How To Help Your Client Launch a Kickstarter Campaign

Head off Crowdfunding questions with these useful tips and resources


Crowdfunding campaigns give entrepreneurs, artists and businesses a unique opportunity to test the viability of their ideas. Yet for many, the thought of running a Kickstarter campaign can be a daunting prospect.

So how can you help de-mystify the process, and give your client the tools and support they need to embrace all that Kickstarter has to offer? Let’s take a look at some of the contributing factors that enable campaigns to reach – and indeed exceed – their funding goals.

Choosing the right platform
The first question to ask is whether or not this method of raising funds is actually suitable for your business proposal. Each crowdfunding platform has its quirks and benefits, and in the example of Kickstarter, many submissions do not even pass the approval phase. It is well worth taking the time to identify which crowdfunding option best suits your business model and potential project outcome.

Don’t be dazzled by dollar signs – just because there are campaigns raising millions of dollars does not mean that every campaign will be an overwhelming success. For the majority of campaigns, a few thousand or even just a few hundred dollars over the target amount can be a big deal.

Be prepared to work hard
Although crowdfunding has been shown to be surprisingly lucrative for some, successful outcomes are not guaranteed. It takes more than just having a bright idea; you have to know your project very well and be prepared to put time into every stage of the funding process. Understand that for every hour you spend (and there will be many!) on preparing the campaign, there will be just as much time required to maintain and promote the project through to completion. Yet even then, your task doesn’t end when the countdown stops. Assuming you are sitting on a pile of money after a successful campaign, you will need to get moving on production and manage the distribution of rewards to your backers.

There is a misconception that a crowdfunded campaign is something that can be done on the side, in your downtime or on the weekends. This is simply not true… one thing that all successful campaigns have in common, regardless of funding levels or project outcomes, is that the campaign itself was a full-time commitment.

There is a strong social media component to the Kickstarter process, with communication and personal interaction playing a large role in backer satisfaction. It can help to remind yourself that Kickstarter is not an online store, even though some backers continue to treat it like one. Integral to successful campaigns is the way people love to feel like they are involved in making things happen. This is a different consumer experience than traditional online shopping, and with careful planning you can use that to your advantage. Choose a variety of rewards including smaller contributions that can help keep people interested in your progress, even if they aren’t in a position to commit larger amounts of money during the campaign. These potential future customers can become informal brand ambassadors through their own social media activity, expanding your reach before the campaign reaches its conclusion.

Be realistic
Not all campaigns are successful, and that is ok. The reasons why a campaign does not reach its funding goals can be quite varied, and are sometimes just as mysterious as to why other campaigns dramatically exceed expectations. When setting up a crowdfunding campaign, plan out how you will navigate through both failure and success, so that your business can continue to evolve beyond the campaign timeline.

Don’t be shy – a Kickstarter campaign is a lot to take on, and it is perfectly ok to seek out help. In fact, many services are popping up that enable a streamlining of each aspect of the campaign. Gathering and processing information beforehand will help to protect you from nasty surprises and also empower you to fully exploit successes and opportunities should they come your way. Here are a few to start you off:

The Ultimate Guide to Crowdfunding
Presented by Shopify, the ecommerce solution of choice for many successful campaigns. This thorough walkthrough over 23 chapters covers all the key considerations to be aware of before taking on your own Kickstarter campaign.

How To Make a Successful Kickstarter Campaign
Using the Pebble Watch as a case study, this detailed investigation looks at how a 24 year old guy’s project with a goal of $100,000 became a $10 million record-breaker.

Tools for Kickstarter: Planning Calculator
A handy tool from Reuben Pressman, you can generate a quick overview of whether your numbers will all stack up. The calculator also includes a valuable Incentives component that will help to resolve the allocation of backer rewards.

Social Media services: Backercamp
Communication and Marketing for your campaign will get a huge boost if you call in the experts to lend a hand.

Manage your Mail: Green Inbox
With so much content flooding your clients’ email and social media, direct personalised messaging gets through to people and saves you time.

Look your best on camera: Elevant Productions
The influence a refined video clip has on campaign success rates is huge. Get it right first time for maximum impact on the small screen.

Case Studies: Success Stories
Also from Shopify, this breakdown of eleven campaigns highlights what they did right and what they did wrong, providing many valuable insights.

Analysis and Infographics
In-depth analysis of campaign metrics, trends and a very handy infographic that helps to navigate The Untold Story behind Kickstarter Stats.

The task of setting realistic goals, achievable rewards and establishing effective communication with backers is often more complex than people first anticipate. By investing a little time in making the most of these resources, the entire campaign experience becomes a whole lot more manageable. Don’t underestimate the impact that thorough preparation can have. By approaching your campaign with the knowledge that you are prepared for any surprises that may pop up – whether they are positive or negative – you will be ready to rise to the challenge.

