On April 19, we launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for Cinemood, a storytelling mini portable projector that helps to enhance early childhood development. We raised a whopping $120k in just two months. Because this kind of crowdfunding success does not happen overnight, we wanted to share a few of the steps we took to raise over twice our goal and what we learned along the way.
Why did we choose crowdfunding?
When we released the first version of CINEMOOD, we didn’t even think about crowdfunding: the company was evolving, the audience was growing, and sales were on the rise. During the summer of 2015, after receiving a huge amount of positive feedback, we decided to make a new version of the portable projector, incorporating new stylish product designs as well as new technical specifications and features.
In August 2015 our startup was selected for a joint acceleration program of Skolkovo Foundation and Singapore hardware accelerator HaxAsia. At the program, we were advised that, in order to turn our sights to the international market, we should use crowdfunding. A year later, we started acceleration in Denmark and decided to start collecting pre-orders for the production of our cine-cubes. A crowdfunding platform looked like a simple tool for the promotion of our enterprise, fundraising and taking pre-orders.
Indiegogo stands out in a number of ways – it’s a friendlier place, they provide needed support and have a flexible funding option. With flexible funding, you can collect funds raised, even if you didn’t reach the intended goal. This make’s it less scary to run a crowdfunding campaign for the first time.
Prepping for launch
We started preparing for our campaign three weeks before launch. We focused on strategies that would bring an international audience to our page and convince them that our project was worth backing. This was our first experience promoting internationally, so we wanted to be prepared and get the tips from the best in this business.
“We turned to Indiegogo for consultation to decide on the strategy and customer engagement model in advance. We created a database with 15,000 emails and drummed up excitement for our communities on social networks. In other words, we had enough access up our sleeves to quite confidently press the Launch button,” CINEMOOD marketing director Daria Mingalieva.
The first day of our campaign on Indiegogo
The first three days of the campaign were the most important ones and we kept modifying our strategy. Our expectations were to collect 40% of our goal ($75,000) in three days. At first, things didn’t work the way we expected. While Facebook ads was successfully converting into emails they weren’t driving sales. As a result, only 2% of email database actually got us some buyers. But despite this low percentage we hit 50% of the funding goal on the very first day of the campaign.
In the first hours, CINEMOOD project hit the top list of crowdfunding campaigns on the Indiegogo homepage.
Week two: reaching new milestones
In a couple of weeks we were mentioned in different online media. The greatest milestone of the second week was achieving 100% of our goal. We became the first Russian project that crossed this threshold at Indiegogo. As a reward, we were invited to participate in one of the world’s largest technical conferences, TechCrunch NY.
“At first we had a strong sense of déjà vu: in Russia we already had experience with pre-orders for the first product a year ago. We had done everything through our own website and it worked quite nicely. We thought that the American audience would be very different from the Russian one, we racked our brains figuring out the new models of presentation; we brainstormed night after night to impress Americans and even changed the concept of product presentation.
But when all of our great ideas were put into practice, it turned out that the reaction of the locals was the same as that of the Russians: requests for discounts, funny comments, unexpected questions. We have much more in common in mentality than we think,” CINEMOOD marketing director Daria Mingalieva.
The third week: lessons in PR
After reaching 100%, we moved to a stretch goal of 150% with the following plan: if we achieve this goal, we’ll add a free 15×25 cm rear projection screen to every order.
During the third week, we participated in several exhibitions and conferences. Participating in exhibitions, conferences and public events was more effective than hasty attempts to communicate directly with journalists. We learned that PR activities should be planned 2-3 months before the start of the campaign. We also learned that an emerging startup, it’s penetration into new markets and the launch of a crowdfunding campaign are, alone, not newsworthy enough for the press.
Weeks four and five: networking and events
Late May was a hot time for events. We presented the second version of the portable projector at the Skolkovo Sailing Trophy 2016. We attended the Silicon Valley Open Doors (SVOD), an IT conference for investors, that takes place in Silicon Valley and brings together many startups from all over the world. At SVOD, we made it into the top three list of most outstanding projects.
The end of our campaign
As we finished our crowdfunding project, we started getting multiple questions from enthusiasts about how we managed to implement such a successful crowdfunding campaign. We love sharing what we’ve learned and our door in the Moscow coworking office #tceh is always open: we’d love to share our knowledge and talk about how we achieved this success.
As a result of the campaign on Indiegogo, we collected 170% of the original funding goal, made CINEMOOD prototypes and produced the first smart covers Smart Cover™ featuring popular cartoon characters. Soon, we’ll start the first retail sales in Russia and abroad. Thanks to our campaign and the hardwork of our team, we have gained reliable partners, loyal users, an excellent product and a purpose – to create a happy childhood.
Feeling Inspired? Check out the Essential Guide to Crowdfunding.
*For the full original post, please visit the Cinemood blog.