NovelTeas launched a tea tin KickStarter campaign into the hot and muggy month of August. Historically this was a bad time for crowdfunding and instinctively, a bad time for hot tea, but for personal reasons and product logistics, SS NovelTeas needed to set sail right away.
( It turns out 'SS' stands for Steam Ship, very appropriate for NovelTeas :)
In short, we proposed to the KickStarter community that we would make literature-inspired tea tins resembling classic novels with original artwork for decoration and with punny titles like War & Peach and Don QuixoTea. We made a video and explained the idea behind our artwork, wordplay, and uniquely blended teas (each to match the theme and title of a classic novel.)
Then magically (but actually with a ton of work) thousands of wonderful people online backed our idea - gave us their money, advice and word of mouth. We were funded in less than two days, and it wasn't long until a real ship was sailing International waters to deliver NovelTea Tins to more than 1500 customers.
The experience of preparing and managing this KickStarter was VERY enlightening. It convinced us of the awesome power in crowdfunding and we'd like to impart some of that experience to you!
Before you get started with a KickStarter campaign you must know the environment you’re walking into. Read about KickStarter, read about successful AND failed projects, and read about crowdfunding in general. We found advice in all corners of the internet. We messaged other tea KickStarters, searched google, reddit, weird forums I’ll never visit again, and we even read about other crowdfunding platforms like IndieGoGo and GoFundMe. Here are some great numbers to help you make the decision.
You will need to know everything about your product and you will need to be able to describe it VERY clearly to strangers who you will never meet.
NovelTeas required a lot of collaboration. Find people (friends, family, folks online) who are excited by what you're doing and ask them if they'd like to play a part in it.
There are at least two reasons why the simplest version of your idea is best: First, it is easier for others to figure out what you’re talking about. Most people scanning a KickStarter page will not waste time trying to figure out your idea, it must quick and easy to understand. Second, a simpler idea is a more achievable and believable proposition . Nobody will buy into your plan if it appears to be out of reach, so don’t shoot yourself in the foot while shooting for the moon. NovelTeas could have announced a Library of 50 NovelTea tins, all with wonderful quotes on unique tea bags or with fancy book-inspired tea strainers. Over several months, we realized that a minimally viable product would be work-enough to assemble properly, so we simplified our idea to making 3 *perfect* tea tins with excellent loose organic tea inside each tin.
Create really nice quality images. If you don’t know how to do this yourself, it’s a good time to find a partner. Images are so much more powerful than text on your KickStarter. Your images should explain clearly what you’re doing. This is important not only for helping people visualize your idea, but because formatting the KickStarter project page text can be a pain. Meanwhile, we would also suggest “keeping it real” there’s no need to pay for a reality you don’t have. If you’re in the early stages of presenting something you can look good without looking like you spent $100,000 on design and renderings. In fact, we think it’s best to reflect your tastefulness with a humble budget.
Spend at least 1 month promoting your KickStarter before you launch it. You want to have a big first day so to build that momentum will take time. Message people for advice, share your images and your concept with friends and family, and even with people online who you think would offer you good ideas. If you communicate with them well, all of these people will be on your side come day 1. Find people who will tear into your ideas and give you hell, not just the ones who will tell you, “it looks great!”
Think about the mechanics of filling your orders and the shipping that is required. You’ll have people from all around the world seeing and buying your product and you’ll not want to be wrong about the costs of getting your product to them. International shipping is very expensive! Reach out to companies that specialize in fulfillment and shipping like ShipBob or Shipgooder and try to get their advice and estimates early on.