Are you using the Ponoko Personal Factory to produce rewards for a campaign? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll discuss the best way to help you reach your funding goals.

Metal etching project hits 300% of Kickstarter goal

POLIGON Sculpture Shows What’s Possible With Ponoko’s Metal Etching Service

Unfolding into the mailboxes of many backers, the latest runaway success from Kickstarter features these elegant and refined sculptures by Poligon.

At the time of writing, pledges for the faceted brass and stainless steel creatures are about to eclipse 300% beyond the modest Kickstarter funding goal. Produced using a metal cutting and engraving process called PCM (Photochemical Machining), the clean lines and precise folds of these user-assembled sculptures have a striking visual presence and it’s easy to see why everybody wants one!

“We fell in love with the process because it doesn’t require hugely expensive tooling but gives highly accurate results with beautiful metals. It really has freed our creative thinking and these sculptures are just the beginning!” – Poligon

While we talk a lot about laser cutting and 3D printing here at Ponoko, metal cutting and engraving via Photochemical Machining is perhaps the quiet achiever. Taking less of the everyday focus, but (as we can see with the sculptures from Poligon) PCM certainly makes quite an impact from time to time. The Ponoko service is often used for intricate jewellery, and you can learn more about how Photochemical Machining works in our comprehensive overview.

Rodrigo and Matthew from Poligon had their own extensive experience in modelling and production to draw on, and the success of their Kickstarter campaign is well deserved. If you are inspired by this to give PCM a go yourself, then Ponoko has all your needs covered from laser cut card prototypes through to finely etched products in brass, copper and stainless steel.

Other Kickstarter projects that have used Ponoko’s services and exceeded expectations include the wildly successful Game Frame (1,031% over goal), the LittleRP affordable resin 3D printer (475% over goal), and the musical wonder that is Motion Synth (108% over goal).

Support Poligon on Kickstarter
Make your own PCM products with Ponoko

tINDIE: an “Etsy for electronics”

Buy, sell, and request DIY electronics projects

Tindie is a site for buying and selling homemade gadgets, kits and parts that’s being described as “Etsy for electronics”. The site is a one-man operation that came out of a post on the reddit board r/Arduino. The store has only been open for three weeks and already it is full of cool projects, from the practical (like the laser cut BeagleBone enclosure seen above) to the fanciful, like this CNC cut steel Iron Man Arc Reactor below:

Small Business Stories: interview with eco-jewelry designer Leslie Yang

Retail Ready with FiestyelleLeslie Yang is passionate about jewelry, eco-awareness and San Fancisco. Her jewelry line Feistyelle is yet another fantastic example that green design doesn’t have to be all brown rice and sandals, but can communicate a polished, modern aesthetic. A Ponoko regular for a number of years, Leslie was the first person to laser cut felt for jewelry. With that innovative approach to materials she has been evolving her ever-popular, wearable laser cut designs and regularly introducing new ideas.

Getting Started

• What made you decide to start your own business? I officially started feistyelle in the fall of 2005. At the time, I was pretty active on online crafty message boards, and some makers were starting to set up small businesses selling their work online and at shopping events. This was all pre-Etsy! It felt like the next, exciting step for me was to get my work out in front of a increasingly DIY-friendly public. I was making really different pieces during those first couple of years: brooches, hair clips, badges, out of needle felted wool and Japanese textiles.

• How did you decide on the jewelry direction? I’ve always loved jewelry, but it was actually serendipitious that I started making earrings. When I found out that Ponoko was offering to laser cut felt I about dorked out with excitement. I started by designing a dahlia brooch, and because I didn’t want to waste the felt, I threw in a smaller vector of the dahlia in remaining space. A co-worker wound up wanting to buy the brooch but when she saw the smaller pieces, she said she’d love them as earrings and asked if would I make her a pair. I said, “Sure!” and then walked to my local bead store and asked the shopkeeper sheepishly, “Um, how do you make earrings?” I poked around the bead shop and settled on the hoop design that I still use for the majority of our earring designs. When my co-worker wore the earrings to work, it started a stampede to my office of female coworkers asking for their own pair. I started to realize that I had a hit on my hands!

• What skills did you already have when you started your business and what did you have to learn? I’m a graphic designer so it was helpful to have experience in branding and packaging and of course design software. I did and still am learning about marketing, accounting, and all those very necessary business skills.

The important takeaway here is that you should know how to do everything but you should definitely not do every single thing yourself! I love the extra time I get by having a photographer shoot my product and model shots as well as a person handle online order fulfillment.More from Leslie after the jump:


Small Business Stories: interview with accessories designer John Patterson

Retail Ready with Sniffle Co entrepreneurJohn Patterson is a musician and a designer. His musical passion is expressed through The Grates, while his graphic creativity lies behind the Brisbane based company Sniffle Co which he runs alongside his friend Melissa Perry. Most of John’s designing is done on the road, and the shot of his work space (above) is an apt illustration of his working lifestyle. John designs whimsical jewelry that is laser cut from poplar plywood before being hand painted and lacquered.

