The Freelancers Show 087 - Kickstarter Campaigns with John Saddington

Download MP3

John Saddington joins the Freelancers to talk about building a successful Kickstarter campaign.


REUVEN: Let’s hope my neighbor does not practice piano during this week’s show. [Hosting and bandwidth provided by the Blue Box Group. Check them out at] [You're fantastic at coding, but do you have an action plan to take it to the next level? The upcoming book, Next Level Freelance, will help you optimize your freelance business for happiness. The book is packed with actionable steps to make more money, case studies, tips to find more clients, and exercises for you to establish your desired lifestyle. Extras include: 9 interviews with freelancers who make great money while enjoying great work-life balance, videos on strategies to find quality subcontractors, and videos on making more free time by outsourcing your daily tasks. Check it out today at!] [This episode is sponsored by Planscope. Planscope is a project management and collaboration net built for freelancers in the way they work with clients. It makes it easy to price out new estimates and once you’re underway and help answer the question, these get done on time and under budget. I’ve been using Planscope to do my estimates and manage my projects and I really, really like it. It makes it really easy to keep things in order, and understand when things will get done. You can go check it out at] CHUCK: Hey everybody and welcome to Episode 87 of The Freelancers’ Show! This week on our panel, we have Reuven Lerner. REUVEN: Hello there! CHUCK: Curtis McHale. CURTIS: Hello! CHUCK: We have a guest panelist, and that’s Mandy Moore. MANDY: Hello! CHUCK: I’m Charles Max Wood from We have a special guest, and that’s John Saddington. JOHN: Yes. CHUCK: John, since you haven’t been on the show before, do you want to introduce yourself real quick? JOHN: Yeah! My name is John, and I’m here in Atlanta, Georgia. I’ve been married for now 8 years, I have 2 beautiful daughters, and I am a fulltime entrepreneur having built my own companies for the last 6 years, have raised angel and venture capital. Prior to that, I worked in the enterprise; I was an executive at a Fortune 50 and then an engineer before that. I have two Master Degrees and an undergraduate degree from Georgia Tech. CHUCK: Oh wow! REUVEN: Wow! CHUCK: And then you also wrote a book about “Kickstarter”, is that right? JOHN: It’s an eBook. CHUCK: Does that not count? JOHN: Well, eBooks are so simple to build these days that I’m not it has the ‘ganache’ as it used to. But, it is an eBook, and it has sold very well. It has helped a lot of people with their kickstarter; it kind of crowdfunding success, so that’s been very satisfying for me personally. CHUCK: Very nice. How did you get started doing kickstarter things? JOHN: I can’t even remember the first kickstarter project that I backed, and I’m not even sure where I’ve heard about it. But some tap through the inter-website, I got a taste of it and I just became obsessed with it. I had backed over 200 projects for selling. I can’t even imagine how much money I’ve spent through it. But I had never considered doing my own project. So earlier this year, in March, I was literally saying, I’m on the couch with my wife after putting the kids down, and she said, “Hey, why don’t you further that project you’ve been working on for the last 6 months on the Kickstarter and just see what happens?” Being fairly pragmatic, I said, “Sure, why the hell not?” and I built 90% [of] the campaign that night. It took me about 4 hours, and I woke up 4 hours later – I went to sleep, went woke up 4 hours later, did these 6 videos that I thought was necessary, finished out the project profile, and launched it. Third days later, I had $56,500 and I had a definite timeline for delivering this project. CHUCK: Interesting. What was the project? JOHN: It’s an iOS application. I had concept at an [unclear] Instagram competitor late last year. I was disenfranchised from Facebook…or actually, I hate Facebook, and then I felt really lame about being on Instagram. So I’m very much like many other people here on this podcast, as developers, you can build your own thing. So I had concepted a way to create filtered photos and publish them directly to WordPress, to an iOS app, and I was going to provision it for myself (I wasn’t going to actually share it with anyone), and I built it nights and weekends as I was working on my other startup adventure. Six months later, starting September of 2012, and at March of 2013 is when my wife had suggested the Kickstarter thing, so it went from being a very private project to either a public one. CHUCK: I’ve been looking at the guidelines for Kickstarter, or at least I looked at them a while ago, and they kind of cautioned people against building projects that were a business or something like that. JOHN: Yeah, the Kickstarter Terms of Service have changed dramatically over the last couple of years and even more so in the last 12 months. Projects that would not have made it today were actually past-previous since. So if I had submitted kind of my concept and project today, I don’t believe I would have been accepted because now, they no longer accept social applications. So 6 months ago, they were fine with that, and then 6 before, they keep heading the more loose guideline. So they’ve really firmed it up and changed the guidelines overtime as the community has gotten bigger. I’m not sure what the Terms of Service are