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Crowdfunding Tips from Indiegogo & Kickstarter Experts

Sandbox Crowdfunding Workshop

2014 Sandbox Crowdfunding Workshop

On August 6th, over 70 people attended the Sandbox Crowdfunding Workshop in Lowell. This event featured experts who have run successful Indiegogo and Kickstarter crowdfunding campaigns. They included:

  • Julia Gavin, Board Member of the Arts League of Lowell (ALL) – Ran a successful Indiegogo Campaign that raised over $6,000. ALL fosters and celebrates creativity and artistic expression in Lowell and the surrounding areas
  • Nathan Rothstein, Founder of Project Repat – Ran a successful Kickstarter Campaign that had over 175 backers. Project Repat is a venture that transforms old t-shirts into beautiful blankets
  • Sam Antonacio, Founder of Spiceventure – Ran a successful Kickstarter Campaign that raised over $10K. This helped launch their international food truck venture that sells Indian, Lao, Khmer, and Thai Food
  • Lianna Kushi, Program Manager at the Merrimack Valley Sandbox- Ran a successful Kickstarter Campaign that raised over $5K for the Angkor Dance Troupe to fund a world-premiere show

If you are thinking about launching a crowdfudning campaign, here are some helpful tips from the workshop:

Kickstarter vs. Indiegogo

Kickstarter 

  • It's an "all or nothing" model. If you reach your goal, you get to keep the money raised. If you don't, you get nothing, and all of your funders will get a refund
  • Only funds “creative projects." Basically these are projects where one specific thing is made (film, game, book)
  • Monthly Traffic: 5.5 Million U.S.

Indiegogo 

  • Even if you don't raise your target goal, you can still keep a percentage of the funds raised
  • Accepts all types of projects
  • Monthly Traffic: 919,000 U.S.

Before Your Campaign Begins

  • Decide which platform is right for you. There are other platforms out there besides Kickstarter and Indiegogo – think where does your community go online
  • Have a specific ask (don't be vague, tell funders exactly what you would like to use with the money)
  • Set an attainable fundraising goal (with Kickstarter, if you don't hit your target, you lose all of the funds)
  • Craft a clear message
  • Try to make a great video. This will help your campaign be more successful
  • Build up your fundraiser base (you want an audience in place before the campaign begins)
  • Create an outreach strategy. Where it’s press, networking events, how will you reach people and how will they find out about you.
  • Don’t go at it alone, have support.

During the Campaign

  • Hustle! Don’t just sit back, get out there and network (whether in person or online, make sure you’re connecting with potential donors)
  • Schedule time to devote to the campaign, for example Sam spent 2 hours a day promoting Spiceventure’s Kickstarter for the duration of the campaign
  • Write energetic and engaging updates
  • Make expectations clear, especially when rewards will be received
  • Do good to get good. Help promote other campaigns in your space, even maybe donate a little here and there. It’s a community so what goes around could come around
  • But remember, don’t solely do it to get something, you may be disappointed

After the Campaign

  • Fulfill your promise to the backers! Make sure that you deliver what you’ve said you will. If something comes up and you can’t or things change let them know
  • Communicate and update. Related to above, let your donors know what’s going on. If something new has happened because of their support, share it with them
  • If you don’t succeed, don’t be bitter and thank those who supported you. Find other ways to engage them and get them connected to your company or your cause

Crowdfunding isn’t for Everyone

  • There are lots of way to connect with customers and even to get them to prepay besides crowdfunding. For example Nathan, with Project Repat found flash sale sites like Groupon and Living Social to have a further reach and generate more sales
  • Certain businesses and ideas don’t do well on crowdfunding
  • It’s time consuming and may not pay off, weight your priorities. If you’re a non-profit it may seem like an innovative fun thing to try, but think about where your donors are and who they are. If you’re trying to engage a new base, make sure they are likely to be on these sites or attracted to online donor campaigns.

Resources

New Hires to Scale Up the Sandbox Mentor Programs!

Eduardo Crespo & Trish Fleming are the new Sandbox Mentor Managers

In February, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the MassTech Collaborative awarded the Sandbox a $150K grant to strengthen and scale up its mentor programs.

Part of those funds have been used to hire two new part-time Mentor Managers:

Eduardo Crespo
  • Will design and develop a mentor program for the Sandbox Spanish Language Program
  • Will recruit successful bilingual entrepreneurs
  • Brings over 20 years of experience as an entrepreneur that includes founding Hispanic Market Solution
 
Trish Fleming
  • Will strengthen and enhance the mentor program for the Sandbox Accelerator
  • Will train and recruit seasoned high impact mentors from across the region
  • Brings over 20 years of experience in the entrepreneurship and non-profit spaces that includes serving as the Executive Director of the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge

Click here to learn more on how to become a Sandbox Mentor!

 

Head of SEO at TripAdvisor Gives Tips on Optimizing Your Website

 

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Jon Mellen, Head of SEO at TripAdvisor, gives his advice on optimizing your website

It was a star-studded week at the Sandbox. First, Jim Mill (Founder of Fire+Ice) connected with our Sandbox Accelerator Finalists about his successes and failures (see post below for full recap). Then, Jon Mellen (Head of SEO at TripAdvisor) stopped by to do a session on the basics of Search Engine Optiimzation. Here were some of his tips:

Basics of SEO

  • Definition: SEO is a science to support Free Search
  • Risks: The right SEO can net you thousands of visitors and attention, but the wrong moves can hide your site deep in the search results where visibility is minimal (putting up bad content or links)
  • Index + Rank: In addition to making content available to search engines, SEO also helps boost rankings so that content will be placed where searchers will more readily find it

Always Collect Authentic & Relevant Links

  • Links are an essential tool for SEO. Once Google discovers your page through at least one link, your page becomes “indexed”
  • A single link is enough to be discovered. But multiple links increase your credibility, and can help you to rank better next to a competitor
  • Links must be authentic (not purchased)
  • Relevant links are more valuable (if you have an event business, it's more valuable to get a link from flowers.com than lawyers.com)
  • Links from high value pages are more valuable (i.e. Boston.com)

Develop Content that is Relevant to Both Users & Search Engines

You should always build your website for users, not search engines...but still consider some important factors:

  • Search engines typically cannot read images, video, or flash--so always use html & text
  • Text should be written based on how people search
  • Keep content consistent across a page (and in the page title), to avoid confusing search engines (and users)
  • Be unique: avoid duplicate content, both across your site and between other sites

Resources