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January 8, 2021

#7 Behind the Crowd

Experiences and learnings from our third Crowdfunding Campaign.

There’s a ton of articles on Crowdfunding out there: the dos and don’ts, the different platforms, success stories… but there’s very little on the work and emotional toll on the creator side. So here’s our take on that so that it may:

1) Help us – and other creators – better manage the emotional barrage that is a crowdfunding campaign.

2) Help our own community get to know a team that, for all its rights & wrongs, gave their all to bring this to life.

Pre-launch

The 30 days prior to the campaign are lethal: palpable anxiety is layered over more work than you can cram in every waking hour. To top that off, what little down time you get often winds up being consumed by the campaign anyways. In our case, projecting potential campaign scenarios (which is mostly guesswork at this stage) was the go-to way to pass the time. This wandering of the mind usually ends up in one of two places:

1) The Home Run: What if we blow this thing out of the water?

2) The Crisis: What if it tanks completely?

Anyone who has run a Campaign will have probably asked himself these questions over and over again… and it has nothing to do with how confident you are with your product, the mind wanders simply because you can’t help it. Both these questions can and will keep you up at night. Our remedy of choice? Work. When in doubt, keep grinding. If this thing fails, it won’t be – it cannot be – for lack of trying, which lifts a certain weight off your shoulders. We call this the ‘no regrets syndrome’, and unhealthy as it may seem, it has worked for us thus far.

Go Live

Clicking the green button is more a relief than a rush. At that point it doesn’t matter if the campaign page has been ready to go for days or you just made a last-minute tweak, you are done. Granted, the bliss doesn’t last long… the team-wide toast will quickly fade into a frenzy of emails, phone calls, backers, and comments. And refreshing that campaign page… there’s a lot of that, too (if there was a click-counter for page refreshing we’d probably be embarrassed about it). It all feels very much like the Wall Street you see in movies: everyone mans their battle stations, gets into their pre-defined roles, and off it goes. Once a Campaign is live, there’s no stopping it… you can only try to keep up. The ‘no regrets syndrome’ still applies here… the peace of mind of knowing you did everything humanely possible to make it work is weirdly convenient.

FARO Launch day – October 6th, 2020

A crowdfunding campaign brings with it two types of wear for the creator: one visible, one often overlooked.

The physical wear is straightforward enough, there’s visible work for every backer to see behind the product, the content, the video, the page itself, even the replies to comments – how fast they come and how well-crafted they are – they all attest to hours upon hours of work being poured into the campaign.

The second wear, however, is mental… less obvious to a backer on the front end and quite deadly for a creator. We’ve dissected it into 4 parts, all of them problematic if not properly countered (and jotted down some suggestions to help deal with them):

1. Wrongly managing expectations

Even knowing what you’re in for doesn’t help much here. We’re talking about 30 days of your life during which you will go to bed & wake up thinking of a number, compare every day with the last, compare your campaign to others, plotting graphs & crunching figures. Every single day you are setting expectations: how many daily backers is enough? What’s a solid weekly average? What’s your target ROAS? What’s your limit ROAS? It’s quite easy to fall into this cycle.

Our suggestions:

a) Know that with so many variables at play (product, category, price-point, content, platform, time of the year, etc.) some things are true unknowns. For instance, you can’t accurately predict what traffic your campaign will get until you actually launch it. Focus on what you can control.

b) Work with a crowdfunding-specific agency with enough experience to moderate your expectations or better yet, craft them with you. In our case, this was Tross – their support was essential. A big shout out to Alex, Yaniv, and their talented team.

c) Avoid funding expectations based on available marketing budget. It’s not as simple as ‘putting 1 in, taking 3 out’.

2. Fear of Public Scrutiny

A live campaign has clear indicators on number of backers and revenue, for all to see. With a single click anyone can see how well (or bad) it’s going. This radical transparency can certainly bring unease and vulnerability. And it’s not just backers either, everyone you know is probably aware – since you asked for their help to begin with – and will be following the campaign closely. This all boils down to a heavy weight on your shoulders that can’t be shaken off for as long as the campaign is live.

