Launching my first Kickstarter project

The story behind launching my first project on Kickstarter.

Posted in Main Thread on December 6, 2013

Earlier this week I launched my first Kickstarter project. For those not familiar, Kickstarter is a way to raise money for a project. It does so through crowdsourcing. So what’s crowdsourcing?

Crowdsourcing obtains resources from a larger group instead of individuals. For example, if your goal is to raise $1,000, it may be easier to get $5 from a lot of people than it is to get $1,000 from one.

Kickstarter allows people to pledge money to projects. In return, these backers may receive rewards. Normally something to do with the project. If the project reaches its goal it receives the funds. If not, everyone gets their money back.

My project - wadl

As a software engineer my spoken vocabulary has suffered. After all, I talk to computers all day. For years I’ve wanted to improve my vocabulary.

I’ll continually hear words I want to use myself. Even though I jot these down somewhere I never remember to use them.

I thought about making an app to store the words I want to learn. But a simple word list is not enough. I want the app to help you learn words. I’ve slowly refined this idea and finally have enough to make an app.

I’m nicknaming the app wadl (pronouced waddle). wadl is a duck-themed app to help improve your vocabulary. Take a minute to watch the video.

Why Kickstarter

A lot goes into an app. You have design, development, marketing, and depending on the app, server or support costs. But, in my opinion, creating an app that nobody uses is far worse than the possibility of wasting money.

wadl seems pretty simple - just add some words. But that’s actually asking a lot. You have to stop, open the app, and take time to add a word. On top of that, for the app to be useful, wadl needs lots of people to do this, continually. Because wadl relies on user generated content, making this a paid app would further limit its user base.

While wadl seems like a simple app on the surface, it’s really not. Kickstarter not long allows me to generate funding for a free app, but also to build initial buzz before the app hits the market.

Kickstarting

Launching a project on Kickstarter was pretty straightforward. However, it was a longer process that I expected. Especially the administrative items. Here’s the process:

  1. Create a Kickstarter account
  2. Create an Amazon Payments account
  3. Verify your Amazon Payments account
  4. Create your first project
  5. Review your project
  6. Submit your project to Kickstarter
  7. Launch your project

The biggest time drains were creating my Amazon Payments account and submitting to Kickstarter. The verification process took about a week and required me faxing several documents to Amazon. Kickstarter also takes a few days to review your project before you can launch.

If you plan to launch a Kickstarter project I strongly recommend starting items 1-3 immediately.

A quick rant about Kickstarter’s pledge process. Kickstarter requires registering for a Kickstarter account before making a pledge. Kickstarter seems more interested in gathering user data for themselves before collecting money for your project. Several of my friends came back to me saying, “I don’t have a Kickstarter account.”. While I understand building a user base, providing a guest checkout or registering for a Kickstarter account after making a pledge could lead to more funding.

Kickstarter progress

Currently wadl is about 10% funded. At this rate wadl should reach its goal. Unfortunately I’ve read that a lot of projects are funded in the first few days. So I have to admit I’m a little concerned.

In the event, wadl reaches it’s goal, I’ll do a follow-up post with some addition tips for a launching a successful Kickstarter project.

In the meantime, back wadl.

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