Since crowdfunding has proved to be a real game-changer in the startup world, hundreds and even thousands of young entrepreneurs are trying to reap its benefits. The world’s first digitalized backpack – PIX is not an exception. It launched on Kickstarter and Indiegogo and skyrocketed to raising a total of $325,000, multiple times more than the primary goal. We talked to Margaret Rimek, CEO at PIX, about challenges one may face when launching a crowdfunding campaign, and how to make sure your product actually gets backed.
PIX is an interactive backpack with an LED screen that allows you to customize your backpack depending on your preferences, mood, or both. PIX has its own iOS and Android apps which offer a variety of designs. Choose the one you like from the library or create your own, sent it to the backpack via Bluetooth, and voilà – there you have it – a trendy, practical pack not similar to anything that already exists in the world.
The idea to make a customizable backpack was born around two years ago. Basically, one day we were discussing with friends that people tend to share their interests online, through social media. We wanted to make it possible to do this in real life – that’s how we started PIX, a tool for expressing yourself.
Making PIX technically feasible, interactive, and visually appealing at the same time was not an easy task. We experimented a lot, and the product you see today is nothing like the first version. When we started thinking about mass production – crowdfunding seemed a reasonable option. We decided to start with Kickstarter because, first of all, it’s the biggest crowdfunding platform. Unlike Indiegogo, which mainly focuses on the European audience, Kickstarter is mostly about the US market. The launching process on both is very similar, but you can’t have two live campaigns, so we started the Indiegogo campaign right after Kickstarter, not simultaneously.
Getting ready for prelaunch
Only the preparation for Kickstarter campaign took us around 3 months. Being total newbies in crowdfunding, we decided to hire a marketing agency from the US which specializes in Kickstarter. They helped us with coming up with ideas of media materials, photo and video ideas, writing a copy for Kickstarter page, ads, etc. We spent about a month on the prelaunch and final edits. On Indiegogo, however, we didn’t do prelaunch. In my opinion, managing your page and pre-orders is more efficient on Indiegogo.
PR played an important role in our crowdfunding campaigns. The hardest thing was to set the first contact with the big media. When the first article comes out, the rest is like a snowball effect: media approach you first, ask to test a product, etc. As a result, we managed to get the attention of The Verge, Business Insider, Venture Beat, and many others. However, working with bloggers turned out to be much more effective in our case. PIX first review on Unbox Therapy went viral – right now it has more than 2, 8 million views on YouTube – the result we couldn’t have imagined.
Usually, projects get most of their fundings in the first few days of campaigns. So, my advice to anyone thinking about crowdfunding would be – spend more time getting ready for a prelaunch. The more people are ready to support your project before the actual crowdfunding has started – the better results you can count on. At PIX we spent days working on the database of people interested in our product and sent them a reminder right when the product launched on Kickstarter. As a result – we raised $35, 000 in the first 3 days of our campaign.
Tools that work for you
Keep in mind, that some sources might be more efficient in promoting your campaign than others. Scale the profitable ones, and close all other. There are so many websites that offer you a campaign boost and incredible results, but mostly they are a scam. Google Analytics and Kickstarter built-in analytic tools are the reliable sources that will help you with traction. One thing you definitely should not underestimate – communication with your backers and people interested in the product. Brace yourself for obvious questions and a portion of criticism, but make sure no matter or comment remains unanswered. Be polite, it’s OK when someone doesn’t believe in your product or success.
Looking back on our first crowdfunding campaigns, we believe they were successful. Of course, there are always new goals to achieve, but overall we are satisfied with our crowdfunding debut. The only thing we would do differently now that we have more experience – contact Youtube vloggers and influencers at the very beginning of our Kickstarter campaign. Also, it’s very important to make your prototype as close to the final product as possible. It will save lots of your time and funding after. If you’re sending a product to an influencer for a review, but it still has bugs, be aware that more people that you’d want might find about it – opinion leaders are very honest with their audience.
The common problem many startups face after finishing a crowdfunding campaign – they cannot deliver products by the estimated deadline. Nevertheless, we already got the first mass production samples and we are following our timeline. We expect to deliver backpacks to our backers on time. I believe that in PIX case it was the combination of our idea, design, and PR that helped our product win the attention and financial support from backers from around the world.
In 2018, PIX took part at IT Arena Startup Competition. The registration for the next edition of the biggest startup competition in Ukraine is already open, so if you want to join other revolutionary startups, get valuable connections, and receive funding, don't hesitate to apply by September, 1.