining your product in simple terms. This includes:
- Custom Headers (Campaign examples: Ubuntu Edge; Panono)
- Diagrams (Tinkerbots)
- Infographics of the production timeline (Grasshopper; MicroPhone)
- Infographics that explain perk packages (Canary; Scanadu Scout)
- Representations of Tech Specs (Skulpt; Birdi)
Projects that launch an Indiegogo campaign can be at any point in the the manufacturing process. Be as transparent as possible about what stage your project is at and how your new technology actually works. Link to outside studies and press spots that support your claims, and include a section in your pitch text that features photos and descriptions of your team. Make every aspect of your story as tangible as possible.
Promote a sense of community and keep your contributors happy by continuing to send updates regularly. If there have been changes to your project or your ability to fulfill your perks, communicate with your contributors immediately. People tend to be forgiving when they are kept in the loop.
Transparency is far more important than pretending that everything is running smoothly. People understand that your business is just getting started. By being transparent and sending your contributors regular updates, you build trust and lasting relationships.