October 24, 2012

How to Kickstarter

Tips from Louisville entrepreneurs on becoming a crowdfunding success story

A handbag that charges your cell phone, a more masculine mayo called Mannaise, a pillow that you wear on your head during desk naps, a just-for-moms hackerspace: These are a small sampling of projects currently seeking backers on the crowdfunding website Kickstarter. Since being named one of Time magazine’s “Best Inventions of 2010,” the New York City-based company has helped more than 31,000 campaigns across the country raise $385 million. These numbers will likely spike on Halloween, when Kickstarter begins offering its services to artists and inventors in the United Kingdom.

Closer to home, more than 50 successful campaigns have taken place in Louisville since the site’s launch. CycLOUvia is a recent one, with 91 micro-investors raising enough cash to close Bardstown Road to vehicle traffic one Sunday afternoon this month. Another, “Pleased to Meet Me,” is a feature-length film from Louisville native Archie Borders. Based on a “This American Life” radio story, the film cleared $44,000 in donations with 171 people chipping in.

But not all Kickstarter projects end in a green light. For all those endeavors that have hit their goals, there are about 40,000 who haven’t. The company’s all-or-nothing policy means that none of the pledges made during failed campaigns are collected on. And for as heralded as Kickstarter has been, not all of its news has been good. Take, for instance, the growing cases of vaporware — that is, a successfully funded concept that never gets made and never officially cancels.

Currently, three well-publicized Kickstarters have raised seven-figures in donations and have yet to deliver on the products promised to their backers. One is the Pebble Smartwatch, which raised more than $10 million in May, but has since lost track of time. Kickstarter makes no guarantees on the promises of creators, but is currently implementing policies meant to prevent vaporware and the negative press it kicks up.

All that aside, Kickstarter has leveled the playing field, as well as made the game a bit more fun for upstarts. But this is indeed still business we’re talking about. To promote higher success rates, Kickstarter does reject weaker applicants and sometimes suggests fixes before accepting a project. So getting your ’zine published or animated-short budgeted may take more than just a couple of mouse clicks and a half-baked plan.

Four Louisville companies we spoke with confirmed as much. And with the crowdfunding waters about to become more congested with competition from overseas, these local businesses were kind enough to suggest some pointers for aspiring Kickstarters.


“People want to support people, not just products.” —Tyler Deeb, Pedale Designs

It sounds like a mathematical impossibility, but at the time of this writing, Tyler Deeb’s Kickstarter is 1,403 percent funded. With still a week before the campaign closes on Nov. 1, the 29-year-old graphic designer is playing with house money. Pre-orders for Pedale Designs’ original playing cards are already nearing 2,500. The cleanly decorated deck features an updated Arts and Crafts aesthetic, with crisp lines evocative of Charles Stickley and Frank Lloyd Wright.

From his Germantown studio in a one-time neighborhood bar, Deeb estimates he has spent at least 200 hours on the designs alone, pausing occasionally for the errant old-timer who has wandered in looking for a drink. Since completing the deck, Deeb says he has turned Kickstarter into a full time job.

The former gig-poster designer advises that when making a crowdfunding video, try to put as much of your personality into it as possible, which is almost as important as getting your idea across. Try to be the guy you want to have a beer with, he says. Asked if this is simply a type of salesmanship, Deeb suggests it’s more than that. Kickstarter is a place where the mystique between maker and buyer can be swept away.

“I respond back to emails in an hour or two,” Deeb says. “I’m eating it up, man. I love letting people know that I’m just a normal dude. There can be a disconnect between people who are creating stuff for us. A lot people want you to feel that, but I’m like, fuck that. I’m just one of you guys, and it’s not a shtick. I want to pull back the curtain.”

Giving accessibility to 2,500 backers can certainly leave one open to nitpicking, especially from collectors and “cardists,” who Deeb says can be very particular. They might ask “Why did you make the King of Diamonds the Suicide King?” or “Why is the deck all black?” Deeb has even caught guff from the magicians’ community for not making the card backs two-way, which he jokes was like getting a letter of complaint from Gob and the Magicians’ Alliance from “Arrested Development.”

But the designer has taken these queries in stride. In addition to fostering a strong online identity and personalized relationships with backers, Deeb also didn’t confine his campaign to just Kickstarter. Spreading the word via social media is good, but looking beyond those obvious plays is even better. It’s worth noting that one-third of the deck’s sales can be linked to a write-up on the men’s retail blog Uncrate.com.

