Currently there have been over 219,000 successful Kickstarter campaigns, but the key to success isn’t a particularly obvious one. We decided to take a look at some of the best campaigns to date and how they managed to win the hearts of backers.
Games on Kickstarter is one of the most popular categories, being second only behind Film & Video. Some say that Kickstarter has changed the world of table top games. Giving individual designers and small companies the chance to launch their product without having to pitch to existing publishers has opened a door. The most successful to date is the infamous Exploding Kittens.
It’s a quirky, Russian Roulette card game that involves, you guessed it, kittens. Players simply take it in turns to draw cards until someone gets the Exploding Kitten. The original target to raise was $10,000. Little did they know they would become an unlikely hit, catching the attention of over 219,000 backers and raising over $8,782,571.
Why was it successful?
Exploding Kittens mission was always to inspire people to connect, laugh and play fun games in the physical world. During the 30 day campaign, the developers created a strong sense of community with their backers. One of the beauties of Kickstarter is the ability to communicate and respond to the audience, and by doing so with gusto they managed to create a strong, active fan base. They still comment on the campaign to this day!
The backers named themselves ‘KittenCorps’, created a Latin motto (“Catulus, Crepitus, Communitas” which translates as “Kittens, Explosions, Community”), and even made a website. Because of the strong sense of community, the creators were able to send out test decks and surveys to the fans so they got to have a strong influence in the game’s development. Without Kickstarter, this wouldn’t have been easily possible.
Exploding Kittens have gone on to create more games and Kickstarter campaigns with just as much success. Bears vs Babies received $3,215,679 to smash the original $10,000 goal. They set realistic targets with their campaigns and because of their fan base from the original game, they have followers ready to try out anything new they put out there. Exploding Kittens is now available in major retail chains and is even being made into an animated TV series for Netflix!
Travel Jacket by Baubax
This product is the most funded apparel in the history of Kickstarter. An all in one travel jacket by Baubax, it’s lovingly referred to as the Swiss Army knife of jackets. Perhaps it’s combination of style and practicality was the draw for a lot of backers. Available in a selection of styles to suit different tastes, it features a built-in neck pillow, eye mask, gloves, pen plus a variety of different pockets in and out, all without looking clunky and heavy. Women’s jackets often don’t feature so many pockets, especially inside, when actually they’re a really handy feature! With an original target of $20,000, Baubax ended up raising $9,192,055.
Why was it successful?
Created by Hiral Sanghavi, along with his wife Shah, they set out to solve the dilemma of long-distance travelling. As he was often travelling himself, the idea stemmed from him always leaving behind his travel pillow. They used their own experiences to create a convenient product that solved the problem. Working with what you know is a great starting point.
As they managed to raise so much in just a couple of weeks, they ended up getting a lot of media attention and in turn extra marketing, all before the campaign had even finished. This involved interviews with popular blogs and newspapers, including The Guardian.
Following the success, Baubax have been able to develop into other types of clothing, but also improve on their original design. Backers loved the extra travel accessories but wanted to see more, so Baubax added pockets for Airpods, power banks and even a footrest! An open, honest relationship with your backers is a great way to gain trust and get repeat custom.
The Fidget Cube
You can’t go anywhere nowadays without seeing fidgets of some kind. But did you know the original was launched on Kickstarter? That’s right, the Fidget Cube – ‘a desk toy for anyone who likes to fidget’.
Originally based on the clicking of pens, the creators Antsy Labs had an original goal of $15,000. They ended up with 154,926 backers pledging $6,465,690 to help bring this project to life.
Why was it successful?
The Fidget Cube wasn’t a huge investment for backers. At just $19, you could get your hands on one cube, which really is all you need. But the main selling point was the reasoning behind creating the product. Fidgeting is often viewed negatively and seen as unprofessional. Antsy Labs really honed in on that, insisting that they wanted to change people’s views. It wasn’t just a toy, it was something that would remove the ‘shame’ from fidgeting and destigmatize it. It was particularly tempting for people with OCD, ADHD or anxiety, designed to help with concentration, no matter what your age. Choosing a topic that a huge number of people can relate to is a great way to capture attention and run a successful campaign.
The Veronica Mars Movie
A curve ball for sure, but Film & Video is currently the most popular category on Kickstarter. After its cancellation in 2007, fans of Veronica Mars were left hugely disappointed. But the writer, Rob Thomas, was on their side. He deliberately wrote an open-ended season finale – take that, network! This left an opportunity for a movie, but after pitching the idea to Warner Bros with no success, Kickstarter was the next option. Over 91,000 backers pledged $5,702,153 to see the movie made.
Why was it so successful?
Inevitably, Kristen Bell and the TV show’s huge existing fan base made the campaign such a success. From the point of its cancellation, Veronica Mars fans (who call themselves ‘Marshmallows’) were itching for a movie to be made. It took 7 years for the Kickstarter to happen, and Rob Thomas spent a year planning the campaign before it went live. It was never rushed. This integral time spent in the lead up to launch almost certainly helped bolster how it was received.
With an original goal of $2,000,000, Rob Thomas was planning to produce an ‘Agatha Christie’ style homebound film. The backers stepped up and exceeded expectations, which allowed Rob to take the film on location and create something the fans wanted. He respected them and listened to their wants.
They also added extra merchandise to their campaign as a reward for backers. This included stickers, t-shirts, a shooting script, posters, celebrity videos, tickets to the premiere, private screenings, even parts in the movie! There really was something for every price point – an absolute blast for the mega fans!
What happens after the campaign ends?
Of course there are hundreds more success stories on Kickstarter – this is only scratching the surface. But with a successful campaign can come a lot of pressure to deliver. Not everyone manages it.
ZNAPS created an incredibly successful campaign with their magnetic adapters that make charging your devices more convenient. They had over 70,000 backers who pledged $3,007,370.
Two years down the line however, they’d gone quiet and backers still hadn’t received their products. Now you can buy the exact same product in stores! Success isn’t just measured by the numbers once your campaign ends. It also includes your post-campaign work. Being open and honest with your backers and keeping them updated on your progress is hugely important to running a successful campaign on Kickstarter.