Startup Toolkit
Interactive How-To Guides For Startups
Crafted for you by Casual Team

How to launch on Kickstarter

Get a pre-made project plan based on this how-to guide on
In this how-to we will tell you all the secrets to run a successful Kickstarter campaign.This story is based on Yaroslav Azhhnyuk's (CEO of Petcube) experience on Kickstarter. Petcube raised $250k on Kickstarter and is a Y Combinator alumni.

As usual, a detailed step by step project plan comes with each story. 

Make sure you really need Kickstarter

Kickstarter is, of course, the most widely known platform for crowdfunding. It enables you to draw more attention and funds for your project than any other tool.But it has its own unique features. Physical objects, devices and games are the most popular. Look at Kickstarter success stories and assess your idea: will the Kickstarter audience like it? Will it draw enough attention to be distinguished among other projects?

The Petcube team decided to launch its project on Kickstarter right away because they had a gadget related to pets which was incredibly appealing to the media.

Moreover, make sure your idea meets Kickstarter's project requirements.
If your project doesn't meet Kickstarter demands, it would be useful to look at some less popular but less limiting crowdfunding services, such as Indiegogo or Selfstarter. Lots of successful projects based on these resources have been implemented. Take for example those fancy headphones with ears that raised $2,930,631.

Plan your project

Arrange a detailed schedule which includes everything from developing the idea to sending the product to backers. Think over all the details because it often happens that an idea that has raised the necessary funds faces issues thereafter, when it’s time to implement the project.Don’t overestimate yourself. The Petcube team had expected to launch the project in 3-4 months, but it wound up taking them 14 months. They needed that much time to understand how they should mass produce the device for it to suit international standards.

Determine the duration of the campaign

A campaign on Kickstarter can last anywhere from 30 to 60 days. It is said that 60 days is too long and it spreads resources too thin. On the other hand, a 30-day campaign may be insufficient. Find the best compromise; take seasonality and holidays into account.

Evaluate the amount you need

Raise funds until you've got enough to implement the project. Don’t articulate an amount less than necessary; you will have to follow through on the promises you gave. Moreover, a small amount can make you look petty. It may seem as though you don’t appreciate the value of your idea. On the other hand, if you set the bar too high, you risk coming away with nothing. One of Kickstarter’s rules: it is always better to exceed your goal. The more money your project raises, the more backers want to buy it. Ample funding means the project must be brilliant and will definitely pan out.Petcube set their bare minimum goal at $100,000, but their idea was overfunded and wound up raising $251,225.

Estimate fees and prices

Consider how much your product will cost and how much compensation backers will receive. Estimate prices as thoroughly as possible. On the one hand, there are your prime costs and margin, and on the other, there are buyers’ price expectations. You have to strike a balance.

Kickstarter lets you give discounts for first buyers. Don’t overdo it though. Petcube sold their product at $99 for their first customers. Then they increased the price to $149. At some point, they understood that they shouldn’t have set the initial price at $99. Those who bought Petcube at this price were the most loyal customers who subscribed to the newsletter even before the Kickstarter campaign was launched. They could have probably paid more. Also, the $50 increase didn’t seem to price out many customers.
Don’t sell your product too cheaply. If you set a low price, you won’t be able to tell whether or not people are ready to pay good money for it.

Organize your promo-campaign before you launch it on Kickstarter (optional)

Many large-scale projects launch their campaigns even before they start raising funds on Kickstarter.It can prove to be extremely useful to tell everyone about your project before starting to raise funds.

Create a website to collect emails

Launch a web platform to collect email addresses of those interested in your project. This way you will also be able to test videos or texts. After some time a certain part of the audience you’ll have gathered on the site will turn into buyers.Petcube did it, and it worked. You can launch such a platform in a few hours on Launchrock or you can check our detailed how-to guide about other site builders: Strikingly and Instapage. 

Launch a preliminary PR-campaign

It is said from time to time that one shouldn't tell about one's product before launching it. The reasons are quite obvious: media, which have already written about the product once, won't do this for the second time, when you start raising funds.But Petcube decided to take a different course of action. The team organized a large wave of publications five months before they launched their Kickstarter campaign. They succeeded in getting published more than 100 times, among which there were articles on Wired, NBC News and Cnet.Anticipating things: their initial apprehensions proved to be true. For five months only Cnet and a few smaller media wrote about Petcube. Nevertheless, this preliminary campaign was useful: it enabled Petcube to collect about 3000 emails of their potential customers, raise some investments and get on a Chinese startup accelerator, HAXLR8R.

Analyze your results

A PR-campaign before getting on Kickstarter makes it possible for you to analyze how users and journalists are responding to your product, idea and positioning. It also enables you to eliminate possible mistakes before raising funds. So if you decide to tell about yourself in advance, carefully analyze feedback and make sound conclusions.

Prepare a page for your campaign

A web page for your campaign is a key point of contact with customers. Consider its launch as serious as possible and involve professionals where you don’t feel confident.That’s how the Petcube page looked like.Here are some examples of other top-notch pages:

1) Pebble

2) Playbulm

3) iBlazr

4) Lunecase

Prepare some visuals

You'll need good photos throughout your whole campaign: for its page on Kickstarter, journalists, social networks and so on. Try to make them look really cool because people tend to grasp information visually and make their conclusions about a product based on its appearance.

