Locked

I own a small, independent outdoor gear shop that launched its first in-house built product via a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. Introducing the Basecamp Journal! Ask me anything!

Jimmy Funkhouser
Oct 10, 2017

In this AMA we will discuss the following:

  • The process of launching our first proprietary product as a retailer that typically sells products created by other brands.
  • Our history, and how this informed our decision to use crowdfunding rather than traditional methods of funding.
  • The challenges and opportunities associated with our crowdfunding campaign.
  • Things we've learned, and things that we would have done differently.
  • Anything else you want to ask!

Comments are locked

Conversation (61)

In three easy steps and under a minute you could be hosting your own AMA. Join our passionate community of AMA hosts and schedule your own AMA today.

Let's get started!

It's basically a notebook?

Oct 11, 2:59PM EDT0

How much have you crowdfunded to date?

Oct 11, 2:57PM EDT0

Really enjoyed reading about your brand! I thought you might like to check out another awesome CrowdfundingAMA campaign - Enjoy :) 

Oct 10, 7:12PM EDT0

Where did the idea for the Basecamp Journal come from?

Oct 10, 5:55PM EDT0

Have you tried any other types of fundraising or marketing campaigns?

Oct 10, 5:32PM EDT0

Have you run any other crowdfunding campaigns?

Oct 10, 5:29PM EDT0

What would you have done differently if you could?

Oct 10, 2:38PM EDT0

We would have started the promotional activity earlier. We didn't really announce the existence of our product until we were launching our campaign. That was a HUGE mistake. It takes time to rally interest, particularly from bloggers and journalists. To have a massively successful campaign, you need third party help to drive traffic to your campaign. Unless you are already a large pre-existing company, you're not going to be able to drive enough interest to your campaign by yourself. Journalists usually have deadlines weeks or months in advance. If you wait until you launch to engage them, even if they want to write about your idea they won't have time before the campaign is over.

Oct 10, 4:25PM EDT0

Can you please explain more about your product?

Oct 10, 1:21PM EDT0

What exactly makes the Basecamp Journal different from a regular notepad from Walmart?

Oct 10, 1:08PM EDT0

Thank you for asking this question. The Basecamp Journal is designed with outdoor adventure in mind. There is a section of inspiration prompts/checklists, that is built to inspre you towards visiting aspirational places and trying new activities. There is also a section that offers packing lists for specific outdoor activities. 

Once you've found your spot, and starting planning your trip with the packing lists, the journaling section is designed with specific prompts to help you capture the journey in your own unique way. The paper is functional for journaling, sketching, writing, mapping and or painting. 

From a production perspective, everything is 100% American-made, and about 95% Colorado-made. The only item being completed in another state is the binding, which is being completed in Arizona.

The leather cover is 100% handmade locally by one of our Feral ambassadors Josh Hughes.

Lots of little unique touches, and produced in the most environmentally-friendly and locally sourced way possible.

Oct 10, 3:18PM EDT0

What will the crowdfunded capital be used for?

Oct 10, 1:04PM EDT0

100% of crowdfuned capital is being used to produce and market the journal.

Oct 10, 3:18PM EDT0

Should I get a specialist to help make a campaign a success or can I do it myself even without experience?

Oct 10, 12:42PM EDT0

When you launch a crowdfunding campaign, you will get messages from a billion companies that specialize in producing, marketing and promotion these campaigns. The first problem is that by the time you've launched, the campaign is largely baked. It's too late. If you're not comfortable with the design and promotion of your campaign a 3rd party partner might not be the worst idea, but they're not a magic bullet. The product has to be able to stand on its own. If you do decide to engage assistance, do it as early as possible to maximize their capacity to give you the best bang for your buck.

Oct 10, 3:21PM EDT0

Will any of the proceeds from the adventure journal be used to fund an adventure motorcycle?

Oct 10, 12:12PM EDT0

Ha! Oh man. I wish. At this point we're just hoping to get the funding to launch to product. Any additional proceeds would be used for post-campaign marketing to scale the journal to additional retailers. 

Oct 10, 12:18PM EDT0

Did it happen that at some point you felt like its not gonna work and you should drop the idea maybe?

Oct 10, 11:41AM EDT0

There was never a point that despair took hold. But there were several times where it hit us just how much work this project was going to be.

We've maintained our commitment because we love the product and we love the concept. It's consistent with our company mission to "create adventure", and that's a really big deal to us as well.

Oct 10, 12:06PM EDT0

Is there an upfront fee in addition to the success fee on funds raised?

Oct 8, 7:47AM EDT0

There is not an upfront fee to launch an Indiegogo campaign (other than the costs associated with building your campaign and product), only the percentage cut that they take on total sales. It is really important to factor that % into your total goal. 

Oct 10, 11:28AM EDT0

Are there any drawbacks on using crowdfunding platforms?