now, but they really love kind of the maker community. Physical products is really what they really like and Indiegogo, the other kind of major crowdfunding website will usually take anything, I believe; I think they have a much less stringent requirements. REUVEN: I’ve never participated in Kickstarter, although I’ve often seen pages on it; I have seen people say that they’re going to waste money on it. So for those of us who are sort of naïve about it or inexperienced about it, other than knowing that it’s a crowdfunding platform, can you explain what it is? And more importantly, I think, what the motivation is? Like why would you, as someone who’s going to make something want to get it funded through Kickstarter? And more importantly to me, why would I want to pay money to something that’s on Kickstarter? How is it different from buying a product from someone? JOHN: I think that’s a great general question; I think that’s a great kind of foundational question. Crowdfunding, in general, is a very new concept that very much in terms of technology is related. It’s this idea of people coming around a project and a person and supporting that project toward completion financially. In return, they typically get some sort of token, kind of a product or the actual product itself, and in a lot of ways, they just get good feelings. Now, why is this happening? Why do people give a rep about crowdfunding? I think it’s because in a lot of ways, we have (1) I believe, there’s an entrepreneur at all of us, and we just love watching people do the things that they’re passionate about. Not all of us get to do that; not all of us get to do that all the time. They’re pure and [unclear] in all of our lives where we have to kind of get things done. So it’s enjoyable to watch other people execute on their passions. Secondly, crowdfunding allows us to join them in that narrative, in that story. So it’s not so much as tossing money kind of into a black hole and hoping that it gets to the end result. You get to be a part of that story as a person and the creator of the entrepreneur, the inventor builds the application of the project in real-time, and there’s something very satisfying about that. As a result, at the end, you’d get something back, either the product itself or T-shirts or some tokens of gratitude or [unclear] represented; that can be a very satisfying thing. MANDY: Speaking of tokens and stuff, besides T-shirts, what other kinds of things do people typically offer as rewards or tokens of appreciation? JOHN: Oh geez! I have seen tons of stuff. I’ve got paraphernalia of every kind, from T-shirts to stickers to the actual products, to coffee mugs, the products might be actually signed, to a poster, to digital arts, I’ve gotten eBooks. I know that some people that loves larger projects will give you credit within like the production if it’s a video production or a movie. Or even maybe your ability to be a guest in the movie or like a stand-in. So the reward is expanding in the entire gamut of possibilities. I support a lot of video games so these video game projects, the ultimate result is me getting the actual product and perhaps a beta or alpha keys so I can test it early. Or, maybe you need digital good within the actual ecosystem that’s unavailable to typical consumers. Geez! The sky is the limit. For me, in particular, for my app, I give credit within the application itself or at least a link, eternal link within the application that say, “Hey, these are where the backers of a project to end.” I think that’s something very special to a lot of the backers to say, “Hey, I want a part of the story,” and no one else can claim that. MANDY: Very cool. CURTIS: With the stickers to giveaways, well, it could be precious to them because I have some, but I don’t’ actually remember, and I got 2 shirts as well. JOHN: I give away some shirts and some stickers and then I had some excess so I put those as an opportunity for other people who want a part of the kickstarter project originally to purchase those. Honestly, for me to make a little bit back in terms of the actual financial cost, being kind of a digital guy – and I imagine many of you guys are digital natives – we had no concept of physical products and shipping those and warehousing. I grossly underestimated the cost of shipping goods especially internationally. I lost in ton of money shipping overseas, and actually, that ate into my entire budget. It was really a sad kind of thing. It was a huge lesson learned for me, but I would never do that again. CHUCK: That’s one thing that I ran into. I did an Indiegogo campaign to try and raise money so that I could finish the website that I’ve been working on in my spare time, which is non-existent really, for my podcast and I offered stickers as a reward. It ate up at least half the money that I pulled in. JOHN: Oh, geez! CHUCK: Printing them and then shipping them out. JOHN: Yeah, the average shipping cost was like, international or overseas regardless of where it was international, was like $18. I had requested $13 to cover, kind of like $12 or $13 flat rate to cover anything international so out with the gate, I was losing money on every shipment. Those were like Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Australia, those were $35 to ship a T-shirt, and it’s just supposed to like – it was so painful going to the post office [chuckles]. But it is what it is. REUVEN: If you support a video game, how is it different from just buying it? JOHN: Well, again, you get to