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What I learned about Entrepreneurship from My First Crowdfunding Campaign

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There I was, product in hand, ready to become an overnight success.

And even if it didn’t happen overnight, which I was positive it would, I was still prepared to be a business mogul.

I was to make it big online as a first time entrepreneur.

The Kickstarter page was built, and I admired it. It was not a bad looking layout for the first go around of someone who was not very technologically advanced. Jot: a minimalist, undated, 30-day planner that takes everything into account from weekly calendars to grocery list templates. It even comes in two sizes!

I was proud. I had given the planners out to my friends who loved them and were actually using them. I took a deep breath (all the dramatics and feels) and pressed submit. I waited…for days. Because it takes a few of those for Kickstarter to review and either approve or deny your campaign. I received the approval email and it was game on! Or so I thought.

By day five of the campaign, I had raised less than $100.

I was clogging up my personal social media feeds with great content about the product. I emailed all of my influential friends about possible Corporate Packages. I even reached out to social media accounts that concentrate on promoting crowd-funding campaigns…for a fee of course. I was doing everything right. I had this great product and I could not understand why no one wanted to buy it! Then, I learned my biggest business lesson yet, and paid handsomely for it might I add. I hired a PR and Marketing firm who “specialized in crowd-funding projects”. They said all the right things, hit all the right queues, laughed when they were suppose to laugh, and raved about how awesome and in demand my product was. This was it! This was to be my big break! Epic fail. I am still waiting for the fruition of that labor. I only saw a 2% rise in page views. That was practically zero.

learned about Entrepreneurship - girl on laptop

As a last ditch effort, I turned to Facebook ad promotions.

I was skeptical. I had every reason to be. All of my efforts had proven stale. I saw some return from the targeted social media accounts, but not near what I had hoped for. I ran a few Facebook ads, and traffic started to come in. It still was not enough. I had one week left on my campaign.

I was going to fail. I was a loser.

My product was apparently crap. I mean, of course I love the product. It’s MY product. And just when I was losing all hope, I was approached by an acquaintance who offered me seed money to print my first run of planners. This was great! Someone was offering me cash to produce inventory!

Once I came off of the high of an unsolicited investor, there was a real question at hand: what good would inventory do if I had no customers. I felt as though I were back at square one. A couple of days later, as I sat pondering this question, a notification popped up on my phone. “Guest” had pledged funds to my Kickstarter. I logged into the app to see just how big of a failure I was to be and to my surprise, I had surpassed my funding goal! “Guest” had just backed me with a good amount of money! Call it fate? Call it luck? I called it a miracle! My Kickstarter had been funded and I still had my investor on the hook!

But, that lingering question was still unanswered: how do I get customers?

Over time, I figured out that, though the Facebook ads and marketing posts looked nice, they really were not doing me or my company any justice. I needed a new avenue. I needed press. I gathered contact information on all of the magazines, blogs, and websites that I could find who took on articles around my type of product. I scored a huge success with a great magazine after sending my first round of emails. I built a pretty dope website that is user friendly, and sent out several promotional packages and samples to bloggers who agreed to write a review on their site. It was all about making connections with people who would end up being great to partner with, and putting myself out there by offering journalists a look into me, my product, and my company.

I always assumed that crowd-funding was easy and that if I constructed a great product, the masses would crash my website wanting to buy it! Negative. But, the experience has been enormous and I have learned a lot of things on the front end and made mistakes early that I probably will not make again as the company grows. Pen-to-paper is reemerging as a premier analog tool. I set out with one goal: create a simple way to write things down. Jot has fulfilled that goal. If I can offer any advice, it is this: stay small until the product tells you it is time to be big. If you don’t understand what I mean by that, feel free to reach out and let’s chat!


Sham is the CEO of Ink & Paper, LLC and creator of the JOT planner and notebook. www.inkandpaperms.com
IG/FB @jotnotebook

Written by Sham Williams

Sham Williams is an active blogger and writer currently working on a finance book and the creation of a self-empowerment conference.
www.shamwilliams.com

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