Oct 8, 6:04AM EDT0

1. IT IS A LOT OF WORK. To do it right, you're going to invest a lot of time.

2. The fees are not small. At 5% + credit card fees, you are sharing a lot of your hard-earned contribution funds with Indiegogo.

3. Most campaigns fail. It is just reality. You need a very strong strategy for making sure that doesn't happen, but also a strategy for keeping your dream alive if you fail to meet your goal.

Oct 10, 11:39AM EDT0

Is it a good idea to include a video?

Oct 7, 11:34PM EDT0

Not mandatory, but very close. There is a huge difference in the success rate of campaigns that have videos vs. ones that don't. And it's fun!

Oct 10, 11:39AM EDT0

How long do you think I should run a campaign?

Oct 7, 7:11PM EDT0

Most campaigns start our very strong, and then fizzle in the middle only to have a big lift at the end. I like 30 days because it narrows the length of the mid-campaign doldrums. Every product is unique though. If you don't already have a community in place to support your launch, you might need time to build that and a longer campaign might make more sense.

Oct 10, 11:41AM EDT0

Do I have to be a legal entity to post and raise funds?

Oct 7, 6:46PM EDT0

That would likely be a question for your attorney. One of the biggest mistakes people make with crowdfunding is forgetting that the funds raised counts as income. Make sure you account for that from an accounting and tax perspective.

Oct 10, 11:41AM EDT0

Can I crowdfund if I want to keep my not-yet-patented product/invention confidential?

Oct 7, 1:09PM EDT0

That would likely be a question for an attorney. Crowdfunding is definitely the antithesis of "confidential". To fund a successful campaign, you need everyone in the world to know everything about your product. This could probably create complications in the event that your intellectual property is not appropriately protected.

Oct 10, 11:43AM EDT0

Can you give me reasons as to why you choose crowdfunding to launch your product?

Oct 7, 12:57PM EDT0

1. Market validation - crowdfunding is a great way to prove that your idea doesn't suck.

2. Feedback - This has been huge for us. Let your community HELP you build your product. You'll be amazed at some of the great ideas that float to the top when you bring everyone under the tent.

3. Exposure - It's hard to get exposure for any good idea. Crowdfunding is a great excuse to talk about your product/idea and garner support for the launch.

4. Funding - This is the obvious one. If you lack the capital to breath life into the idea, crowdfunding is a great source. There are obstacles, but if your idea has legs, crowdfunding could be the best way to turn it into a reality. 

Oct 10, 11:46AM EDT0

How much information should I share on a crowdfunder and how important is it?

Oct 7, 10:18AM EDT0

EVERYTHING. Be transparent. Share the journey. Be authentic. If there is any ambiguity or confusion about your product or strategy, people will hestiate to support your journey. Also, keep in mind that your supporters are also potential future supporters. You want them to feel good about their contribution from start to finish, because they might be first in line when you have your next big idea.

Oct 10, 11:47AM EDT0

Should I have a back-up plan just in case the crowdfunding campaign fails?

Oct 7, 9:06AM EDT0

DEFINITELY. Most crowdfunding campaigns fail. Just the facts. But that doesn't necessarily mean your idea has to die there. 

Oct 10, 11:48AM EDT0

Does it cost anything to start a crowdfunding campaign?

Oct 7, 7:46AM EDT0

No upfront fees/costs, just the % cut that Indiegogo or Kickstarter takes at the conclusion of your campaign.

Oct 10, 11:48AM EDT0

Is crowdfunding just about money or are there other benefits?

Oct 7, 6:53AM EDT0

1. Market validation - crowdfunding is a great way to prove that your idea doesn't suck.

2. Feedback - This has been huge for us. Let your community HELP you build your product. You'll be amazed at some of the great ideas that float to the top when you bring everyone under the tent.

3. Exposure - It's hard to get exposure for any good idea. Crowdfunding is a great excuse to talk about your product/idea and garner support for the launch.

4. It makes your product better. You're not just crowd-sourcing the funding part, you're crowdsourcing the entire process. If you're open to the universe taking your product in the direction that it should go, the process can be very illuminating. 

Oct 10, 11:50AM EDT0

If someone has a mediocre video or a really bad one do you think that could have a negative impact on the crowdfunding campaign?

Oct 7, 5:44AM EDT0

The video matters, but I think people over-emphasize quality. I think authenticity is more important. Sometimes the quirky low budget videos are the most endearing ones.

Oct 10, 11:51AM EDT0

What advice would you give to anyone else looking to create their first crowdfunding project?

Oct 7, 5:31AM EDT0

1. Start building community now. If you wait until the project launches, YOU ARE TOO LATE. 

2. Build media contacts months before your launch. Most media outlets build content months in advance. If your campaign is only 30 days long, you won't have time to deploy coverage during that period.

3. Tell your story. Be authentic. Everyone hates sterile, cookie cutter campaigns. Do something different. 

4. Do your research on campaign strategy. There are a million resources out there. Study the successful campaigns. What did they do that worked?

