Update: On August 26th, 2014 The Coolest Cooler became the most funded project on Kickstarter
Ryan Grepper is the inventor of the Coolest. It's a multi-purpose cooler with all the bells and whistles. It's also the 3rd most funded project on Kickstarter, but it almost didn't see the light of day. Its first campaign on Kickstarter failed to meet its goal, but that didn't stop Ryan Grepper. He pushed on like a true entrepreneur does and adjusted his approach.
Here is his story:
Q: What were your business goals and objectives for your Kickstarter campaign?
A: I simply wanted to reach my funding goal of 50,000 dollars. That was what I considered the minimum amount I’d need to move the idea forward.
Q: Why did you decide to seek funding on Kickstarter as opposed to seeking funding from investors or other more traditional sources?
A: Kickstarter, and crowdfunding in general, offers great opportunity for creators and inventors. The traditional model often involves ramping up for production before a single sale has been made. Kickstarter allows you to minimize your risk and place your idea directly before your potential customer much earlier and for less cost. If enough people are willing to vote for your idea with their wallet you know that there is real interest in your concept. If you don’t hit your goal you can either re-evaluate and adjust as I did after my first Coolest campaign or move on to the next idea.
Q: Why did you choose Kickstarter over other crowdfunding platforms?
A: Each crowdfunding platform has its pros and cons and should be evaluated based on your goals and your outreach strategy. I chose Kickstarter because I had more experience as a backer on that platform and because it had a higher percentage of funded campaigns in my category.
Q: Many crowdfunding campaigns have difficulty gaining traction. Did you do any marketing or promotion to draw more traffic to your campaign?
A: This is actually my second Kickstarter campaign for the Coolest. When I launched my first campaign for the Coolest last November I thought that if you started with a good enough idea people would find it and success was inevitable. Perhaps many people may feel that way. When the campaign failed I took a hard look at what went wrong. I did not give up - I saw that there was interest and I hoped that with a few strategy changes the Coolest could be a success. Here’s what I learned:
Kickstarter is a very visual medium. I needed to advance the design of the Coolest prototype to best showcase my vision. I advanced the design and am thrilled that folks are connecting with it.
Time of year really does matter. It sounds obvious now, but launching a product when backers are most likely to be receptive makes a difference. I thought we could appeal to tailgaters and Christmas shoppers in November, but that did not work. Re-launching in July has been perfect because people are in the frame of mind to consider a cooler.
It’s critical to develop a following before the campaign. I was encouraged that there were people who showed interest in the Coolest and we worked hard to nurture and grow that excitement in between our first and current campaign. By the time we launched we had a core group of interested backers and I can’t believe how that excitement has grown. I am beyond grateful for every single backer.
Q: Currently, you’ve surpassed your Kickstarter fundraising goal by over 1,500%. What do you attribute this to and are you surprised by your campaigns’ level of success thus far?
A: This campaign has already exceeded my dreams and I am enormously grateful. I love using my Coolest and I think that my backers are excited about experiencing the same kind of fun with their own Coolest. I can’t wait for them to have that experience.
Q: If Kickstarter or a similar crowdfunding platform like it didn’t exist, how would this have impacted your ability to bring the Coolest to the market?
A: Crowdfunding allows inventors to test their ideas quickly and see if they resonate with potential customers. Without crowdfunding I would likely have tried to approach a large company to license it from me, which would have been a real challenge without proven customer interest in this new category of a cooler. I likely would have just enjoyed my personal prototype and moved on to an easier invention to license.
Q: What advice would you give to other individuals or businesses who are considering setting up a crowdfunding campaign?
A: I certainly have learned from my mistakes and of course that’s key to succeeding in business and life. As with most things, preparation and strategic persistence are key. Determine your target customer and connect with then before your campaign starts. They will help you get and build momentum.