be a part of that story. There’s some options to get some of the paraphernalia and some of the tokens of appreciation that one would not be available to kind of a normal consumer like credits within the application of the game, collectible items, unique, maybe even digital goods within the ecosystem, like a special avatar if it was kind of a complex social game. Those things are, for a lot of people, are very interesting to get. Those are collector’s items. MANDY: How important is having the video on the Kickstarter campaign? JOHN: Man! Super important. In fact, this part of what I wrote in the eBook, I actually did kind of a test case of my own video usage. Kickstarter also suggests, “Hey, it’s like crazy 80% of those who do a video get funded as opposed to 20% who don’t.” But even kind of iterating on my video, I did 4 iterations of my video. The first one, I did like it’s 5 in the morning, it was terrible, but it got me out the gate, and I had like it’s [unclear] 15% completion rate which converted to something like 9% conversion rate on people funding the project. I quickly reduced it from a 5-minute video to 3 ½ and went from 18% kind of playthrough rate to a 15% conversion. And then I iterated again, and went down to like a minute, and then it went shots for like 35%. And then I did it again and I went to 50%. And the video has just gotten better and better, and the conversions got higher and higher. So even in my 30-day period iterating four times, I could very quickly see the results, which was really kind of cool. I talk about it now in the eBook. MANDY: What should be in the video? What kinds of things do you put in there to try and – is it like a sales pitch? JOHN: I think it depends. For a lot of people, it’s compelling narrative, a compelling story as to not just what the product is or the project is, but the why? I think that’s the most fascinating thing. That’s what certainly pulls me into the 200 or so projects that I’ve backed because I want to know why the heck should I care? And the product itself might not actually be something that I’m vastly interested in, but the story behind it is something that compels me to support it, and I can’t even tell you why. Maybe it’s an emotional reaction, but it’s a guy who works in 9-5 sales job but who’s always wanted to train dogs or something, and he has this crazy idea about the small application or a small product that will get him to do this life passion, which is training dogs. I feel so compelled to that person; I think that’s awesome. He has the guts and courage to go public with something so weird and so something out of my comfort zone and my world that I’m like, “Yeah! I’d totally support that. I love that you have the guts to do that, and I want to join you in the story to see that happen.” Another one that I’m really passionate right now is kind of the spiritual air to, geez, at a class of Nintendo game…I’m having a brain fart…Mega Man. The original producers and video game creators of the Mega Man series in Nintendo have come back after 18 years or 2 decades or whatever. They’re like, “Dude, we’re going to do this again, but we’re going to do it with modern technology,” and I’m like, “Hell yeah!” I love the Mega Man series and I want to be a part of that story, and they blew through their million-dollar campaign budget and went to 3 million or something, and now they’re building it in real-time and I get to be a part of that story, and man! That’s going to be awesome! MANDY: You said that Kickstarter mainly funds products. Now, is it possible for like – I have this vision as passion because I am the virtual assistant, I’m Chuck’s assistant, and I am constantly turning down work because other developers want to hire me to help them. So I am currently trying to turn myself into a business for developers so I can match assistance with developers because it’s kind of a niche that hasn’t really been tapped into yet, so I want to get my business going. Is that something that is possible with you with Kickstarter or not? JOHN: Kickstarter wants to have, generally speaking, a product or something that will eventually end in the hands of their supporters. Indiegogo, though, is much more flexible and they support things that are not so tangible. For example, a friend of mine who has a partner did an Indiegogo campaign to help support his wife’s business and they are raising support for a road tour where they would go around with this kind of beat up van which a lot of the funds are going to fix up the van, and they’re going toward the United States and come back and kind of share their vision for women and empowering young women. So that was more of a service if you will, and a business-oriented project which Indiegogo was really fine with launching. MANDY: Very cool. JOHN: Cool, yeah! Kickstarter is just – I think it’s changing people’s perception of entrepreneurship. I think it’s changing people’s perception of how to literally, not just figuratively, but literally kickstart their future. Now, there’s a crowdfunding meetup group here in Atlanta, and I know there’s a few other around the world. But here in Atlanta, [unclear] here in Atlanta who have their entire lives have changed. They created couple of husband-and-wife combo and just came over with their kind of a new – I don’t even think that it’s a very new concept – but a different way to do coffee. And they just launched this prototype coffee machine and they thought they’re going to raise $30,000 and they raised $2 million or