How I Raised $1M on Indiegogo

65% of all crowdfunders fail to achieve their goals and only 0.2% manage to raise more than $1 million. Volterman Smart Wallet, based in Yerevan, launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo and was able to raise $1M+ in 45 days.

Want to find out how they did it?  Read More Here.  

65% of all crowdfunders fail to achieve their goals and only 0.2% manage to raise more than $1 million. Volterman Smart Wallet, based in Yerevan, launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo and was able to raise $1M+ in 45 days

So what are the 35% doing right that the vast majority aren’t? And how did Volterman Smart Wallet  fall into 0.2% that was able to raise $1M+?  The HIVE team had a chance to pick Narek Vardanyan’s brain and here’s what you need to know if you’re going to smash your crowdfunding target like a pro.

1.     Define Your Target Audience

Define your target audience according to their location, gender, age and interests. To better understand your target audience’s interests try to answer the following questions:

  • What problems or fears does your audience experience?
  • What products or services they use?
  • What emotions will they have when you solve their problems?

This will bring you a step close to the mindsets of your customers and will help you position your project from a right angle. Our research showed that the essence of Volterman was in two words: Confidence to Continue. It was the core of our marketing strategy and helped us create a right naming, branding and marketing tactics.

2.     Research and Prepare

So, you have tested your idea and want to start crowdfunding? Great! But your campaign doesn’t begin on Indiegogo, Kickstarter or any of the other platforms; it begins with market research.

Investigate campaigns similar to yours, both the successful ones and the ones that failed. To do this, you simply need to go Indiegogo or Kickstarter and search for your topic. You will see a list of projects that managed to raise money — or failed.

Based on the research, we added additional 3 features to the Volterman, which helped it stand out from the competitors.

To improve your insight into what worked for the successful campaigns (and what didn’t), reach out to the campaign authors who achieved their goals. Don’t be afraid to ask them for any industry specific insights they might have gained from their campaign.

Of those I reached out to, 70% agreed to a short, 10 minute talk on Skype. I asked them about specific actions they conducted, and got their tips and tricks for specific activities (i.e., which blogs covered them, the outlets that drove the most traffic, how they reached the bloggers and journalists, how they raised awareness).

3.     Media and Outreach

The average conversion rate in Kickstarter and Indiegogo is about 1%. Hence you need at least 100k people to visit your page to get 1,000 backers. This is very difficult to do without media support, which can drive significant amount of traffic to your campaign page. During the research stage, you should carefully study all the media that wrote about your competitors (usually campaigns put the media logos in their campaign page).

Once you have a list of journalists and bloggers who are likely to be interested in your project, then it’s time to track down their contact details. Some list them below their bylines or at the base of an article. If they don’t, you can use hunter.io, rocketreach.co, leadiq.com and other specialized tools to get their emails.

Make News

Before contacting the press, you should clearly answer the following questions:

  • What problem does your product solve?
  • Why do people use it?
  • What value does it bring to the customer?

You should answer all these questions from the point of view of the customer — not yours! Try to speak to some of your customers, to understand their motives, and write a story about your product that would appeal to them.

Wow Effect

Media is not writing about projects they are not impressed with. Knowing that, we specifically implemented a camera in the wallet, which takes a photo of a thief in the lost mode. This was designed specifically to create a Wow Effect in media. It worked perfectly, and when you search Volterman Smart Wallet, most of the results will have the headline about the camera, rather than the wallet.

4.     Create a Landing Page

Email will be your main form of communication, so you need to build an email database of subscribers. Remember, most of your results will be derived from your emails, so you need to start collecting those addresses right now.

One of the easiest ways to collect email addresses is to create a landing page — a simple page with your pitching video and photos. The purpose of this page is to explain why you are doing that campaign. At the bottom, you should offer something in return, a discount, early access, entrance into VIP groups.  Your database is your success and the bigger it is, the more chances you have.

5.     Launch Thunderclap Campaign

Use thunderclap.it to make a coordinated social media effort. It’s a tool that allows a single message to be mass-shared (flash mob-style), so it rises above the noise of your social networks. Launch a Thunderclap campaign a week in advance of your crowdfunding campaign. This will allow you to send out a social media message about your campaign on your launch day to over 100,000 people. If you can sign up enough people, Thunderclap can become a great tool to amplify your reach even further.