Write some really good texts

You actually communicate with your potential customers using texts, don't you? So write them in such a way that they would make people want to pay for your idea. Give an account of all the details, timing, and risks. Be sincere and outspoken with your backers.The most important texts are your project's name and its brief description. This information will be displayed in a “Discover” section, and this is exactly the thing on which it depends how many people will surf your product’s page on Kickstarter. By the way, according to statistics of various projects, half of the backers visit a project’s page directly from the “Discover” page!

Create a video about your product

The video which describes your product is the first and often the only thing your backers will see. Founders are usually not so good at script writing and camera work, so you’ll want to hire some professionals.
Analyze the videos of successful projects in your category on Kickstarter. There you'll find lots of useful tips and hints.You can trace two basic approaches to video making. According to the first one, the product itself is emphasized the most. Videos show how cool and functional it is. The second approach is to show people who are already using the product and how it’s changing their lives.The Petcube video was a tough task to complete; the third time was the charm. Eventually, the video showed the product itself. By the way, the video showed the logos of the media that had written some competent reviews about the project.Other examples of some good videos:


Test the Page

When you have prepared all the necessary materials and product page previews, show them to your mentors, colleagues and friends. A fresh look can help make the page better.

Prepare a journalist data bank

Make a list of journalists who might be interested in your project before launching the PR-campaign, so that your spam campaign would turn into a valuable messaging which in its own turn will convert into media publications.Try to learn about the journalists you’re listing as much as you can. Find out their specialization, how frequently they write, whether they have written about your rivals or similar products, what each of them might be interested in.

To find out more about pitching journalists check out our "Getting Free Press Coverage for Your Startup" how-to guide.

Prepare a media kit

A media kit is a set of materials about the product you offer to journalists to write about. It can be designed as a section on your website. There should be a blog with the latest news or, at least, a recent press release, quality photos of the product or any other materials which could be of use to journalists and persuade them to write about you.All these things should look as good as possible. A beautiful design will definitely attract a journalist while the most innovative idea will fade on a badly constructed website. An example of a media kit from Petcube can be found here.

Deal with the formalities

Kickstarter has many project requirements, so be aware that you'll have to spend some time on dealing with the formalities and approving your request. You can learn more about Kickstarter requirements in your country here.

Start raising funds

Are you ready? Then press the Start button!

Launch your PR-campaign

You have to launch a full-scale PR-campaign simultaneously while raising funds. Regardless of whether the project has been written about or not you have to get in touch with all the journalists who could write anything about you. People should know that your project actually exists so that they could finance it.The Petcube PR-campaign was developed by a team member and a PR-agency from Florida. It is reasonable to work with PR-agencies only for large projects with considerable ambitions. The Petcube team paid $7000 for this service. As a result, their investments were compensated, but their efficiency was much less than was expected. Petcube founders now say that they should have hired a PR-agency from San Francisco which had worked with the coolest projects. Probably, it wouldn’t have cost much more, $10 000 - $20 000.Be aware that it’s better to start working with a PR-agency 2-3 months before you start the campaign.

Negotiate with cross-promotion services

Cross-promotion services are partners with other projects on Kickstarter. You tell your audience about your partners, and your partners tell them about you.It is an interesting promotional alternative for smaller projects, and it doesn’t cost anything.

Advertise online

Advertisements can be an effective tool for project promotion, but you need someone who would spend approximately 4 hours a day to set it up and optimize it. As for Petcube it was more advantageous to invest time in other forms of communication rather than in advertisements.

Answer your audience's questions

Your audience and the journalists you hire will definitely have some questions for you as the founder. Be ready to answer them as quickly as possible.

Make an email delivery

Do you still remember the email base we were creating? Now is just the right time to make use of it. A subscriber messaging 2-3 days before the end of a campaign can bring you a lot.This earned the Petcube team $15 000 right at the tail end of its fundraising campaign.

Success is at hand now! What's next?

Lots of people think that their work ends at the moment when the Kickstarter campaign has been set up and the PR work has been completed. You have to wait for a successful finish. But the fact is that it’s important to maintain the project after the campaign ends. Otherwise, you risk losing a significant part of your earnings down the road.

Create your own online shop

When the Kickstarter campaign ends you will probably want to keep selling your product. But you've got to have your own online shop to do this. Make sure to do so a few weeks before the end of the campaign. There may be some customers who want to get the product who didn't buy it for some reasons on Kickstarter.

Edit your Kickstarter page

When the Kickstarter campaign ends, you won't be able to edit the description of your page. Nevertheless, some people who failed to become your backer can get there. So you had better revise your bio and tell people how your project can be bought about 10 minutes before the end of your campaign.

The end of the campaign

The Kickstarter campaign has ended, you've got the planned amount and even more! You think that's it? In fact, the end of the campaign is only the beginning. Now you have to hold your promises. You have to finish the product, start making it and continue building your business. There’s a lot of work ahead, but that’s another story.
Story by