something. Now, they both quit their jobs and now they’re doing their passion – their coffee rosters. Another 2 guys here in Atlanta create a zombie board game of all things. They were trying to raise $15,000; they ended up raising up $2 million. They went from, in 30 days, they went from ‘guys who had this crazy idea for a zombie board game’ to literally millionaires. That’s unbelievable. Even being a part of it so close as a supporter and as actual project owner, it still boggles my mind like that even can happen. And we were just kind of getting started on it. REUVEN: Are there any strings attached to the money? These guys who made the zombie board game and they were given $2 million, what if they decide, “If each of us, let’s say the two of us, we each get a million dollars, we pay up for our homes, go around the world, done!” JOHN: Yeah, there are definitely legals of collections. The site is held accountable or the project owners are held accountable. The users can actually litigate if the project is not delivered. It always happen a couple of times. In most cases, if the product isn’t delivered, a refund mechanism is appropriate and has been done many times over. With that being said, most projects actually deliver not on time…Or, there’s probably a better way to say that, most projects deliver late. Even in my case, I delivered a little bit late myself which was unfortunate because I became a statistic. But even then, it’s not so much about the delivery of the product necessarily. A lot of people support it because we helped the project get completed, or we love being a part of the story and seeing the creators pursue their passion. So I don’t mind getting my stuff late. In fact, there’s some projects that finished late last year that I still haven’t gotten. One was supposed to deliver for Christmas 2012 and I still haven’t got it, and we’re hoping for Christmas 2013. Who cares? I really don’t care. It’s going to be a cool game; when it comes out, we’d get it. But if it’s a year late like, “Oh, well,” I’m not going to sue them. MANDY: Are these funds taxable? How’s that work? JOHN: Actually, that’s a great question. I haven’t looked into it, and I’m certainly going to look into it in the next couple of months as a year for tax season. But, I think it can be verified as a donation. There is no strings attached in the Kickstarter organization. I think you can provide a taxable write off for your users, but not many project owners actually do that. Kickstarter takes a percentage about like a 2 point percentage of the fees plus whatever the Amazon fees are. So it ends up being 4%-5% of whatever the total is goes to the pockets of Kickstarter and Amazon. So out of $56,500, I came away with something like $51,000 or something. CHUCK: The thing that I’m really interested in with all of these, we’ve talked a lot about the mechanics, but I want to talk about how to make a winning campaign. You’ve talked about how people become part of the story, but how do you create that? How do you create a compelling story so that people get excited about putting money toward your campaign? JOHN: There are 2 things that I’ve seen worked very well. It’s combination of both luck and tactical execution. The first is, I think there is something very important about the story. The product can be something very compelling in its own right, but sometimes, the delivery is just as important, if not more important, than the actual product itself. You can think of many times where you may not necessarily remember who – you think of a significant event that you’ve had in the past – you may not remember who was there or what was actually said, but you remember how you feel. That’s very important. There’s something very powerful about the ‘emotive experience’. So I think, when people who are deeply passionate about whatever their project or their product is, that emotion is very compelling when it’s delivered synchly and very tactically well. Secondly, you need to be able to broadcast the crap out of it. A compelling story is only a compelling story and successfully compelling story when a lot of people hear it – a lot of people experience it. That’s the power of social media, I suppose. It’s when you can get on as many blogs and tweets and Facebook likes as you possibly can so that more people encounter your story and your projects as a natural consequence. And if they can make that emotive kind of emotional connection, then you may have a true backer. So I try to create that as best as I could and I’ve seen that pattern of success throughout many of the Kickstarter projects or something just so compelling, then I’m like, “Man, that’s awesome.” And then the actual product itself, sometimes a mediocre [chuckles] but it’s the emotional connection, and of course, like they said, distribution of your network in marketing. MANDY: I saw that, as far as timeline goes, that the shorter you have like the campaign runs, the more money you make as opposed to having it go over, say, 3-6 months. Why is that? JOHN: Statistics do show that the 30-day market is really pretty much the target to set. But psychologically – think of it in your context, in your own experience – when something kind of bleeds over beyond a month, there’s some kind of a mental fatigue, or there’s forgetfulness that begins to happen. There’s an effect of just not having at being top of mind or a sense of urgency, “Oh, 45 days or 60 days, sure I’ll get around to supporting that up; that’s 2 months of time.” But when you