Kickstarter: Our Retrospective

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Last week, we successfully funded our craft construction toy on Kickstarter. We raised about 290% of our goal, directly from preorders of Simbrix.  We set a modest goal as we wanted more than anything to get Simbrix into people’s hands and see what they would create with it. During two years of development and looking for ways to get the toy made and distributed, we have learned a lot from mistakes – not just our own but those of other Kickstarter projects too.

First Time Around

Our first Kickstarter campaign ran April and May 2015, and was managed by a very capable team of young people. However, we went in with little idea of what to expect from the crowdfunding process and pretty soon we realised that Kickstarter had us beat. We stalled at just 20% of our goal, , and despite being chosen as a featured project by the Kickstarter admins, we did not get much further during the rest of the campaign. Had we set too high a goal? Perhaps. But we later learned from our more successful friends that Kickstarter is where you bring your crowd, not where you build one. Our biggest mistake had been a lack of preparation before the campaign even began.

Simbrix creations party hardy

Second Time Lucky

After our first campaign attempt, a lot of our team went on to their dream jobs, with the experience they had gained from working at Simbrix, and the inventor reflected. From refining the design with the help of some very critical children, to sharing the final product with very enthusiastic people  at craft fairs, to falling short of the funding goal for the first production run, Assim now found a change of tactic in order. Using a small grant and his own money, Assim continued the development of Simbrix, introducing eight new colours (including glow-in-the-dark) and pushing the project as far as it would go under its own steam. Though costly, this meant that no momentum was lost when a new team of passionate graduates took up the Simbrix baton. They also had the benefit of Assim’s experience and continued a learning process that had actually begun months before in the original campaign.

The new team set to work immediately on new projects using stop motion animation and begun a fresh exploration of the creative potential of Simbrix. This approach was not always slick, as our Three Little Pigs adaptation shows, but the homemade style stayed true to the creative appeal of the toy itself. We shared our craft creations with artists, gamers, parents and craft-lovers on social media. Although it was hard to give an idea of the tactile playing experience which made Simbrix such a success at craft fairs, lots of people were very keen to play with Simbrix themselves and we received lots of requests for samples from bloggers and podcasters. These were just a few of the ways that we continued to build up an audience to take with us to Kickstarter.

The work that we did prelaunch seems to be the key to the success of our second launch. Not all our preparation was fruitful. We took Simbrix to several prelaunch platforms, including Prefundia and Launch Rock. Without payed promotion, however, we did not get much traction out of this. We did a little bit of payed promotion on Facebook, which was helpful. In hindsight, we could have done more of this. A friend who launched his hammock on Kickstarter gave us some valuable tips on companies offering their services in crowdfunding promotion and marketing. Though many of them did not result in backers, he recommended Backershub and Backerclub, describing them as “great” and “very good” respectively. If you’re considering such a service, then it is worth speaking to someone who has used them already.

Kickstarter Oversight

The biggest mistake we made in our second campaign was being too precise in our shipping fees. We did not factor in the cost of packaging (other than our unbleached cotton bags), which has cost us a bit. Even worse, the shipping fees that we posted in pounds and pence, were automatically rounded down to the (often not nearest) pound. It’s amazing how a few pence here and there can rack up quite a loss! Never mind. We hope that you will learn from our mistake.

Summing Up

All things considered, the result of our second campaign was pretty good. Backers from eighteen different countries preordered Simbrix. Thanks to them we smashed our target to get Simbrix ready for order. Our small target means that we are looking to future sales at craft fairs (see Events) and online to develop the business. So, if you weren’t one of our original backers then you’ll still have the opportunity to get some Simbrix and start building things right from your imagination.

For those of you planning a Kickstarter campaign, the very best of luck! Please connect with us on Kickstarter, Twitter or Facebook and tell us about your project! Here’s three things we hope you will take away till then:

Be Passionate and persevere.

Prepare thoroughly and seek advice.

Only a mistake where you learn nothing is a mistake.