Palm Beach Tech AssociationPalm Beach Tech Association

By Daniel Lofaso

Recently I was lucky enough to interview Kate Reddy from DreamScreen, a local Boca Raton startup that recently spoke at one of our Meetups. Reddy shined some light on her success with Kickstarter, the popular crowdfunding website.

  1. Please tell us about your product, DreamScreen, and why you choose Kickstarter to launch it?

DreamScreen is smart LED backlighting for home theater. DreamScreen works with any HDMI TV and enhances the size of the TV, softens the image and even makes watching TV easier on your eyes. Other products in the past had to be connected through computers and had a delay in responsiveness. This was a solution in that space, as it offers a responsive rate of 60 f/s for any TV, movie or video game.  We chose Kickstarter because it has a large technology community and is full of tech early adopters.

The Lights on the Back of Your Television React to the Color Pixels on Your Screen!

  1. How did you get so savvy at Kickstarter?

It’s like any other marketing launch, it’s about understanding consumer behavior and knowing your target customer. This was my first venture into the platform, but I have previous experience managing digital marketing campaigns so I used that knowledge to create a buzz.

  1. You raised $382,658 dollars for your startup through Kickstarter, yet you only asked for $25,000. What’s the secret to your success?

Yes! It is a numbers game. Put a very conservative goal on Kickstarter. You want the project to fund in the first 24-48 hours of your launch. It impresses people, and gives you the availability to say you were 1,500% funded, and so forth.

Kickstarter is its own animal, most of the backers of our campaign were backers of other projects. If you meet goals quickly Kickstarter can give you better exposure on their homepage or through other internal features on the site. When people write articles about you and mention that you have sailed past your goals it makes people more likely to take notice.

If you post a really large goal and you don’t meet that mark, you won’t get a dollar. It’s kind of a gamble, so you really want to put an amount you know you can reach.

  1. What kind of startup product/service is Kickstarter right for?

Technology products are probably the best category. I’ve seen success in many other avenues though, including games, theater and arts, new food and beverage ideas, etc.; I don’t think it’s necessarily about the category, but more the quality of the product.

  1. How long would you suggest a company push a funding round on Kickstarter?

Kickstarter recommends 30-40 days, and that is ample time.

  1. How important is showing a budget for one’s company and what should this include or not include?

I didn’t do that and I think it’s more important to show a viable product. The backers are taking a gamble on you, convince them it is real, it is happening. We spent a great deal of time creating visuals, a great video, and helping to inform potential backers of all the specifics of our product. Showcasing that you know your stuff can often be a trust-earning aspect of a campaign that negates the need to show line-by-line what you intend to do with money you may earn.

  1. How can a company actively market their Kickstarter campaign? Is it ever too early to drum up pre-launch buzz?

I choose to do a soft launch and sent it to promoters – other people in tech, my immediate network, technology writers and editors, etc. I sent it out to editors and YouTubers so the general public knew it was real and that if they backed the project, they were going to receive a DreamScreen. This resulted in some good press which we later used to showcase as social proof on our Kickstarter page. It added another trust element to backers because they could see that tech magazines and blogs had already featured us.

The takeaway is that people who do a soft launch (pre-Kickstarter) probably have more success than those who are making their first impression on Kickstarter. It goes back to the trust element; if tech writers like the product why wouldn’t a consumer?

Other advice: We also spent a lot of time writing a good press release and translating it into as many languages as possible. I even closed-captioned it in English, because I found that deaf people were interested in the visual effects of DreamScreen. I had the video translated into five languages because Kickstarter is such an international community and I didn’t want to exclude anyone.  Next time I launch something I’m going to push it out to 10 languages or more.

  1. How can companies come up with good stories that will help to sell themselves as well as their products?

We wanted the product to be the face of the company, not us as founders. A lot of people wanted us to put ourselves on our video we created. We went to conferences and people suggested putting ourselves in our video and we decided against it.

That said, my DreamScreen profile is my husband and I and we linked our Facebook page to show we are real people. Other than that, we showed pictures of the team on the campaign page to show that we were a viable company. We remained product-focused and tried to keep the spotlight away from us and onto our product, and it worked out well for us.

  1. What kind of stretch goals do you suggest?

We got so much feedback from the backers that we based our goals on what backers were asking for. For example, some people wanted a Windows app, others wanted integration with a Smart Watch, some wanted new Ambient Scenes and others wanted us to integrate DreamScreen with their home lighting, so we added those to the campaign as Stretch Goals, and are currently developing those add-ons.

The backers loved it when we listened to them and did as they requested. Let the backers tell you how to improve your product and you win their loyalty and get free consumer perspective.

  1. What are good Kickstarter resources that you like?

Kicktraq.com is good resource to see where you are trending and gives you a lot of analytics on your campaign [that Kickstarter doesn’t]. We went there almost every day to see how our campaign was doing.

Other vital things to these campaigns are strong targeting of:

  • Facebook ad campaigns
  • Behavioral targeting ads
  • PPC
  • Paid Search
  • Digital Banner Ads with retargeting

 

  1. What other preparation did you do before launching?

We had all our developer work already done, we had our app built, and we encouraged people to download it. A lot of Kickstarter products don’t deliver so whatever you can do to alleviate those concerns the better off you’ll be.

The more information you can put on the page the better. My campaign page has tons of specs, timelines, photos, and a desire to inundate the user with as much info as possible.

  1. Any other advice?

One piece of advice I’d give is to not to launch your crowdfunding project on Indiegogo. Kickstarter has a higher level of legitimacy because you actually have to have a tangible product or service and a working prototype, whereas with Indiegogo you just have to have an idea, so it is a much bigger gamble to the consumer. People want to back a product that is ready to go and have the assurance their money is being well spent.

Daniel Lofaso

Daniel E. Lofaso is the CEO and technical SEO strategist of Digital Elevator and is also the co-founder of startup SwellSpy. Lofaso also serves on the Startup Council of Palm Beach Tech and leads the Content Marketing sub-committee for the organization. Connect with Lofaso on Twitter and
LinkedIn.
How to Raise $382,658 on Kickstarter: Kate Reddy with DreamScreen