think about in the context of a month, 30 days like [sound] that goes really quickly. So feeling of naturally more compelled to support a project that has a deadline that they feel is close rather than something that they can put off on their calendar and then forget. And there’s probably much more true scientific research around that, but from the blogs and some of the collateral material that I’ve read, that makes entirely a lot of sense. MANDY: That makes sense. CHUCK: Uhm-hmm. JOHN: When I did 30 days, it worked. CHUCK: How many campaigns, how many Kickstarter campaigns have you actually run? JOHN: I have run one, and I’m not sure I will ever do it again [chuckles]. CHUCK: [Chuckles] JOHN: Actually, my wife has demanded that I never do it again, which is so funny because she’s the one who suggested that I do it in the first place. CHUCK: [Chuckles] JOHN: I rode a retrospective after the 30 days and I said, “It literally killed, almost, literally killed me,” and that is actually true. I averaged about 3 hours of sleep a night for those 30 days, I lost 10 pounds, I really disenfranchised my kids, and I was a deadbeat husband. That’s partly due to my behavioral dynamics on the way than I’m built; I obsess about things. So the moment I launched that campaign, that is the only thing that I found about for 30 days. And the nights that I did sleep were aided by sleep medication because all I want to just think was that the next donor, the next donor, and the next donor, the next marketing initial, the next campaign, what can I do to iterate on the video or the products or the marketing pages. What small app or website can I build to create a viral effect? Because I am a developer and I’m capable of doing these things, I’m the only guy who’s doing it. And because I’m the only guy doing it period, I have to see everything from financials that  marketing to a development, and I’m not a marketer so I had to quickly learn how to become a marketer. But here, what’s so funny is post Kickstarter. I learned that most of the successful campaigns have marketing managers, that most of these projects aren’t just that one guy in the basement in his underwear who has a dream and present it on Kickstarter. That is actually lesson to model now than before. These are strategic, tactical, like CL-16 marketing teams that just kick the crap out of these campaigns. And I wasn’t actually – I don’t generally an outlier out. I’m the guy that’s kind of do it myself, and I was like, “Holy shit!” like, “What was I thinking? I should have got a team!” and part of the campaign budget is allocated to pay the marketing team post the Kickstarter or event. Man! So I killed myself, and I will never do it again. It was really tough. REUVEN: I must say, everything you said in perspective, a much better perspective in greater depth. Because I had this image, again, not being experienced with Kickstarter but having heard about it, that I said, “Oh, okay. So what Chuck did was, he thought of something and he put up 4 videos, each one will be better than the previous one, and he did that for a month, and he ended up with 50 somewhat thousand dollars! That’s not bad.” But it sounds like you’re working really, really hard that month, and the other people who are doing campaigns are not only working hard, but they have people helping them work hard and advising them so they can be as successful as possible. JOHN: Oh, yeah, that is the reality – if there’s anything to take away from it, it’s not as easy as it looks and there is sacrifice. My family felt those 30 days without a father and husband, and my partners in my company felt like they had lost a significant part of their development staff, their product lead, and their visioncaster. I profusely apologized to everyone relationally in my network and said, “Man, I had no idea.” My wife gave me an incredible amount of grace and she loves me, and of course, we survived and we didn’t sign the divorce papers. But man, it was so stressful. Yeah, I will never do it again [laughs]. CURTIS: But you’d recommend to people have another business kind of – I guess you know what happened to 8 bit later – if there’s anything you think you could have done differently with the campaign to continue – 8 bit’s surviving for those who don’t know it did not. It did not survive long after the campaign; I have no idea if that was the issue. JOHN: Yeah, it goes into some kind of deep waters. CURTIS: What I only want to ask…just advice. JOHN: It wasn’t a direct impact for sure, but it did certainly send me personally in direction. I had no idea in 2013, I was going to be so involved in iOS application, and I end now. So some of the kind of global advice is that there is a cost; there’s a cost associated to any new venture, and it’s not just a willy-nilly, “Hey, I think we’re going to throw some of the kickstarters and see what happens.” It’s a, “I’m going to commit to this for 30 days,” or whatever of the campaign length and, “I want to do this as hard as I can.” And that makes sense because you’re not going throw away something on Kickstarter that isn’t something very near, dear to your heart. It’s going to be something you’re passionate about; something that you’re hoping that will literally change the trajectory and course of your life for a lot of these people. So you’re going to put everything that you have into it. I just didn’t think through that part. I didn’t think it was going to be that big of a deal especially because I’ve been developing it nights and the