Mesto – Developing & Crowd Funding

mesto product development

Richard is a D2M Designer who successfully launched his product Mesto on Kickstarter last year. In this post he will explain how he achieved his funding goal and the challenges he faced along the way.

I designed Mesto during my final year of study at University, and after a number of design iterations I had a final prototype that I went on to exhibit with at the annual graduate design show – New Designers show in London.

After gaining lots of interest at the show I decided it was worth pursuing the route of trying to manufacture the product and get it into the shops. I began looking at the best route to do this and Kickstarter as a platform appealed to me on the ground that should I fund successfully I could manufacture the product myself and oversee the process without a large personal capital investment. After sourcing wooden manufacturers and receiving quotes, I went with the factory who I believed could produce the best quality product at the most competitive price. I also used a second plastic injection moulding factory who I had worked with before to produce the ͚clear shield͛ component. Mesto only had one small injection moulded component so this kept the tooling cost low. This allowed a lower Kickstarter funding target than if I had a series of injection moulded components, but it did mean the overall unit cost was higher.

After working out all of the costs required I worked out my funding goal to be the fairly low total of £6500.Before I go into the details of the campaign I must let you know that running a Kickstarter campaign is no easy task. It requires substantial effort to not only put the campaign together but to also promote the campaign to get backers. Kickstarter is no easy task and having a great campaign is not always enough to get you backers!

The next step was to write the campaign and film the video that would sell the idea to any potential backers on Kickstarter. Many hours where spent filming and editing the video and after around five edits I had a final cut. The written campaign also went through a similar amount of edits. I was sure to show the video and campaign drafts to friends, family and colleagues to ensure it was as clean, clear and concise. Less is certainly more with a Kickstarter campaign as you don͛t want to overload the reader with too much unnecessary information.

I was then ready to launch the campaign, but wanted to try and create a bit of a buzz before it was live to help get me more backers early on the in campaign. Before the campaign went live I set up a number of social media platforms for Mesto including Facebook, Twitter & Instagram. I then began a 30 day ͚pre Kickstarter͛ campaign.

No doubt my friends, family and colleagues found me fairly irritating during that month as I was posting constantly on social media and messaging literally everyone I knew with a personal message letting them know I was running the campaign. I was sure to provide them a background on what Kickstarter was as not everyone was familiar with it. I also provided a date and time the campaign was to go live, this was to ensure I got as much support and backers during the first day.

I also let everyone know that a small number of cheaper products (between 40-20% off the RRP) where available to the first series of backers and that if they backed the campaign quickly they would receive a cheaper product. This worked excellently and caused everyone notified to back to campaign much quicker to get a cheaper product. Launch day came and I went live on a Sunday evening on the basis that everyone would likely be home and able to back the campaign. Within the first hour or so, the majority of my friends, family and colleagues all backed the campaign, causing my funding goal to rocket upwards. When a project is brand new on Kickstarter it is much easier to get random backers that you don͛t know on the basis that it is high in the ͚new͛ rankings page on Kickstarter. As I had a steadily climbing funding goal on the first day it meant that a series of backers who had previously not known of the campaign and had just stumbled across it on Kickstarter, then backed it. I sent out a series of messages to everyone I knew again on the first day, letting them know it was live and thanking them for their support. By the end of day one the campaign was over 50% funded at £3787.

Over the next few days I continued to obsessively plug the campaign to anyone who hadn’t backed it yet. I also made contact with a number of online design blogs and local magazines with a press pack, of which some went on to write articles to help promote the campaign. With all this work, by day five we hit the £5000 mark. Achieving the final £1500 was very difficult on the basis that I had exhausted all of my personal contacts and had to try and promote the campaign solely myself through social media. It was a long slog and took an awful lot of effort, but by day 20 we had hit the funding goal of £6500. I ran the Kickstarter campaign for 60 days thinking that it would give me more time to get backers and would only be a good thing, but in hindsight I was wrong. Once I hit my goal the campaign began to stagnate and slow down rapidly. Over the remaining days some backers also began to cancel their pledges frustratingly.

For the final 30 days for the campaign not a huge amount happened and annoyingly, Kickstarter wouldn’t let me finish the campaign early. One final point is that my goal of £6500 did not cover every expense throughout the manufacturing process as expected and I actually needed nearer £9,000. However, I would not have achieved this funding goal, so having the lower target of £6500 allowed me to put the product into production whilst being able to get together the remaining money alongside sampling the product with the factory pre-production. I will be writing a second blog post about what happened between the campaign and receiving the product in the UK soon, but I hope this post gives you a good overview of preparing and running a Kickstarter campaign. Amazon link

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