You did it! You completed a successful crowdfunding campaign built by preparation, a compelling crowdfunding video, strong promotion and a savvy campaign page. But don’t sit back and relax yet. Once the glory of your successful crowdfunding campaign fades, you’ll quickly realize you are now accountable to hundreds, if not thousands of backers, rather than a few venture capitalists.
I understand this scenario all too well. My company, SkyBell, raised over five times our funding goal with thousands of backers in 50 countries. We entered the product development phase and quickly realized our success depended on our ability to execute our vision and fulfill our orders. It wasn’t easy, but these four principles helped us launch successfully — and turn our crowdfunded product into a sustainable business.
Stay Focused on the Product
One of the great outcomes of a crowdfunding campaign is the feedback you receive from backers and the public. Take every opportunity to document feedback, but also consider how implementing customer input may impact your timeline, costs and core offering. Be conservative. Adding product features post-campaign can push impact launch deadlines. Instead, take the time to assess opportunities. Your primary objective is to ship your product and complete a successful launch.
Keep Backers in the Loop
Your backers share your vision and passion. Even though they are not investors in the traditional sense, backers are a part of the journey and will want to participate as much as possible. The key to keeping backers happy is communication. Even when we thought we were communicating consistently, it still wasn’t enough.
While it’s easy to get bogged down in product development or conserve communication for proprietary reasons, make every effort to provide detailed updates on a frequent basis. This will assure backers that things are rolling along and it becomes particularly important if your launch date is extended. On average, crowdfunded projects that fulfill perks do so 90 days after the original target date. If you don’t communicate well during the development phase, you could see a turning point where backers become anxious.
Plan Ahead for Customer Support
In a perfect world, a product launch goes exactly as planned and customers sing your praises. However, the reality is this: all startup launches have bugs. Your team will be small since you are operating on campaign funds. This dynamic adds extra pressure to create an efficient customer service strategy.
To make customer relations easier first ensure your website has easy to find documentation, FAQs, photos and videos on how to use the product or service. Second, document potential issues and respective solutions for your customer service team so they know how best to help customers. Third, create a plan to record reported issues, consolidate them for the development team and communicate updates via your customer service team. Remember, backers will expect a few bumps in the road and they’ll be thrilled if you have the resources ready to solve problems quickly and efficiently.
Plan to Raise More Capital
Your ability to cultivate a second income stream quickly after launch could be the difference between a thriving business and fifteen minutes of fame. For most crowdfunded startups, there comes a time when your initial funds run low. This can happen before or just after your launch. The result is a gap between your initially crowdsourced funds and your next round of funding. Financing is likely not an option. The key is to identify additional revenue sources that will help you obtain new orders after launch.
There’s no doubt that crowdfunding has created new opportunities for startups that could never have been possible otherwise. From start to finish, it’s a great vehicle that makes innovation possible and allows you to build a sustainable business. To get there, you’ll have to carefully navigate the post-campaign phase to strategically position yourself for long-term success.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Andrew Thomas is the co-founder of SkyBell – a home automation startup pioneering a Wi-Fi video doorbell that allows users to answer their front door from a smartphone. SkyBell raised $585,000 through Indiegogo and was named a 2014 CES Innovations Award Nominee. Andrew specializes in marketing and mobile user experience design for product and software development. Andrew speaks and writes on topics including home automation, crowdfunding and startups. Connect with @apthomas on Twitter.
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