weekends, I was like, “Yeah, what the hell. We’re just throwing on and see what happens.” Man, like, “Oh, geez!” like I had no idea, and no one had written about it. I think that’s the one, the bigger thing. No one had said, “Hey, you’re going to commit relational suicide in the next 30 days if you do this by yourself and you’re not prepared.” Everyone had said, “Hey, look at what happened! I got funded in a day!” and everyone dreamed that that’s going to happen; those are the outliers. But it’s, “Oh, my god, we got $2 million for the first week, and then we just coasted for the next 3 weeks.” Those are all the scenarios you’d read and not the ones of, “Hey, that was a total suckfest.” CURTIS: You had a very different funding story because quite near the end, you had, I guess, a shocking withdrawal, or a withdrawal of one of your biggest backers, right? JOHN: Oh, yeah. The founder of WordPress, Matt Mullenweg, and I had a relationship. He was a partner of 8 bit; we’re the 5th partner to automatic so we have a very good relationship. He funded $10,000 within the first 32 hours, which was fantastic! It gave a huge bump to the campaign. To make a long story very short, within a few days of the campaign ending, he pulled this $10,000 pledge which was 20% of $50,000 in which was a very significant kit financially and emotionally. We were covered in the short, but that was very stressful. MANDY: How did you market your campaign? What kinds of things that you do to spread the word and get people to donate? JOHN: A number of tactical things. One, I created a systematic approach to marketing. Again, I’m not a marketer, I’ve never held a marketing job, I know enough to be dangerous, but I’m really just an engineer in a product. But I think it’s just the amount of personal notes, everything. I read an article where it said that the top 10 most successful kickstarter projects ever to be funded at the time when I launched mine, they averaged 1.78 updates a day, which is 2 updates a day. I was like, “Holy crap!” that’s 2 updates a day. So I made that the number 1 priority, then I’m going to update twice a day, as ridiculous as that sounds, I’m going to update twice a day. I’m also going to create a newsletter, and I’m going to create some strategic landing pages for systematic viral campaigns throughout the 4-week process. I’m going to take statistics on everything, from the quality of the videos to conversion metrics to landing page to likes in Twitter then tweets, and continue to attract those dealing. That’s part of the reason why I didn’t sleep at all on those days. I was so embedded with data, I’m going to then execute against those every night. I read some of that in the eBook, and I just execute against that plan. Every 4 hours, I would check, refresh, check, refresh. There are some available open source scripts which actually tabulates some of the data in real-time so you don’t actually have to do raw math, and you can just say, “Whoa, wow! That was really effective. I should double down the math,” and just kind of execute through the plan. I wished I had a team because that would have been really nice, but nope, it was just me. MANDY: When you say updating, do you mean updating on the Kickstarter campaign page twice a day? JOHN: Yes, the updates. So sending out messages through all the backers and then publicly. It feels ridiculous and you really is ridiculous, but that’s what I did. And I did exactly 1.78 updates, or something like that – 1.8 updates for 30 days. REUVEN: When you say updates, updates to what? Like to the campaign page, to a blog? JOHN: Yeah, for the Kickstarter – the Kickstarter has an internal messaging system and those are called ‘updates’ to backers, and then those are public view visible. So I did 2 a day, 3 some days, and then 1 on some days, and I averaged literally 1.8. MANDY: So your backers, when they give you the money, do they become like part of a group so they’ll get like email updates? JOHN: I think you should ask Curtis; he became a backer, and then he got spammed by me like 100 times for 30 days. CHUCK: [Laughs] JOHN: Yeah, he became part of a select group, the backer group, and then he could opt-in to continue to receive those updates or he could opt-out. CURTIS: Yeah, I just got emails and it was fine. I kind of expected that from a few kickstarter programs that I had been involved so I’m going to get a bunch of emails. JOHN: The thing is, you think there’s going to be update fatigue, and that actually is not the case. Again, the people commit their money to this or some are like emotionally tied-in. So if your updates are compelling and visceral and attractive and have some really meaty stuff, they enjoy that. That was kind of cool to see. I was very skeptical at first; I was like, “1.78 updates, who the heck is doing that?” But then I did it for myself and kind of responses (emails, tweets) every single time, and people just kind of get enough that they were onboard. MANDY: Exactly. REUVEN: My question with this is, during that month, you were creally not creating the thing that people had paid for you to do. So what were you updating them on, just the status of the campaign? JOHN: The status of the campaign, significant coverage that I was receiving, and bloggers fear. At some point I got on CBS Atlanta which was a CBS affiliate here, I got on Fox News in my first live broadcast which is kind of cool, they came to my office and did an interview there. I got an article on the next web, Forbes Magazine interviewed