Can a tech startup be successful on Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites? Experts Jesse Pliner and Lloyd Gladstone of Prong share details about their campaign for PocketPlug and their thoughts on what connects with investors and consumers.
How have crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter changed the scheme of technology?
The popularity of crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter has become a complete game changer for entrepreneurism and how startups can bring their new products – especially technology based ones – to market. Having a standardized, legitimate platform for launching a project and providing a secure channel to accept monetary funds is an unbelievable and vital tool for anyone looking to launch a business. From our own personal experience, crowdfunding is revolutionizing the “standard” business model and changing the way both entrepreneurs and consumers view technology.
Is it faster and easier to get new innovations on the market because of crowdfunding sites?
From our experience, crowdfunding is certainly the fastest way to bring a product to market because these sites allow you to start monetizing an innovation before even officially launching it. It also allows you to start building a community around a product from the get-go, which helps drive consumer buzz when your product officially launches.
Some companies might also use crowdfunding as a way to fund their projects and ideas when they don’t have the immense resources necessary to bring a new innovation to market.
What are the drawbacks of launching something on crowdfunding sites as opposed to traditional methods – is there a sense of devaluation with the products?
In this digital age, we don’t think launching something on a crowdfunding site necessarily devalues a product. For example, there have been many large companies that failed to successfully launch a smartwatch product, yet it is Pebble – a relatively unknown startup that launched its first product on Kickstarter – that is now the leader within this technology space.
One drawback of utilizing crowdfunding sites is the cost. Another is that as a business, you are optimizing search results and directing traffic to the crowdfunding page itself, not your own website. We learned along the way that it takes a vast amount of time and care to respond to each and every email, comment, and question from both Kickstarter backers and prospective backers. We admit it was challenging at first to find the right rhythm to connect and interact with our backers on a one-on-one level, but it’s what ultimately allowed us to speak directly to our consumer. Through Kickstarter, we were able to build a more personal connection with our users, rather than if a person merely bought a PocketPlug in a store or through a traditional e-commerce site. The backers naturally feel more vested and connected to Prong both then and now, as they have helped turn our Kickstarter project into a reality.
Not every product launched is successfully funded or lives up to its hyperbole. How would you advise others in launching products?
The importance of having an interesting, visually compelling video cannot be emphasized enough. It is also important to offer enticing rewards and to execute a well-planned PR campaign that supports your over-arching launch strategy. The reality is, people will not likely come across your crowdfunding project page organically. It is imperative that you promote your project across many channels including all social media platforms, mainstream media, and any publications that relate to the innovation or the problem that it solves.
What were the interesting facets that funders were drawn to and tell us what is in the future for your company?
Funders love innovative solutions that make their lives a little easier and more convenient. Everyone can relate to the frustration of having your smartphone run out of battery life at the most inopportune moments and not having a charging cord or external battery pack handy to charge it. The PocketPlug – the first smartphone case with a built-in wall charger- is truly a unique approach to solving this problem that has everyone asking themselves, “Now why didn’t I think of that…”
One of the greatest benefits of using Kickstarter is the open dialogue between us as a company, and our backers. The feedback we received from them was truly invaluable. We are currently developing our next line of products, and our backers’ feedback informed every aspect of the design and development process for this new product line.