“There’s so many ways that this can explode if it’s hit right,” Deeb says. “When you approach this, make sure to give credit to who you are, so people can know who they’re supporting. Be someone that they want to support, and offer a product they can get behind.”


“Don’t make it look like a charity or a handout. Let them get something for their investment.” —Scott Scarboro, Good Folk Fest

Scott Scarboro wasn’t sure he’d be able to revive it. The art and music festival he’d built while at the Mellwood Arts Center remained dormant for three years after steep budget cuts were implemented there. Throughout that time, Good Folk Fest continued to lack funds, a venue and, for all its steward knew, the public’s interest. But a piece in this magazine about a vegan food truck that used Kickstarter brought on an epiphany. Scarboro held onto this new crowdfunding idea, believing it could one day be an important piece in putting Good Folk back together again.

Some time later, during the gut-wrenching, closing days of Scarboro’s first Kickstarter campaign, 106 investors managed to give Good Folk the push it needed. This has led to the three-day music and arts festival finding a home at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage. The one-time trolley barn is a perfect fit for the event, which blends old folk traditions with new ones.

Billed as “untamed, yet civilized,” Scarboro describes the collection of 80 artists and 24 musical acts this way: “It’s not just carved ducks, or whatever. It’s folk art, but with a tweak.”

Hints of that tweak can be gleaned from Scarboro’s interest in new art trends like yarn-bombing, a form of street art that covers public spaces in colorful wool, thereby blurring the lines between hand crafts, folk art and graffiti. To the curator, this is akin to hanging a quilt on the side of a barn and is representative of a more open interpretation of folk, one inclusive of urban, 21st century forms.

Asked about his Kickstarter experience, Scarboro agrees with many others, saying this can be a more liberating arrangement for makers of things who might otherwise rely on a bank loan, or a publisher, or a single patron to set a project afloat.

“You don’t have to change the color of the canvas to match the sofa,” Scarboro says. “You still have to sell it, but the funding you raise, it’s clear to your backer what you’re doing.”

He added that Kickstarter is also a great way to gauge interest, particularly for a project that has been collecting dust for so long.

“Once you open that door and get the ball rolling, it’s really frightening at first,” Scarboro says. “You can raise $200 in the first week, and then it just sits there. You wonder, how can I kick this back up without being a pest?”

The festival organizer — who is also a talented found-objects artist and maker of sound collages — gained encouragement when past fans of Good Folk began to pop up with donations, some of whom he’d not met before. Scarboro’s jitters were further assuaged by consulting friends who had used the site, as well as by heeding Kickstarter’s own advice — like finding someone else’s project to contribute to in order to get an idea of what works.

Scarboro was willing to take Kickstarter’s suggestions, in large part because the company does not collect its 5 percent fee unless a campaign pays out. (Amazon.com also skims 3-5 percent in payment processing fees off the top.) For this reason, Kickstarter wants you to succeed.

Good Folk Fest runs Nov. 2-4.


“I didn’t promise anything I couldn’t follow through on. I didn’t promise a one-year subscription. I promised the first issue, because I didn’t know what was going to happen after that.” —Maggie Huber, This Is Louisville

Like Scott Scarboro, Maggie Huber learned of Kickstarter when reading about Morels Vegan Food Truck. But her first true taste of crowdfunding occurred at Soup deVille, an analog group fundraiser sponsored by the Louisville Visual Arts Association.

Soup deVille entrants pay $10 for all the soup they can eat and, more importantly, the chance to pitch their projects. The best idea takes home the entire pot (of money, not soup), allowing the recipient to begin working on his or her concept.

Huber told the room about a photography magazine she’d been devising during slow periods as a freelancer at The Courier-Journal. This Is Louisville was to be a lush, black-and-white publication that documented all corners of the city.

In the end, Huber beat out a period music ensemble called Bourbon Baroque, some puppeteers, and 19 others to claim a $240 bankroll.

“One guy liked it so much, he chipped in an extra $20,” says Huber, accounting for the additional take.

Like a lot of other Kickstarters who rely on a wide variety of resources when planting the seeds for their business or project, Huber amassed more than 500 followers on social media sites before snapping her first image for This Is Louisville.

This attracted press from WFPL, Insider Louisville and others. Once a good buzz had been established, Huber used the Soup deVille money to compile a press kit to attract advertisers. And once ads were in place, Huber launched This Is Louisville’s Kickstarter page in order to secure the rest of the money she needed for the photography mag’s debut issue.

The magazine cleared its $3,500 hurdle with the help of 72 backers. According to Huber, one technique that helped ensure success was being honest about what the publication could offer in return for pledges.

“I tried not to make too many promises,” she says. “Even though you’re not confined by a boss, or whatever, you still have little, individual investors. Even if they just gave a dollar, they still want you to follow through on what they supported you on.”

For Huber and many others, it seems the financial contributions collected through crowdfunding are only a part of the value of the experience.

The word community comes up often when speaking to Kickstarters, and Huber is no different. Now 10 issues in, she continues to communicate with her backers, providing updates on the magazine.

“I want them to see that their $5 is still stretching out. But I also want to keep in touch with them, in case we need them again in the future.”


“I was pretty naïve going into this whole thing. I kind of made up a number, $12,000, and that sounded like a lot of money to me. I got a pretty hard slap of reality. It wasn’t going to be anywhere near enough.” —Stanley Chase III, Morels The Vegan Butcher

Vegans represent a narrow slice of the market, so it creates something of a moving target when you put an animal-free product on wheels. Sometimes the audience had trouble finding Stanley Chase III, owner of Morels Vegan Food Truck and something of a Kickstarter pioneer around here. Chase admits there was a lot he didn’t know before jumping into his campaign with both feet — namely, that there was a minor design flaw at the center of his business model.

Chase has since sold the truck and streamlined the scope of his operation. Speaking with him today, one gets the sense that the experience has added a sharpened business acumen to Morels’ already quality product and clever, colorful branding.

Looking back on the truck, Chase says, “That sucked. But now, every day, more and more, I see it turning into something.”

The company has been reborn as Morels the Vegan Butcher, selling wraps and vegan jerky at a number of outlets, including Heine Brothers Coffee. Seasonal wraps, like the Thanksgiving-themed Turkee Apple Lentil, are currently being offered. Morels’ faux jerky is a new, less perishable revelation that is allowing the company to expand its reach beyond Louisville. The product, which can become rather chummy with a cold beer, evolved from a happy accident. Forgotten soy curls that had sat in the oven too long were later passed around a bar that night. Many could not distinguish it from actual jerky.

Chase says Kickstarter lit a fire under him, pushing him into the game regardless of whether he was totally ready. This evokes something Tyler Deeb from Pedale Designs spoke of when discussing trying to see a campaign all the way through. What are things going to cost? Am I prepared if this explodes and customers start knocking down my doors? There’s a fairly common reaction that occurs when a Kickstarter reaches the financial goal. It goes something like, Shit! I actually have to do this now! People are waiting!

Dreams do come true, and almost always, there are consequences.

“Sometimes I just want to get on the page and thank everybody again,” Chase says when asked for lasting impressions of his campaign. “I have 220 pledgers that, cheesy as it sounds, changed the course of my life. I don’t know if those people ever think about that, or if they even know. I hope they know how grateful I am, because it is something I think about a lot.” 

“There’s so many ways

By passionlab
“There’s so many ways that this can explode if it’s hit right,” Deeb says. “When you approach this, make sure to give credit to who you are, so people can know who they’re supporting. Be someone that they want to support, and offer a product they can get behind. Auto Accident Portland OR

Everyone who is interested

By jackjohnson652
Everyone who is interested in achieving online success should be considering ways to increase productivity. The reason is because when you increase productivity you increase what you are worth, and that in turn translates to more income earned.tyvek event wristbands

Thank you for another

By ankurs127
Thank you for another essential article. Where else could anyone get that kind of information in such a complete way of writing? I have a presentation incoming week, and I am on the lookout for such information. payday loan

Someone to get success

By brunomichelle
Someone to get success stories are very diverse. Usually there is a lot of pain that should be natural for them to achieve success. multiple ip hosting

People who can do many

By jasoncraig
People who can do many things well will succeed the best. But usually there are many challenges that must be done carefully. Bankruptcy lawyers in Everett, WA

All business does have its

By michaellenchez
All business does have its own difficulties. Everyone will be very happy with the business that can be done easily bring a lot of success. http://locksmithandbarrel.com.au/

Being successful is hard.

By antoncravitz
Being successful is hard. There are so many people who want to be successful but they do not want to fight like a man. This thing will not happen. Learn more on Alaska Fishing Trips King of Kings Fishing Lodge

This web site is really a

By ronan1122
This web site is really a walk-through for all of the info you wanted about this and didn’t know who to ask. Glimpse here, and you’ll definitely discover it. bubblegum casting

I would like to thank you

By 9cxvdrj
I would like to thank you for your nicely written post, its informative and your writing style encouraged me to read it till end yachtbooker

Aside from just letting him

By reshhia
Aside from just letting him chew on the links, I also used a chain of them to hook up toys to the stroller bars, so he could freely play with them but they won't drop to the floor. Just remember to buy spare filters, light bulbs and the powercable. usb tipps

Starting an enterprise is an

By BernardLoftus
Starting an enterprise is an extremely difficult issue done by some people. But understand what start currently, then you will lose the chance. Highly recommended Chapter 11 Minnesota Bankruptcy Attorney

There are numerous

By PoloKruse
There are numerous businesses you can start these days. But basically it may be started coming from a small part first as well as make a lot of people amazed. Best Reviews for Belden Catalogue

Everyone who is interested

By ionligas
Everyone who is interested in achieving online success should be considering ways to increase productivity. The reason is because when you increase productivity you increase what you are worth, and that in turn translates to more income earned.tyvek event wristbands Agen Texas dan Domino Online Indonesia Terpercaya | Master Agen Judi Bola Online Terbaik dan Terpercaya di Indonesia | Agen TexaS dan domino Online Indonesia Terpercaya | bola pelangi agen bola sbobet ibcbet casino 338a tangkas togel online indonesia terpercaya | Olb365.com Agen Judi Bola Online, Agen Judi Casino Online Indonesia Terpercaya | Agen Ibcbet | SBOBET | Agen Bola Terpercaya | Agen Bola | Sbobet | Sbobet -

I am hoping the same best

By davidalan1122
I am hoping the same best effort from you in the future as well. In fact your creative writing skills has inspired me. best thermogenic

I am often to blogging and i

By Commenterman
I am often to blogging and i really appreciate your content. The article has really peaks my interest. I am going to bookmark your site and keep checking for new information See more

Kick starter will be one

By BonneiBernnet
Kick starter will be one thing that is very hard to do. There are many people who find different types of impediments can be overcome however. oakville furniture stores

trick photography and

By tinalovely115
trick photography and special effects which can combine for dslr photography for beginners for perfect photos and things.

To be capable of start a

By PoloKruse
To be capable of start a profitable business, then you can do anything. One way is always to make observations that you will find market you happen to be entering. Best Reviews for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Lawyers

Its a great pleasure reading

By davidalan1122
Its a great pleasure reading your post.Its full of information I am looking for and I love to post a comment that "The content of your post is awesome" Great work. http://www.textyourexback2.com/

I haven’t any word to

By ronan1122
I haven’t any word to appreciate this post.....Really i am impressed from this post....the person who create this post it was a great human..thanks for shared this with us. Visit Adult Friends 4 Fab Fun

These figures will likely

By sarazara2
These figures will likely increase on Hallow's eve, when Kickstarter starts providing its solutions to performers and creators in the U. s. Empire. Chicago Tattoo Artists

There are many businesses

By allenfredrico
There are many businesses that you can start today. But basically it can be started from a small section first and make many people amazed. Realty Force Brokerage

Again, you can't connect the

By sarazara2
Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. Sell my property quickly

This is highly informatics,

By sarazara2
This is highly informatics, crisp and clear. I think that everything has been described in systematic manner so that reader could get maximum information and learn many things. check these guys out

This is very educational

By ronan1122
This is very educational content and written well for a change. It's nice to see that some people still understand how to write a quality post! bail bonds in fullerton

To be able to start a

By RoyBlew
To be able to start a business, then you can do anything. One way is to make observations that would be market you are entering. http://www.evpvacuum.com/Products/Oil-Diffusion-Pump.html

This article gives the light

By ronan1122
This article gives the light in which we can observe the reality. This is very nice one and gives in-depth information. Thanks for this nice article. bubblegum casting

Thanks for sharing excellent

By ronan1122
Thanks for sharing excellent informations. Your web-site is very cool. I'm impressed by the details that you have on this web site. It reveals how nicely you perceive this subject. Bookmarked this web page, will come back for extra articles. You, my pal, ROCK! I found simply the information I already searched all over the place and simply couldn't come across. What a perfect web-site. https://www.rebelmouse.com/girlfriendinaweekreviews/

It is imperative that we

By robert1122
It is imperative that we read blog post very carefully. I am already done it and find that this post is really amazing. www.rebelmouse.com

This will now unleash the

By Kennedy
This will now unleash the current struggle between the wheat and the weeds to a higher level. Best rated essay service are going to take us up shit creek and leave us there. Remember Catherine Irwin, 'no good deed goes unpunished'. The world is more complicated than your childish certainties. I'm a ten-year old, and ominous signs lead me to the conclusion that Keep on the Sunny Side is ludicrously important! top best rated essay writing services

Your music is amazing. You

By robert1122
Your music is amazing. You have some very talented artists. I wish you the best of success. income tax return

Being successful is a dream

By antoncravitz
Being successful is a dream that is desired by many people. There were not many people who can succeed in just one night in bed alone. Everything is a struggle. Learn about Seattle Residential Electrician

Kickstarter is a great

By iuliancezar
Kickstarter is a great platform that allows dreams to come true. The only thing that you have to do is to present your dream as good as possible and find people who really believe in it. It is a great way of exchange in the virtual world at least and there is a business communications manager in Milwaukee that can convince you about this.

You should follow the

By CendyGerry
You should follow the standard way at first. Then you can doing in on your own after it. private investigator training online

Love Sport PJS Jacka

By peakjame
You should look for the top rate of outerwear and Parajumpers Jacka i Sverige

I really appreciate this

By robert1122
I really appreciate this wonderful post that you have provided for us. I assure this would be beneficial for most of the people. simple golf swing system

I really loved reading your

By robert1122
I really loved reading your blog. It was very well authored and easy to understand. Unlike other blogs I have read which are really not that good.Thanks alot! http://rebelmouse.com/howtogetexback

Thanks for the blog post

By johnmak1122
Thanks for the blog post buddy! Keep them coming... what does bubblegum casting do

Thanks for a wonderful

By thscp1122
Thanks for a wonderful share. Your article has proved your hard work and experience you have got in this field. Brilliant .i love it reading. https://www.rebelmouse.com/kenburgepaleoburnreview/

Great info! I recently came

By ashleydanielle
Great info! I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have. https://www.rebelmouse.com/oldschoolnewbodyreviewf4x/

Positive site, where did u

By ashleydanielle
Positive site, where did u come up with the information on this posting? I'm pleased I discovered it though, ill be checking back soon to find out what additional posts you include. gereedschap tuin

Thanks for taking the time

By davidalan1122
Thanks for taking the time to discuss that, I feel strongly about this and so really like getting to know more on this kind of field. Do you mind updating your blog post with additional insight? It should be really useful for all of us. how do i lose body fat quickly

Very interesting blog. Alot

By thscp1122
Very interesting blog. Alot of blogs I see these days don't really provide anything that I'm interested in, but I'm most definately interested in this one. Just thought that I would post and let you know. girlfriend activation system epub

I think there is so much

By don44
I think there is so much that you can learn from this business so much here. I hope people take advantage from learning from this. Keep up the good work. Free Online Games

Izdelava spletnih strani gfa

By ankurs127
Thanks for the update related to Whirlpool. The post was very informative and I appreciate you addressing this topic which often does not get much attention given its technical nature. Izdelava spletnih strani gfa

viagra cialis

By Lucky127
I will actually try these tips and let you know how they work out! Thanks again mate.viagra cialis

Blogs are a great way to

By ankurs127
Blogs are a great way to connect strangers share experience and provide useful information. You have achieved just that. Thanks for the share.Optimizacija spletnih strani

Your website is really cool

By ashleydanielle
Your website is really cool and this is a great inspiring article. www.rebelmouse.com/


By ankurs127
Blog ay ganap na hindi kapani-paniwala bilang may mga maraming ng mahusay na impormasyon at inspirasyon. hitradostava.si

Closer to home, more than 50

By amabelmathews89
Closer to home, more than 50 successful campaigns have taken place in Louisville since the site’s launch. CycLOUvia is a recent one, with 91 micro-investors raising enough cash to close Bardstown Road to vehicle traffic one Sunday afternoon this month. Another, “Pleased to Meet Me,” is a feature-length film from Louisville native Archie Borders. Based on a “This American Life” radio story, the film cleared $44,000 in donations with 171 people chipping in. SEO Services Company