me, there’s just enough press cycle through. And then I was doing some light development; it was more of product scoping and stuff like that. And if I did have any bandwidth that was delaying some functional frameworks with the code, either wise, it was just, “Hey, this is the campaign, and that’s what we’re going to be talking about. Please tell it to all your friends.” Geez! I’m getting like flashbacks of those 30 days, and I’m like… CHUCK: [Laughs] JOHN: I’m getting dry mouth and getting nervous…[sighs]. REUVEN: [Chuckles] It sounds, to me, it’s always very self-referential. Like I’m paying money for you to do something and then I get updates on how many other people are paying money if you do that thing, and you’re updating and known that rather than doing the thing. But I guess it comes back to what you were saying that everyone wants to feel part of the story, it goes through parts. I guess the obstacles [unclear] I can think of is the public radio fund raisers when they say, “Oh, we’ve got more people coming in, and they’re calling from here, they’re calling from there, and they’re all [unclear],” and you feel like, “Wow!” and you sort of get swapped up by it. JOHN: Yeah! I love TBS and it’s kind of the Georgia affiliate here, we support them, and we just did – there’s kind of anniversary Les Miserables, and we supported that. And freaking 12 weeks later, we finally get the Blu-Ray. So there’s definitely a delay delivery. It’s not after 30 days and the product is on your doorstep. For most projects, that’s the way it is. The time delay between the campaign ending and then the product delivery, sometimes it’s years. The Mega Man, the spirit of success for the Mega Man, that’s like slide up for 2015 or something. Hopefully, I’m alive to download and install it. It’s going to be awesome. I shared that, and I tried to give a realistic depiction of Kickstarter. It was very stressful, but man, it has been very, very cool because I sold my last company as part of that, I am raising venture capital now to continue the development, I already have some financial investors for it, and I’ve got a clear road map. If you would ask me literally 6 months ago if this is what I was going to do, I would have say, “Are you out of your effing mind?” I’m fully embedded in what I’m doing, I have a very good company, it’s walking to our 4th year as a company, we have 4 partners, 7 employees, we’re growing, this is a growing year for us, like, “Are you nuts?” like, “No, I’m not going to do an iOS application,” and now here I am, I exited that company, sold the company to one of the largest and a WordPress-center companies in the world, and have very clear vision about our future. So, it’s exciting! It’s like, it was Kickstarter – Kickstarter did that. So despite all the stress and despite ‘killing myself’, it was very satisfying, and I survived, and very thankful for it. MANDY: What advice would you give to somebody? You said that you didn’t feel that you prepared very well to launch, what advice would you give to those that you wish you would have known? JOHN: The number one piece of advice is get help; get help for the administrative tasks – updating, collecting the data to provide models of execution, and get the right emotional support around you. My wife had no idea what she asked me to do. That was her fault, and my fault for not preparing, I guess. So it’s kind of collectively in the mix. But, also preparing my partners; my partners in the company, “Hey, I’m committed to doing kickstarter. I just want you to know, I’m going to be off the radar for a little bit,” for them and then for us to figure out how we work the business when the founding partner of the company is going to go AWOL for a little bit. So it’s strategically aligning the relationships around these so that you don’t feel so alone. It can be a very lonely process if you do it by yourself. With friends, I think, it could be a much more pleasant and enjoyable experience. CHUCK: Very nice. Alright, I think we’re at the end of our time, so I’m going to start winding things down. JOHN: Well, thanks for letting me share my story. I hope that your listeners can learn something from it. CHUCK: If people want to ask you questions or get your book about Kickstarter, where do people go to do that? JOHN: I can provide a link to it. I’ll be willing to give a couple copies away to your readers and listeners if you like. We could do something fun like that, so you just let me know. CHUCK: Yeah, that’d be great! Why don’t we have them comment on the show notes, the entry in the show notes, and I don’t know, the first 3 or 5 people that comment? JOHN: Yeah! CHUCK: So you have one that look? JOHN: Sounds perfect. Or, let’s challenge them with, “Hey, pitch us your idea,” and I’ll choose the best 3, or the coolest, wildest 3. CHUCK: Oh, there we go. So if you’ve got some idea that you might want to put on Kickstarter, then tell us your story. JOHN: Now, that sounds awesome. I love it! CHUCK: Alright! Well, let’s go ahead and do the picks then. Reuven, do you want to start this off with picks? REUVEN: Sure! I recently saw that one of my favorite authors, Tom Standage, has come out with a new book. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, it’s called Writing on the Wall and he calls it the ‘First 2000 Years of Social Media’. I’m not going to mention his books specifically as a pick yet, but some of you might have heard one of his first books, or maybe his first book, which is a fantastic, fantastic book called “The Victorian Internet”. It’s all about telegraph operators, and how basically back in the mid-1800s, the people who ran telegraphs did virtually everything we can think of today on the web and on the internet, and just a cool fun, fun book. Tom Standage, just I said, is one of my favorite authors so you should totally go look at his website. I’ll also leave a link to that as well. He also is an editor of the Economist, and he does a weekly podcast called Babbage about science and technology, which is great and fun. And just a last fun pick for today, I saw a blog post, I don’t remember even exactly where I saw it, that the latest revision of Unicode has come out, and it seems grasping its straws here, trying to find characters that are not yet been included. One of the characters that now you can type as an official Unicode character as of 7.0 is the ‘middle finger’. That is to say giving the middle finger as I want. CURTIS: [Laughs] REUVEN: [Laughs] CURTIS: Awesome. REUVEN: I haven’t yet seen the keyboard that supports that without Ctrl meta Alt whatever. But I’m sure the next version of Emacs will include it. In any event, I thought that was fun to look at as well. Those are my picks for this week. CHUCK: Yeah, we were giving my dad a bad time on Sunday about – he has lost 3 toes; he’s diabetic and that something that can happen – so we were giving him a bad time about the number “digits” he had because…anyway, part of the conversation – REUVEN: [Coughs] Oh, god! [Chuckles] CHUCK: So the joke was, I leaned over to him afterward and I said, “You should have said, ‘Well, I still have this one’ and then show them a middle finger.” REUVEN: [Laughs] Oh, God! [Laughs] CHUCK: That’s what made me think, “Okay, random thoughts from Chuck’s brain…” Curtis, what are your picks [chuckles]? REUVEN: [Laughs] CURTIS: [Chuckles] I’m going to pick “Grunt” and “Grunt Watch”. Grunt is a JavaScript task writer and it say just automatically those stuff for you. In a project, that compile your To-Do items and your project or your compiler, last are SaaS files, and then Grunt Watch actually does the watch. So anytime you update your files, it will actually run all the tasks that you tell it to. It is awesome and saved me a bunch of time lately. CHUCK: Alright! We also did an episode on JavaScript Jabber on Grunt, so I’ll put a link to that in there as well. Mandy, what are your picks? MANDY: I’ve got 3. Eric work in my [unclear] I bought this book, it’s called “Start Your Own Business: The Only Start-Up Book You’ll Ever Need”. It’s really good! I’m enjoying it. It’s kind of helping me get all my ducks in a row and figure out what I need to do and the steps I need to take, and so forth. The second pick I have is “”. I got a really cool logo in about 3 days from somebody that did a really good job. I had a few edits that I asked for to make, I didn’t like the text that he used the first time so he was like, “No problem, we changed the text,” so I was like, “Oh, I love it.” But the S was kind of weird, out of place so I asked him to remove it. He made a couple of edits for me and it came out great for $5. And then the third one I have is – I am not a video gamer; my fiancé all the time is asking me to get into it, but I really have no interest. But there is this game, “The Walking Dead” for my iPhone, and I’ve got into playing this and I bought all 5 episodes and the special bonus episode. The graphics are amazing, and I already played it all weekend, and I love it. So if you’re a fan of the show or the comic books, you should definitely check out the game because it’s worth it. It’s super fun! It’s like a chooser and adventure kind of thing, so it’s neat. CHUCK: Awesome. Last night, my wife and I went and saw Ender’s Game. Now, as far as it goes, it was about as good as I expected it to be, which means that it doesn’t even compare with the book. So if you’re going to go see it, read the book first, and then go see it. But it was pretty good. So I’m going to pick the “Ender’s Game Movie” and the “Ender’s Game Book”. The last time I read it, I actually listened to it on Audible, and that was actually a really nice way to pass the time driving through Wyoming because all you see is hills and stuff and then the next town is 2 hours away. Anyway, those are my picks. John, what are your picks? JOHN: Actually, I have a very simple one. I still love to check in on my WordPress community, and I really love Bootstrap. So a new framework called “Peadig”, P-E-A-D-I-G .com, combines WordPress and Bootstrap through a framework. It looks to be very impressive, so that’s kind of my single pick of this podcast. CHUCK: Alright! Well, we’ll go ahead and wrap up the show. Thanks for coming, John. JOHN: Hey, thank you so much for letting me be part! CHUCK: That was really, really terrific discussion, and I hope it helps people get an idea of what they should and shouldn’t be doing with Kickstarter or Indiegogo or whatever they decide to do. JOHN: Yeah! I hope many of the listeners pursue their passion. I think that’s what I’m in love with. I love seeing other people pursue their passions. Is there anything more exciting than that? So if Kickstarter is going to be a part of that process, awesome! If not, go do it anyway. Go do something. REUVEN: [Laughs] CHUCK: Awesome! JOHN: Thanks guys! CHUCK: Yeah, thank you! We’ll wrap up the show. We’ll catch you all next week!

Sign up for the Newsletter

Join our newsletter and get updates in your inbox. We won’t spam you and we respect your privacy.