Summing Up

Preparation is key and 90% of your success is relying on it. The length of time you invest in preparing will depend on your funding goal, your expertise, and your network, but on average you should expect to spend 3-4 months preparing. Build relationships with various organizations that would be interested in your cause or project, communicate with the media, journalists and friends - anyone you can think of. It’s up to you to generate a buzz before you launch.

Is it only about money? Absolutely no!

Besides $1.1 mln (which is pretty cool) we got a great PR, very loyal customer base, buzz in social media, partnership offers, investment opportunities and great deals from the leading retailers in the world.

Good luck!

HIVE Invests in Inapptics

HIVE is proud to announce our recent investment in Inapptics. Inapptics was founded by Ashot Tonoyan, a serial entrepreneur who in a prior life founded SocialObjects Software that was building high profile apps and grew it to millions in revenue.

Inapptics helps app makers analyze user behavior in their apps. They saw their customers losing users and money due to not being able to understand important aspects of user behavior. Every time a user opens an app and touches the screen, valuable data about how people use the app is not accessible. By simply adding the Inapptics SDK (software development kit) and just one line of code to the app, Inapptics helps app makers collect all that data and analyze with AI in a way humans would do, as if they were standing behind the shoulders of every single user, all the time, watching their engagement with the app. Inapptics provides visual and human language conclusions, not mere metric based reports.

We are excited about our investment in Inapptics for three main reasons.

First, Inapptics is addressing a huge and growing market. There are billions of apps being downloaded every month, yet 90% of apps are used only once and eventually get deleted.

Second, although there are many mobile analytic platforms in the market today, Inapptics offers a differentiated product solution that helps answering questions like:

  • What was the user doing before deleting the app?
  • What did the user exactly do that made the app crash?
  • Is the app being used as intended during design?
  • What are the actual user journey funnels?
  • What are the UI elements the user does not notice/use?

Finally, Inapptics had been offered a term sheet by a venture fund in Portugal, contingent on the company moving to Portugal. Thanks to HIVE’s investment, Inapptics was able to keep all operations in Armenia and grow its current full time team of 4 top engineers. They are still hiring and open positions are listed here: https://staff.am/en/company/inapptics

How to get into YC

Y Combinator is one of the most prestigious accelerators in Silicon Valley.  Some of the companies to come out of YC include Airbnb, Dropbox, Stripe, Twitch, Instacart,  DoorDash and Reddit.

HIVE has had three companies accepted to Y Combinator (Collectly, Wakie and Eventgeek).  We had a chance to sit down with Levon Brutyan, founder of Collectly, and get his tips for how to get into YC.

“Getting into YC is one of the best things that could happen to a startup, for the 3 main reasons: invaluable advice and network, focus and getting rid of distractions, gaining traction (both business & fundraising).

YC is also a startup in itself, so the program is constantly evolving and getting better.  The main thing one has to remember is to “hack” your way through building a business. Hacking, defined as figuring out shortcuts and smart ways to get things done,  is one of the best skills you can learn during YC, so to get into YC you actually need to hack the process as well.

To “hack” YC, you need a lot of things but here are the top 6 essentials:

  1. Big enough problem (your market better should be > $2B)
  2. Great founders
  3. Some users (better paying if b2b) that really love you and can't live without your product
  4. erfect timing (markets they are interested in (nowadays Africa & India, besides traditional markets))
  5. Recommendations from YC alumni (good ones, because any YC alumni can give actually a bad recommendation as well)
  6. Persistence (70% of YC teams have had multiple attempts to get in to YC)

Here’s an example profile of a B2B Startup that has a higher than average chance of getting in:

  • 2-3 founders, who are either well known or are from the industry, or/and were previous YC founders, or used to work in a YC company;
  • you solve a real world problem that is painful to a particular group of people, your potential market size is > $2b, and there is a good timing;
  • You have 3-5 paying customers (cool of YC companies) that love you so much that without you the life of your users will be really awful
  • you have talked to like 2-4 YC alumni and they gave you a great recommendation
  • you have cracked the application process and interview

YC S17 Batch just finished and is accepting recommendations now.  HINT - The best way to get a recommendation is to email us at Team@HIVEfund.co (HIVE has had 4 companies go through YC).