Tinkering, Rebranding, and Crowdfunding

A lot going on right now. I’m building up this website, putting final touches on the LED wheel prototype, rebranding from Full Circle Forge to CyrCraft, and gearing up to launch A KickStarter campaign! And that’s all happening alongside the normal building and shipping of orders.

Those are the bigger pieces of what’s going on right now. There are of course a lot of smaller pieces involved in each of those projects. Next week I’ll be recording for an interview by Sal Briggman for the Crowdfunding Demystified Podcast. I’ve been listening to this podcast for the past month or so to get my head straight about putting together the KickStarter. One of the recurring themes he mentions is doing research on similar campaigns to see what worked or not for them. Since Cyr wheels, and especially LED Cyr wheels are such a niche market, it’s been hard to find similar kickstarter campaigns to compare mine to.
I emailed Sal to ask for some guidance and he got right back to me. A few emails later he asked if I’d do a podcast interview, as a lot of the questions I’ve come up with could be helpful for other folks with niche products that most of the crowd might not have any interest in. I said “Definitely!”. I’m a podcast, blog and youtube junkie. It’s where I learn all my stuff. The chance to give back a little bit with stuff that I’m figuring out is awesome!

Here are some of the questions I have for Sal:
Why go with crowdfund this at all?
How to find similar campaigns that I can learn from?
Can I simultaneously sell beta units while pre-selling production models on kickstarter?
Is there another platform (indiegogo, gofundme) that might be a better fit?

First off, I’ve always felt excited at the thought of doing a really cool kickstarter project. It sounds cool, right? But what does Kickstarter offer that I can’t do on my own? I probably won’t be pulling in any sales from the Kickstarter backer network, unless they happen to be Cyr people already. Most of the sales will likely come from word of mouth and my own marketing/social media network.
With crowdfunding, even if you have a great product idea that everybody could use, it’s still essential to have your own marketing on point before launching the campaign. Since I’ve already done some of that, it’ll help out the campaign.
Why not pre-sell LED Cyr wheels through my website? I’ll save Kickstarter’s fee that way. I’ve been kinda torn on this from a purely financial perpective. But if only one extra sale comes from Kickstarter’s network, it’ll be worth it.
On a more general level, thinking about how to structure this as a crowdfunding campaign helps me tie together a lot of the details that I might not normally look at as parts of the same picture. It’s kind of like making a business plan in that it makes you think through details, but add to that posting it on the internet where everyone can vote on how good it is. Between working out pricing, production timelines, planning improvements to my manufacturing techniques, and staying in contact with customers, there are a lot of pieces to balance. Kickstarter is designed to help project creators stay on top of all those moving pieces. I think that’s the main reason why I’m pretty set on it.
But we’ll see what Sal says tomorrow!