Read the interview after the jump:


Small Business Stories: interview with jewelry designer Janice Law

Retail Ready with Little MisoPerth jeweller Janice Law branched out from graphic design and illustration when she came across Ponoko and realised the potential of making with Personal Factory.  Step by step, the new hobby turned into a small business – Little Miso.  The acrylics and cherry veneer are turned into spirited words, quirky characters and little tokens of happiness that are designed to make people smile.

Getting Started

What made you decide to start your own business? I never intended to start my own business, but I’ve always been interested in making, designing and creating things. It just happened as a natural progression – from wanting to make a piece of jewellery for myself, to launching collections and seeing people wear them.

How did you decide on jewellery? At the time when laser cut jewellery was just starting to grow, I stumbled upon Ponoko.  I had a few ideas on my mind that I was searching for myself, so I thought why not just make it?  Jewellery has come to be a really versatile medium. It can be made from so many different materials, shapes, sizes and colours, and suit someone that’s 5 years old or 55 years old.

What skills did you already have when you started your business and what did you have to learn? I studied advertising and graphic design, so already knew how to use vector programs, use photoshop and basic photography. My passion for illustration and design also helped with branding, packaging and marketing the products.  Getting into the real business / admin side of things was the hardest – I still struggle every time tax time rolls around.More from Janice on running her business after the jump:


Small Business Stories: interview with clock designer Maiko Kuzinishi

Retail Ready with DecoylabAs promised in December, this year we’ve started a regular feature focussing on small businesses.  This year’s first interview is with Maiko Kuzunishi who has earned a worldwide following with her Decoylab range of beautiful eco-friendly and quirky clocks.  Maiko also creates jewellery that visually echoes her clocks, and more recently she added additional products for the home to her selection of existing and ever-evolving designs

Getting Started

• What made you decide to start your own business?

It was the emptiness I felt inside after dedicating 8 years of my life to working for design companies. Some say “In order to find what you want, know what you don’t want first.” That’s exactly what I did. The career oriented mentality, competing for “Best” designs, working endlessly on computer for seemingly unimportant projects – those are the things I no longer wanted. In 2006 I resigned the company and decided to “take a break.” I had no idea what was in store for me but took a step to move away from what I did not want.

The first year was chaotic to say the least but I eventually figured out that I wanted to be a mom and I began imagining doing what I love doing and making a living. Some sort of a paradigm shift happened soon after and both things manifested (at the same time actually). I did not imagine making clocks for a living but it was exactly what I wanted. After that, my focus has been to not waste my time (life) on something I cannot pour my heart and soul into.

Read the full interview with Maiko after the jump: (more…)

Small Business Stories: creating a show-stopping trade show booth

Retail Ready with Made On Jupiter

If you’re a small business owner, exhibiting at a trade show is something that can really boost your business. Not only will you meet lots of prospective clients and buyers, but those places are always packed with members of the press. I’ve been to a handful of ICFFs, Stationery Shows, NeoCons, and lots of art fairs — and let me tell you, your booth design makes all the difference.

When it comes to trade shows, your booth matters more than your product. So what does it take to create a booth everyone wants to visit? Well it isn’t easy, but it’s certainly attainable.

Just ask Made on Jupiter, the digital fabrication specialist branch of New Zealand based design collective Jupiter Jazz.

Their latest project was the Puffer, a cumulus-cloud looking trade show booth developed for Siggraph Asia. The time lapse video above shows the assembly of over 1000 uniquely shaped cones to create the booth.

Tom Kluyskens published a detailed account of how his team went from design idea to booth build in less than 5 weeks.


Small Business Stories: interview with jewelry designer Kimono Reincarnate

Retail Ready with Melanie Gray Augustin

To some people, creativity is as natural as breathing or the love of freshly baked bread. Being a creative mind or a pathologically hands-on designer is one [wonderful] thing.  However, creativity doesn’t always translate successfully to business savvy. Creativity often covets freedom and experimentation, but business demands discipline and focus.  Fortunately, there are still plenty of creative entrepreneurs to inspire those with a design vision to start their own business.

In the New Year we are starting a new feature that will focus on all things small business. Don’t worry; there will be none of that tedious business school textbook material.  As part of the small biz feature, we will bring you regular interviews with Ponoko Makers who rely on Personal Factory to create their line of products, be it household objects, jewelry, electronics enclosures or other made on demand goods.

As an extra dose of pre-holiday inspiration, we’re giving you a sneak peak at the interview series!

Meet Australian jewelry designer Melanie Gray Augustin.   Her label Kimono Reincarnate perfectly expresses her design style: modern handmade jewelry that features upcycled materials – inspired by traditional Japanese textiles and design.Read the full interview after the jump: