The Pepple ePaper Watch is the highest earning project on Kickstarter to date. Occasionally it's even refered to it as just “the kickstarter watch”. They had a goal of $100,000 and went to to fund the project with contributions of $10,266,845. That is a stunning 10,266% of their funding goal.
So if you are looking at how to run a campaign.. then this project is one you want to use as a kickstart example.
So, if you're looking to go out and get great results funding your next Kickstarter project, maybe you're not going to try and launch an ePaper watch that connects to smart phones... but there are a handful of principles that helped the Pebble ePaper watch shoot to stardom on Kickstarter.com.
Fortunately, they're all things you can do in your campaign today:
1. Get Bloggers and Media Onboard
Each of us only knows so many people. It's critical to any project to get people talking about your project so you reach more people.
When you look at their campaign page, you'll see that it starts off with no less than 8 quotes from people and organizations endorsing it ranging from well known blogs to even the original cyberpunk grandfather of “cyberspace” William Gibson.
They follow up with a press pack with high resolution photo's so there is no question in any blogger or media companies minds about whether they can use the photos, making it easy for them to create high quality content for their readers... and promote Pebble's Kickstarter project.
2. Ride Pre-existing Trends
It's far easier to ride a wave than to create one, and raising money for something related to what people have just started doing is always much more likely to succeed.
Something related to the recent massive uptake of every brand of popular smartphones? Check. Something tied in to the early trend of wearable computing? Check. Taps into the trend of being extendable with apps after purchase? Check. Internet connectivity? Minimalist design? Location aware? Check, check and check.
You don't need to create the demand for your product... just offer a solution, and a compelling case that you can pull it off. The Pebble Watch did exactly that.
3. Frequent Communication
Your communication isn't an important part of your campaign. Your communication is your campaign. Period. Seeing updates makes people relate to you as a person, makes it believable that the project will get completed, gives people something to share with others and just outright reminds them that you exist.
You'll hardly find a successfully funded project on Kickstarter that doesn't have a whole stack of updates. If you watched their project when it was live (or almost any successful project, really) you can see large spikes in funding after every major update.
Protip: Remember, when you're in the middle of a campaign answering questions and preparing rewards, you may not have time to come up with as many updates as you'd like. It's always worth thinking about some of the more predictable ones (halfway funded etc) before you start.
4. An Engaging Video
A video engages backers much more directly than text and images alone. We know from Kickerstarter.com directly that projects including a video get successfully funded 50% of the time, while those without are only 30% likely to fund their project.
Think about that. That means that just by including a video, not even the best video ever, you increase your chances of getting funded by over 65%. Not only that, but data from Kickstarter.com also shows that proejcts with a video raise more money, too.
The surprising thing is that the videos that have helped raise the most funds, are sometimes very basic. We go into this quite a bit more in detail in the Kickstarter Success System, suffice to say credibility, believability and a personal connection count for more than hollywood production values.
5. “Get One” as a Reward
This is pretty obvious to most people already, but if you're kickstarting a product, having the product included in one of the reward levels is crucial. It's one of the main reasons for most backers, giving their money to most projects.
6. Demonstrate Both Kinds of Credibilty
People love to back winners. Despite Kickstarter's system of only charging backers when a project is successfully funded, most people won't fund a project unless they think that it's likely to succeed in the first place.
When watching your video and reading your project description or updates, it's important to answer both that you can do it and that you will do it. That is do you and the people on your team have the skills to pull the project off and are you trust worthy enough to believe when you say you can.
The Pebble folks showed clearly that they could do this, by the fact they had already made smart watches in the past. They also showed that it was clear they would do it, by showing in the video an already-working prototype.
Many people get paranoid when looking at other campaign videos. Often they're afraid because they see the founder of the other project has qualifications or experience they don't. The thing to remember is that the things that make you ideal for your project are usually different to someone else's.
We all have experience relevant to just about any project. Formal qualifications, job experience, life experience, access to the counsel or skill of others, raw determination and enthusiasm, an outgoing personality (or even introverted, if your audience empathizes with that) are just a few of many, many things that can help show your audience that there's a good chance you can pull this off.
7. Respond to the Community Ideas and Wants
The original Pebble wasn't water resistant. This is important to people using it when they go jogging or bike riding (both of which were shown in their original campaign video). People asked for it, and despite the fact that they were dealing with physical production, which can be difficult to change, the Pebble folks worked to fix it.
Now Pebble isn't just water resistant, they've demonstrated to the community that they're serious about making something they're going to love.
The powerful combination of all of these factors combined, added up to make the launch of the Pebble ePaper watch the most successful Kickstarter launch ever. These are some of the most compelling reasons why Pebble was able to succeed like no others, even though just having a couple of these has made many other projects smaller, but still impressive money.
Of course there are always things other than the obvious that make any success. Got any other ideas on how they shot to Kickstarter super stardom? We'd love to hear them in the comments!