4 Current Crowdfunding Projects with Unique Strategies

10 April 2015 | 8 Comments

In this series, I highlight some of the interesting choices current crowdfunders have made regarding their project’s reward levels, stretch goals, and overall campaign design (the projects themselves, not the content or product). This isn’t meant as an endorsement of these projects (these creators did not ask for me to promote their work–I disregard all such requests); rather, I’m looking for unique elements of projects that might inspire other creators to do the same (or do the opposite, in some cases).

1. Super Troopers 2: video series to keep updates lively, ability to pivot midstream, movie tickets

All too often I see celebrity projects that are just plain lazy in their planning and execution. Given the comical nature of the Super Troopers movie, I kind of expected the same from them, but I could not have been more wrong. This is the single-best celebrity-run campaign I’ve ever seen. Three of the reasons I say this are as follows:

  • 2015-04-10_1153They filmed a series of 20 polished, funny videos (most about a minute long) in advance of launching the project to tell an ongoing story about one of the characters being locked in the trunk of a car until the project reaches certain stretch goals. They’ve released one of these videos in each update, which is a fantastic way to keep people subscribed to their project updates.
  • They rocketed past their funding goal of $2 million, but then they slowed down at the $3 million mark even though they had stretch goals planned through $10 million. So to keep the momentum moving forward, they added a bunch of mini-goals. Really, the entire structure of their stretch goals is brilliant, and any creator could replicate it on a smaller scale.
  • One of the key reward levels is for a movie ticket for $35. Granted, it’s an expensive movie ticket, but it’s a big deal that they were even able to offer a ticket to the movie. They explained in a project update that they’re the first film project ever to offer this because they thought it was silly that backers of past movie projects weren’t able to back levels that would let them see the movie they helped create in the theater. It’s pretty awesome they went the extra mile to make this happen.

b257bd183e643cefa5f4e472d348675b_original2. The Leader’s Guide: exclusive book, backer-only community

This project caught my eye because it’s a book written by Eric Ries, the author of a pretty famous book  called The Lean Startup (I wrote about the core concept of the book, “minimum viable product,” in KS Lesson #105).

However, I wasn’t sure if it would fund. It’s a book project, which are historically tough to raise much money for, and the funding goal was a whopping $135,000.

I shouldn’t have doubted the star power of Ries, though, as the project currently has over 6,000 backers and nearly $400k raised. How did he do it, other than being a very well-known name in the business community?

I think a big part of the reason is that the book is only available on Kickstarter. Eric emphasizes this on the project page: “I made an agreement with Crown (my publisher) that it will only be offered to Kickstarter backers and only for the length of this campaign.”

Is this a compelling reason for backers to act now? Absolutely. How will Eric respond when he gets requests from people who missed the campaign 1 day after it ends? 1 week? 1 month? 1 year? I have a feeling he’ll regret the exclusivity then, but I look forward to finding out.

The other compelling aspect of the project is inclusion in a “backer-only community” Eric is forming to influence his future work. I think this is particularly powerful when people want to be associated with someone seen as important.

bf07b46c31629aaef0f0a879a151b1d7_original3. Knot Dice: it’s all about the visuals

Disclaimer: Matthew is the co-designer of a game we’re publishing, Between Two Cities, but I’m mentioning his Knot Dice project completely of my own accord.

I love it when a project page answers every question you have with visuals, especially when the project is built around a visually compelling product. That’s the case with Knot Dice, a series of games that use beautifully crafted custom dice.

As I scroll down the project page, the visuals answer all of my questions. What do the dice look like up close? What does each side of the dice look like? Are they all the same? How big are the dice? Do they stack well? And on and on. Very well done.

4. Ion: A Compound Building Game: funny project video, creating a Facebook event for launch

Disclaimer: John is a friend of mine, but I’m mentioning his Ion project completely of my own accord.

John is no stranger to Kickstarter, and it shows: Every element of the project page is pitch-perfect. It’s worth studying if you’re trying to figure out how to structure your project page. Two elements to highlight that you may not see right away are as follows:

  • The project video is really, really well done. It’s longer than my typical recommendation of 90 seconds, but the first half of the video is highly entertaining, and John gets down to business in a compelling way in the second half. The visual effects and audio are really high quality–perhaps I need to get John to film my next video!
  • Leading up to the campaign, John created a Facebook event for the project launch. Other projects have done this in the past, and I don’t think it works for everyone, but it’s a neat way to get people together in one place to talk about how they’re excited about something.




If you’ve ever backed a crowdfunding campaign and like to fill out surveys, there is a survey being run by the University of Amsterdam that you can contribute to here. It’s not long. I have no connection to the survey–I just happened to receive it as I was typing this entry.

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8 Comments on “4 Current Crowdfunding Projects with Unique Strategies

  1. I guess you could consider it a good thing because I ended up backing Ries’ book :) I was on the fence about supporting the project, and I didn’t find the publicity annoying. However, I would have probably gotten tired of the social media coverage if I didn’t want the product at all.

  2. I think that one reason that Eric Ries did amazingly well was because the backers created a ton of publicity through social media throughout the campaign. I could not use Twitter for more than a few hours without being reminded that someone had backed The Leader’s Guide.

  3. Stephen: Thanks for providing such an awesome resource, i’m finalizing a KS campaign and found your stuff awesome! I do have a question: would you advise reaching out to people and offering them a chance to view a KS campaign before its launched?

    1. Hi Christopher, is this question for me (Jamey) or for the commenter above (Stephen)? I’ll answer it just in case: Absolutely, share your preview page with as many people as possible before you launch. They’ll catch stuff you never thought to fix or clarify.

  4. Is Super Troopers 2 the film project to offer seeing the film in the theatre? I’m sure I’ve seen film (including documentary) projects that have been able to have film festival and/or premier levels before – Basically never in theatres near me so I haven’t paid attention to those, but… Is there a difference between this and that sort of levels I’ve seen on other projects?

    1. Stephen: Based on what the creators said, it’s the first film that will enter wide distribution and offer standard movie tickets as a reward. For example, the Veronica Mars project, which reached wide distribution, offered a digital download of the movie, but no standard tickets.

      1. Ah, yeah. That would explain the difference in perception – The film projects I was thinking of are all ‘straight to dvd/digital’ with a premier (often as a stretch goal) and film festival distribution.

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