Kickstarter Crowd Funding: Five “Secrets” of Success

Kickstarter Bullet Journal ProjectFor a couple of months now, I’ve been a convert to a productivity and journalling system called the Bullet Journal developed by Ryder Carroll.

I was a ‘late adopter’ really, because I only discovered the Bullet Journal in July and I gathered it had been around for about a year by the time I stumbled across it.

My experience with this system is possibly another whole blog post. Suffice to say I’m finding it’s a wonderful approach for me, alongside some digital options I’m still using (e.g. for a large contact database) although I’ve now abandoned all other forms of ‘to do lists’. :)

However this post is not about the Bullet Journal itself. It’s about the great tips I’ve picked up for successfully crowd-funding an idea – specifically (in this instance) through Kickstarter.

Ryder Carroll’s Kickstarter project involves taking the Bullet Journal idea to its ‘next level’ – including an enhanced resource website and a special “Bullet Journal specific” notebook published in partnership with Leuchtturm1917, whose notebooks lend themselves very well to this. Here’s a brief chronology of the start of his project:

16 September, 1.45 am (Australian Eastern Standard Time – AEST)

  • Announcement received (through Google+)  from Ryder about launch of project
  • Goal $10,000
  • Amount pledged $0

Clock Faces16 September, 1:56 am (AEST)

  • I make a pledge
  • 3 backers, including me
  • Amount pledged $90

16 September, 9.58 am (AEST)

  • 361 backers
  • Amount pledged $11,357

That’s more than $11,000 raised in only 8 hours!!

And it looks like those numbers will continue to climb exponentially.  As I write this post on the evening of 17 September, figures now stand at 884 backers and $28,123 pledged with 28 days still to go.  All that in less than 48 hours.

So what are the “secrets”?

Well, like most things, when you take a close look there really aren’t any ‘secrets’ at all. Just good, practical, human common sense. :)

Here’s what I’ve learned.**

1) Offer freely to the world something genuinely useful or of value

Gold in HandThis is the foundation and happens well before any Kickstarter project – perhaps even before such a project is even a twinkle in your eye. And your offer should be made without calculation or expectations. Share something – an idea, a resource, an approach, a product – with generosity of spirit and an open heart. People will see right through you if your intent is purely commercial. Oh, they may like what you have to offer – may eventually purchase from you when you’ve got it ready to sell. But Kickstarter is not the platform for you. Go look for a venture capitalist or another funding source.

2) Build a strong community around your idea

Hands TogetherStay involved with all those who are using what you’ve shared or offered to the world (the first step above).  Interact with them, support them, continue to offer your time and your passion to them and to your idea. Learn what they like and don’t like about it. Continue to express your appreciation for their engagement with you and their interest in what you have to offer.  Use whatever virtual and face-to-face opportunities that are available and will work for you. Be open to other avenues that may appear – often thanks to one or some of your most enthusiastic supporters. :) And make sure you enter into those spaces to engage with people there as well!

3) Be patient

Finger with StringBefore you venture into Kickstarter, allow plenty of time for your ‘fan base’ to build – still without expecting or asking anything in return or pushing a commercial venture. However eager you are to push ahead, think of your idea like a delicate seedling that needs care, nourishment, attention and time before you can transplant it.  For example, the Bullet Journal Kickstarter project was at least a year in germination before it was launched.

4) Build your project around an ongoing freely available resource for the world.

Hands offering RosesIn other words, to appeal to the greatest number of potential backers your project should not be just about something that you will sell or that you plan to sell.  Make sure it includes something of real value that you will be offering freely to the world as part of your project. The proposed website enhancement for the Bullet Journal project is a case in point. It’ll cost money to build, so needs funding – but the result will be freely available to the public and continue to support Bullet Journal users in the future. We may assume there could be some monetary gain for Ryder Carroll in his partnership with Leuchtturm and their specifically designed Bullet Journal notebook. And possibly also from other products and services he’ll develop commercially. But a publicly available, free and enhanced resource is a fundamental component of what he is planning to achieve.

5) Read all Kickstarter guidelines and policies and plan your project carefully

kickstarterI’d have put this one as number one in my list, except I figured it should probably go without saying. But in exploring some of the very helpful resources on the Kickstarter site, it’s clear that not everyone takes this important step before submitting a project proposal. :)  So in addition to the above tips, it’s crucial to make sure your particular project does fit within Kickstarter guidelines – specifically for creative projects in the worlds of Art, Comics, Crafts, Dance, Design, Fashion, Film & Video, Food, Games, Journalism, Music, Photography, Publishing, Technology, and Theater.  It’s probably best to start here with the rules.

If you’re considering using a crowd funding approach for an idea of your own, take a leaf out of Ryder Carrolls’ book … no pun intended :) … and stick with the process above.

From what I’ve observed, you’ll be far more likely to fund your project – perhaps reaching dizzy heights of success.

And may the force be with you! :)


** A Disclaimer: Please note this blog post and the tips it contains are based on my own understanding of the process Ryder Carroll has gone through for his Kickstarter project. I have not discussed any of this with him and certainly do not claim to be any kind of mind reader! :) The points I’m making are based purely and simply on my own observations of the process.

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Business Promotion:
Look at Me, Look at Me!

megaphonesThis morning I had a brain explosion.

Oh, not literally of course. But it was a moment of total overload! I had to get out; in fact I did go outside to gulp lungfuls of clear, fresh air.

I was catching up with emails, email newsletters and LinkedIn groups and discussions when I hit this metaphorical brick wall that left me gasping.

Information overload? You may well ask! And I’m sure many (if not all) of us have experienced that from time to time. But, no, that wasn’t it.

What got to me was an overwhelming sense of being talked at and … well … the noise that was assailing me. Of so many people all trying at once to strut, sell, pontificate and promote.

Here’s how it goes …

“I know your pain … I understand your problem … and you need worry no more! I have the solution … I have the 10 secrets you need – that nobody has ever shared with you before … I have the product, the service, the program that will change your life! I know all the answers … and have a PhD to prove it. And I’ve written a superbly successful book on the subject as well.”

All this before you even know my name? I don’t think so …

Amid all this me-me-ME and sell-sell-SELL this morning … well, my brain just gave up. It cried STOP! ENOUGH! And I headed outside to fresh air, a little silence and some birdsong.

What is it with all this thinly-disguised self-promotion and puffery masquerading as discussion or conversation? Or the “über-cleverness” of scoring points to show I know more about this topic than you do?

Can’t we please just relax together and have a chat? Or yes … ok … healthy and vigorous debate is great too. But let’s add listening into the mix. And please, could we perhaps get to know each other a little?

Let’s experience each other’s humanity; embrace genuine curiosity and respect for different world views. Let’s share a laugh at times too. Let’s experience those delicious moments of synergy and connection that are to be found in real conversations.

Talk to me – tell me your story. Listen to mine.

Let’s keep it simple and, above all, keep it real.

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Advice to Live By

RumiWe came across these Rumi quotations again recently and felt his words were worth sharing here on our blog.

Though written way back in the 13th century, they’re still relevant today.

Firstly, imagine a world in which every child, every human being, was assured of these things …

You were born with potential
You were born with goodness and trust
You were born with ideals and dreams
You were born with greatness
You were born with wings
You are not meant for crawling, so don’t.
You have wings
Learn to use them, and fly.

And here are some qualities to which we all could aspire. They’re great advice to live by if we want to experience a full and appreciative life. :)

Be like the water at generosity and support
Be like the sun at compassion and mercy
Be like the night at covering the faults of others
Be like a corpse at anger and violence
Be like the earth at modesty and unpretentiousness
Be like a sea at tolerance
Be as you are in truth, or be in truth as you present yourself.
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Embracing the Mystery:
Reflecting on Appreciative Inquiry

Hands holding globeThere are times in my life when I’ve seen a film or documentary, or read a book or blog post, that has resonated so deeply for me it has left me breathless and with tears in my eyes.

Reading Dr Samuel Mahaffy’s post Embrace the Mystery was one of those times. A time when someone else put into words exactly how I feel about Appreciative Inquiry.

As an AI practitioner himself, Dr. Mahaffy says, for example:

The chatter I hear in AI circles is more about methodology and less about the mystery. I wonder if we have lost some wonderment about the mystery in our collective search for ever-perfected techniques … I want to return to the mystery of Appreciative Inquiry. It called to my heart and not to my head … The mystery is the place of unknowing.

For me also, working with AI has always been about the mystery. The wonder of what it means to be human and alive in this amazing and diverse world of ours. To explore, with those around us, what it means to be part of this group, this family, this organisation, or this community. To embrace and somehow ‘hold the space’ that honours the delicious diversity and powerful paradoxes of human ideas, personalities, perspectives … and of our very existence.

It’s about articulating our dreams and highest hopes, about building bridges between us and understanding how we are all connected. It’s also about recognising that what unites us is far more powerful than what divides us … if we can only be open to seeing it.

It’s about finding a way to sit comfortably with uncertainty – with ‘unknowing’. And, even more powerfully, it’s beginning to understand that through embracing uncertainty we can create new and exciting possibilities for living, caring and working together towards a better world.

Appreciative Inquiry is about engaging genuinely and deeply with our fellow human beings – in every context. It’s about ‘generative’ conversations that take us beyond the known into the unknown, then further into a new way of knowing.

