Exploding Kittens, one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns ever, is about to end in a blizzard of new record breaking numbers. What lessons can a card game provide anyone who is thinking about crowd-funding a film project? Actually, as Guest Author Axel Mertes details, quite a few…
The phenomenon Exploding Kittens began on January 20th, 2015, when Elan Lee started the campaign at Kickstarter. He was former chief design officer for Xbox Entertainment Studios, who tells stories for a living — as he wrote in his short bio. Together with his friend Shane Small, former principal art director at Xbox Entertainment Studios, he began developing a simple refreshing card game, which they summarise as being Russian roulette with cards. A few weeks after they began designing the game, a certain Matthew Inman joined the team. He took care of most of the visual design of the card set, following the style of his famous website cartoons found at The Oatmeal.
His cartoons are very popular and he has a huge fan base behind him. Leading us to…
Lesson #1: Have one at hand with a great fan base or audience of followers, if you ever aim for crowdfunding. Simply have a huge crowd.
When the campaign was started, they asked to get $10,000 in funding from the Kickstarter backers. Well, its a simple card game, so nothing complicated in manufacturing, quite trivial. They have released a notice to The Oatmeal followers and in no more than 8 minutes they had the $10,000 they needed.
It took an hour and the campaign broke through the $100,000 barrier, ten times as much as for what they asked for. And that was just the beginning. Within 24 hours they had raised $1,000,000 and now, writing in the last days of the campaign, no less than $6,100,000 have been collected from more than 154,000 backers and it is still growing.
Why is that interesting for RedShark News readers?
It's important, because Kickstarter played an important role in funding many film projects and film related product inventions. Its the number one incubator for crowd funding to bring new products or projects to market and make them real. And you don't have to pitch your local bank accountant, with all this horrible paperwork and often unsuccessful discussions, because they don't get your vision nor understand your market or ideas. You pitch among a community that has pretty similar interests in making and watching films, games, computer nerd stuff and even 3D printing, one of the very popular topics at Kickstarter.
While this campaign was intended to be a simple one — manufacture and ship a ready-designed card game – the makers decided to provide so called stretch goals, with such funny things like shooting selfies with goats and cats etc., all of which drive the community to interact with the campaign. When a goal or several goals are reached, something is given back to the backing community, typically a free add-on. The goals weren't out of reach, so that there is news every few days at least to proclaim, via Kickstarter, Facebook, Twitter etc..
Lesson #2: Stretch goals lead to others interacting with your campaign. Each time one interacts via the social platform channels, thirds will notice and the crowd is growing by itself.
What makes Exploding Kittens so amazing is the momentum. Now, as it has already grown bigger than probably anyone has ever expected, the world news take notice and comment about it via web, print, tv and radio. The amount collected at the end of the campaign is expected to be above $7,500,000 according to Kicktraq - a website that protocols and predicts Kickstarter campaign success. That is a mere 750 times more than what they asked for.
Lesson #3: Once the ball is rolling, it can get fully out of (your) control, as third parties start growing the crowd for you. Pretty much like a film project can be hop or top. All you can do now is stay tuned for interviews and good marketing.
Lesson #4: Sometimes the simple stuff is more appealing than reaching for the stars. So if you have a clever product idea, its probably better to start with something smaller, more useable for average followers than the Swiss army knife that does everything but for a premium price level, not attracting the same amount of people.
That reflects pretty much the marketing strategy behind a company such as Blackmagic Design, who always try to make a product fitting the needs of 80% of the users but at a reasonable price level, which brings us back to our Red Shark community topics.
Summary: Before you start something, think about your audience. With no one listening you won't be successful.