Ryan Grepper of Portland, Oregon wanted to raise $50,000 on Kickstarter in order to manufacture the Coolest, the ultimate cooler, replete with a built-in blender, waterproof Bluetooth speaker, bottle opener and USB charger. He's already raised a cool $5 million, about 100 times his original goal, in a week. Some tech experts predict it will become the most-funded Kickstarter project ever, considering he still has nearly 50 days to go.
How did he pull off such a feat? Here are five takeaways from the Coolest’s uber-successful Kickstarter campaign.
1. Create an ultra cool product. Everybody knows the value of a sturdy cooler that keeps beverages frosty, and coolers in general evoke fond memories of barbecues, tailgating and summertime. Often the most successful Kickstarter campaigns are those that create an emotional appeal with backers and solve a common dilemma—like not being able to crush ice for margaritas while picnicking. The Coolest isn’t just a regular old cooler: It comes with extra features like a blender and music that make it extra cool.
2. Find a memorable name. When it comes to cool product names, it’s hard to beat “the Coolest.” But certainly a catchy name can help create buzz for a campaign. (Other very successful Kickstarter projects have included the smartwatch Pebble and Remee, a “lucid dreaming” eye mask.
3. If you don’t succeed the first time, try again. This was actually Grepper’s second attempt at raising money on Kickstarter. He failed to reach his original $125,000 goal in his first campaign—raising just over $102,000—meaning his project wasn’t funded. (His first mistake: He launched his first campaign in the middle of winter, when most people were thinking about fireplaces, not coolers.) But that failure allowed him to design a much stronger campaign the second time around.
4. Offer the right incentives to backers. Anybody who’s donated through Kickstarter knows that a big part of the fun is what you get in return for your donation. Entrepreneurs trying to raise money for their projects, therefore, need to be extra mindful about finding neat ways to give back to backers. Giving even small donors something can help. With the Coolest, for instance, $5 backers get their name written on Grepper’s personal Coolest while $25 backers receive a reusable hard-plastic “party cup.” (Donate $2,000? Grepper flies to your hometown and bartends a party for you and your friends.)
5. Create buzz beyond Kickstarter. Grepper started a Facebook page for the Coolest to build awareness of his Kickstarter campaign, and has already gathered more than 37,000 “likes.” He hosted a Facebook contest to choose two cooler colors ("Sangria" or "Blue Curacao," anyone?) beyond his original orange cooler.
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