To do this I need to get to know you as deeply and respectfully as I can. I need to be genuinely curious about you, your hopes, your dreams .. and yes, your fears and your pain.

I know that last sentence may not sit comfortably with some AI folk. I can hear them say “No, surely that’s not AI – you’re sliding right back into a deficit conversation!” And I certainly agree it’s important not to dwell in the negatives – or stay in spaces where anxiety, fear, pain and anger prevail.

But for me, as an AI practitioner, it’s important to value and appreciate the whole of human experience. The dark side as well as the light, the painful and sad times as well as the joyful and aspirational ones. I need to see you, this organisation, this community, or this world as fully as possible; in as multi-faceted a way as I can. I need to honour you in all your wholeness and humanity. Only then can I play a part in helping you … helping us … transcend the ‘dark stuff’ on our journey to becoming the best we can be.

One of my favourite quotes is from the song Anthem, by Leonard Cohen:

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
… That’s how the light gets in.

And, as another AI colleague and friend, Gervase Bushe once said, as AI practitioners we need to have:

a poetic ear, an eye for beauty, a keen sense of what others find inspiring, and an open heart to feel the unconscious yearning in the group

As an AI practitioner myself, these are the skills to which I’ve always aspired.

So all this is why reading Dr. Mahaffy’s post moved me to tears and took my breath away. It is because he speaks for me.

Appreciative Inquiry is not a ‘technique’. Nor is it a ‘tool’ that we use. It is an appreciative way of seeing and being in the world. It is about curiosity and compassion. It is about openness, honesty and generosity of spirit. It is all about the relationships we build with others … and it is truly about embracing the mystery.

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Workshops: Busy Bees

single-bee02-smWell, we’ve been busy bees, preparing for our workshops in Brisbane next week. I’m running an Aged Care Chair Chi Training Level One workshop and Sue is running A Taste of Appreciative Inquiry.

We’re also busy promoting our upcoming Adelaide workshops for the end of August. And on top of all that my bee legs are going to get a workout, as I’ll be promoting the possibility of running the Chair Chi Training Level One workshop(s) in Europe. I’ll be in Europe from 22 September to 5th October, but if I find work there I’ll extend my stay by an extra week. Fingers crossed.

In our business, as in most businesses, finding work is the hardest part. But for us the delivery is a real buzz!

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The Sound of Comfort

Hands playing harpMusic is a powerful thing. As we said in a previous blog post, Music and Memory, it can have the power to ‘bring to life’ elderly folk with dementia.

Or, as I also wrote some time before that, music transports us through time, connects us with other people, helps to heal wounds, makes us laugh, makes us cry and feeds the soul.

More recently we’ve discovered another powerful way in which music is used to make a significant difference – this time at the end of life for those in palliative care. It’s something called music thanatology, defined by Music-Thanatology Association International as:

a professional field within the broader sub-speciality of palliative care. It is a musical/clinical modality that unites music and medicine in end of life care. The music-thanatologist utilizes harp and voice at the bedside to lovingly serve the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the dying and their loved ones with prescriptive music.

Training programs for music thanatologists are currently only offered in the United States, although graduates of these programs work in many different parts of the world, including England, Japan, Israel, Scotland and the Netherlands.

To date, however, there is only one certified music thanatologists in Australia! His name is Peter Roberts and you can read more about him in The Sound of Comfort, an article published in Australian Ageing Agenda.

It’s an inspiring read! And The Harp and The Ferryman, a book Peter co-authored with Helen Cox, is definitely on my ‘books to read’ list, although time to do so has so far eluded me.

Peter is based in Geelong at the Institute of Music in Medicine, of which he is the founding director. So if you would like to learn more, you can contact the Institute – details are on their website.

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World Appreciative Inquiry Conference Adventures

Well, we’ve just been informed that the next World Appreciative Inquiry international conference is now official and will be held in South Africa, July 2015.Flying bird

Both Sue and I plan to attend.

The announcement has brought back memories of the wonderful times we had at previous AI conferences – 2009 in Kathmandu, Nepal and 2012 in Ghent, Belgium. Here are the Youtube clips we put together after we attended each of these conferences. Great memories!

Kathmandu – Nepal – 2009

Images Of Kathmandu 5.52 mins

A Chitwan Adventure – Nepal 5.30 mins

World Appreciative Inquiry Conference WAIC 2009 25.09 mins

Ghent – Belgium – 2012

Images of Ghent April 2012 10.47 mins

World Appreciative Inquiry Conference WAIC 2012 21.20 mins

We’re really looking forward to our next conference and catching up with all our mates. I think I’ll start packing now!

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