Oct 10, 11:53AM EDT0

What do you feel the biggest benefits of Crowdfunding are?

Oct 7, 2:48AM EDT0

(copied and pasted from a few similar questions)

1. Market validation - crowdfunding is a great way to prove that your idea doesn't suck.

2. Feedback - This has been huge for us. Let your community HELP you build your product. You'll be amazed at some of the great ideas that float to the top when you bring everyone under the tent.

3. Exposure - It's hard to get exposure for any good idea. Crowdfunding is a great excuse to talk about your product/idea and garner support for the launch.

4. It makes your product better. You're not just crowd-sourcing the funding part, you're crowdsourcing the entire process. If you're open to the universe taking your product in the direction that it should go, the process can be very illuminating. 

Oct 10, 11:54AM EDT0

How can a first time campaigner choose between Kickstarter and IndieGoGo for raising money?

Oct 7, 2:24AM EDT0

Kickstarter is king as far as audience goes. Their reach is massive. Both platforms are very similar, but it's hard to ignore how big Kickstarter is. However, you can get lost in that crowd. If your product isn't VERY unique, you'll get lost in the noise.

We decided to go with Indiegogo because of the flexible funding option. You can still execute your project and receive fundings if you fall short of your goal. But if the viability of your project rests on hitting that goal, a flexible option doesn't make sense for you.

Kickstarter also has more brand awareness. Not as many people are as familar with Indiegogo. We find ourselves telling people... "It's just like Kickstarter..."

Oct 10, 11:57AM EDT0

What important lesson have you learnt from using crowdfunding so far?

Oct 6, 6:18PM EDT0

START EARLY. It is never too soon to start getting the word out about your project. If it is only a 30 day campaign, you should start getting the word out at least a couple months prior to launch.

Don't over-estimate your ability to rely on a pre-existing community. We have an amazing community behind us. But it takes a village to make a campaign successful, and that village definitely needs to include people outside of your immediate community. 

Oct 10, 11:59AM EDT0

Are projects screened before they are posted and how are they screened?

Oct 6, 5:46PM EDT0

Indiegogo does no screening. Once you complete all the requirements for the launch, you are live the moment you hit the launch button.

Oct 6, 7:01PM EDT0

Can you give some advice to people interested in launching their own crowdfunding campaigns?

Oct 6, 4:58PM EDT0

Just a few thoughts...

1. It's still all about the product. The marketing aspect has taken a lot of work, but we did a lot of "proof of concept" work prior to launching. 

2. Build your audience BEFORE you launch. We are lucky in the sense that we have a pre-existing community, but we could have done a lot more to build audience for this specific product prior to launching.

3. Your audience isn't enough. We had 15k Instagram followers, an email list with 3,000 customers, and nearly 5,000 Facebook followers before we even launched.  That's probably not going to be enough for us to blow past our goal. We need the help of other influencers, media, bloggers etc... Have a great strategy for engaging these people BEFORE you launch. If you realize mid-campaign that you need them, it is probably too late.

Oct 6, 7:00PM EDT0

How much research do you do in selecting the best crowdfunding platform for you product?

Oct 6, 4:03PM EDT0

We did a lot of research, and there are a lot of factors that went into the decision. Obviously Kickstarter is king as far as audience goes. Costs are virtually the same, the platforms are very similar, but Kickstarter has a much bigger audience. The defining difference between the two for us was the fact that Indiegogo does not require that you hit a firm goal to get funding.  As a current business and retailer, we are moving forward with the project on some level whether we hit the goal or not, so the funding flexibility of Indiegogo was very appealing to us. The goal is EXTREMELY important to us, but falling just short wouldn't necessarily prevent us from executing the project. If that's the case for you, I'd consider Indiegogo. Otherwise, it's really hard to ignore the audience that Kickstarter has.

Last edited @ Oct 6, 7:02PM EDT.
Oct 6, 6:56PM EDT0

Can you share a link to your facebook, twitter, website please?

Oct 6, 3:33PM EDT0

What was the biggest hurdle you encountered creating your own product?

Oct 6, 2:42PM EDT0

Probably the biggest hurdle was finding a way to affordably procure all of the constituent parts necessary to manufacture the product without sacrificing quality or integrity. This takes time. We wanted a 100% American made product, and it is no secret that is getting more and more difficult to accomplish. Fortunately we were able to find partners here in the state of Colorado to produce every aspect of the project. The book binding is the only exception as it is being completed in Arizona.  My advice is try to source every component of the project directly if possible, and get a dozen quotes for everything. Do all of the homework yourself. Once you've done that, go with your gut.

Oct 6, 3:23PM EDT0

Link to the campaign: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-basecamp-journal-travel/x/17410301

Oct 6, 12:58PM EDT0
About #CrowdfundingAMA

Welcome to #CrowdfundingAMA, an AMA Event channel all about Crowdfunding.

The #CrowdfundingAMA channel (http://www.CrowdfundingAMA.com) is owned and operated by AMAfeed, LLC.