Our suggestions:

a) Those backers who are close to you are mostly happy to have supported you. All you owe them is keeping up the hard work to make that product happen. Don’t let that turn into more pressure and rather use it as motivation. If at the end of the line you have a product for them, it will be the most gratifying thing ever (both for you and them).

b) Results are out there for all to see. Yes this is scary… but if they’re good, it will only make it better. Work hard for every single dollar.

3. Sensibility to comments

Backers are not buying a product, they are a part of your project – imagine you have a new board of directors that, through their support, have earned a right to judge & criticize your product well beyond a customer buying a product and a store. And it’s OK, in fact, it’s the whole point of crowdfunding. They are your first consumers, so you’ll want to hear what they have to say, learn from it and use it: considering your product is not yet set in stone, their feedback can help shape your product. Be aware that 9 times out of 10, a backer will critique the idea, not the person behind it. The catch is, after all the work you put into that idea/product/content/video/campaign, yourself and your idea will – for the duration of the campaign – be the one and the same. While a digital pat on the back can make your day, a negative comment can just as easily bring you down. And there will be plenty of those, too: there will always be someone who’s not pleased with whatever you created and that’s a fact of life. The key here is to enjoy the positive comments and learn from the negative ones. Some thoughts on how to cope:

“Backers (…) have earned a right to judge & criticize your product well beyond a customer buying a product and a store. And it’s OK, in fact it’s the whole point of crowdfunding.

a) Stick to facts. Backers are entitled to their opinions, whatever they may be. You as creator, not so much. While opinions are subjective and endlessly debatable, facts are absolute and can’t be challenged as much. Use them.

b) Keep a cool head. Never lose your temper. Have someone external to your team keep you in check and provide sensible, objective input (the type you can’t possibly produce yourself since you’re so invested to begin with). For us, this was Alejo Verlini, cofounder at Bluesmart and longtime creator. He steadied our hand and cooled our heads on more than one occasion.

c) Develop a thick skin. There might be some trolls whose apparent purpose is making your life miserable… but remember you are way more sensitive than usual, so it’s very likely not that bad to begin with (and you just don’t see it).

In any case, don’t let them get to you and always be super polite. Sometimes your own backers will recognize a troll and come to your aid, which is pretty cool. Pro-tip: if haters persist and all else fails, offer them a video call, they will probably chicken out and leave you be.

4- Mood Swings

There will be good days that will have you floating and bad days that will make you question the very idea behind your campaign – and this can literally happen one day to the next. Say you have 100 backers one day and 50 the next. Is 100 your benchmark or simply a spike? Is 50 ok or does it only look poor when compared to 100? If you follow your campaign hourly or daily (which at some point is inevitable) you’ll be sucked into an emotional rollercoaster that will lift you up and put you down so fast and so often, you won’t come out unscathed. So how does one avoid this?

a) Have some breathing room: always talking about the campaign will only lift up the highs and lower the lows, that’s never good. Make sure you still live as normal a life as you possibly can, it’ll help out a lot.

b) Zoom out: results cannot be judged daily (sometimes not even weekly). You need stable data to draw conclusions, so don’t bother having daily highs and lows, have patience and judge longer time periods. You’ll have more sound information and won’t be that stressed out.

c) Be a robot (or at least try to): being overly excited or concerned will only cloud your judgment. Instead, constantly talk to your community, track, measure, understand. What can’t be measured can never be improved upon.


To conclude, crowdfunding is an unspoken pact between creator and backers: they provide feedback, support a project knowing things can go south and agree to tag along for the – usually bumpy – ride. In return, they expect their opinions to be heard, full transparency throughout the process and hopefully a reward at the end of the line.

This was our third campaign and our biggest so far. Granted, we started out with a small one (10 times smaller, to be exact) and an inexperienced team. We had plenty of issues and delays but we were transparent about it and they were super understanding – in the end, we delivered a quality product to every single backer. We are getting better each time around and this time we garnered the support of over 3,000 backers and raised over half a million dollars. Amazing as that is, we still have loads to learn and improve upon.

At the end of the day, we love Crowdfunding because it enables us to interact with our community in a way that cannot be done outside this little world. A product born in crowdfunding will forever have bits & pieces of every backer embedded in its history. Is it stressful, emotionally tolling and sometimes utterly insane? Sure. But it’s also a thrilling, humbling and (most times) beautiful experience. We are profoundly grateful for our third time around and hopefully the next one will be even better.

Until then!

The UNIT 1 Team