This week on Art of the Kickstart, we spoke with Ariel Hyatt, author of the book Crowdstart: The Ultimate Guide to a Powerful and Profitable Crowdfunding Campaign. Tune in to learn more about how to launch a product through crowdfunding, how to build up your crowd, how to get PR coverage and much more.

Key Takeaways

  • How powerful crowdfunding can be for artists and musicians
  • How crowdfunding can help you understand your community
  • What kinds of hurdles to expect during a crowdfunding campaign
  • How much energy and effort you’ll need to put into your campaign
  • Where to begin if you want to crowdfund your idea
  • How to make your crowdfunding campaign newsworthy

Links

Connect with Ariel Hyatt

Sponsors

FIN 2000X2000Art of the Kickstart is honored to be sponsored by The Gadget Flow, a product discovery platform that helps you discover, save, and buy awesome products. The Gadget Flow is the ultimate buyer’s guide for cool luxury gadgets and creative gifts. Click here to learn more and list your product – use coupon code ATOKK16 for 25% off!

backerkitArt of the Kickstart is honored to be sponsored by BackerKit. BackerKit makes software that crowdfunding project creators use to survey backers, organize data, raise additional funds with add-ons and manage orders for fulfillment, saving creators hundreds of hours. To learn more and get started, click here.

Transcript

View this episode's transcript

Roy Morejon:

This episode of Art of the Kickstart is sponsored by BackerKit. BackerKit makes software that crowdfunding project creators use to survey backers, organize data, and manage orders for fulfillment by automating your operations and helping you print and ship faster. Plus, if you want to create and send surveys, offer add-ons, and pledge upgrades or begin accepting pre-orders, BackerKit makes it simple. Over 2,000 projects and 4 million backers have used BackerKit, including many of the projects featured on Art of the Kickstart. Ready to try BackerKit? Visit BackerKit.com and sign up today.

Welcome to Art of the Kickstart, your source for crowdfunding campaign success. I’m your host, Roy Morejon, President of Command Partners, the top full-service crowdfunding marketing agency in the world. We have helped raise over 70 million dollars for our clients since 2010. Each week, I’ll interview a crowdfunding success story, an inspirational entrepreneur, or a business expert in order to help take your startup to the next level with crowdfunding. Art of the Kickstart is honored to be sponsored by The Gadget Flow, a product discovery platform that helps you discover, save, and buy awesome products. The Gadget Flow is the ultimate buyer’s guide for cool luxury gadgets and creative gifts. To learn more, visit TheGadgetFlow.com. Let’s get on with the show.

Welcome to another edition of Art of the Kickstart. Today, I’m joined by Ariel Hyatt with Crowdstart. Ariel, thank you so much for joining us.

Ariel Hyatt:

The pleasure is mine. Thanks for having me.

Roy Morejon:

Ariel, you are a seasoned veteran, if we will, on the marketing side and potentially on the crowdfunding side, after 20 years of leading a successful business in the hardest industry in Earth. You’ve learned valuable lessons on what it takes to build a sustainable business. Let our crowd know all about what Crowdstart is and yourself.

Ariel Hyatt:

Crowdstart is my newest book, and it is subtitled The Ultimate Guide to a Powerful and Profitable Crowdfunding Campaign. It comes from the crowdfunding campaign that I did, it was about two years ago now, and the experience I had from coaching many, many of my clients through their own crowdfunding experiences. I realized that there was a lot of fabulous information in the marketplace, great blog posts, lots of statistics, and some very helpful and knowledgeable articles, but what I didn’t find was a step-by-step guide on how to do an effective crowdfunding campaign from soup to nuts, so that’s what I created with Crowdstart.

Roy Morejon:

Certainly crowdfunding being still in its infancy with I think less than 12 million people backing a Kickstarter campaign, obviously the book hadn’t been written yet, so hence, Crowdstart I assume. What else is the back story for people in terms of when you wrote this book? This isn’t your first book, correct?

Ariel Hyatt:

No. This is my fourth book.

Roy Morejon:

Seasoned.

Ariel Hyatt:

My other books are written specifically for artists and musicians and people in the music industry, and they’re all social media and marketing books. That’s the work of my agency, and it’s no secret that crowdfunding and musicians have a very long history. I was exposed to crowdfunding just through my day in day out work from a pretty early … We are still in our infancy, but I started seeing crowdfunding campaigns many, many years ago. That’s how this whole thing started, and this is why I got really interested in writing a guide.

Roy Morejon:

What gets you excited about crowdfunding in the industry as it is currently?

Ariel Hyatt:

I could speak from personal experience that my crowdfunding campaign, which yielded $62,000, was a life changer for me. I’d been a successful entrepreneur and I bootstrapped a lot of projects and bootstrapped pretty much everything I’d ever done. When I did my crowdfunding campaign, I realized how powerful it is to have extra money. For the first time in my life, I had real money that I could invest back into making Crowdstart look as good as it does, into courses that I wanted to create, digital online learning courses, into re-branding my company. I used the money for myriad things, and it was so powerful.

I really see what the artists that I coach and I’ve also coached a few business people through crowdfunding campaigns that there’s just so much power, not only in getting the money and having the money to do something. It’s in proof of concept, which I know you’re an expert in. It’s also in understanding that you’re much, much bigger than you thought in your community, and that’s the halo effect of any type of crowdfunding campaign. It’s identifying not only the people that you are pretty sure would donate, maybe friends and family and colleagues and your favorite clients, but really who else you touch every day that you don’t even realize you touch just through whatever it is you’re doing, and that’s the halo effect.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely. It’s amazing how global crowdfunding is now with it being I think in [inaudible 00:05:34]. At a conference I recently spoke at, I mentioned that they’ve had backers come from over 170 different countries now, backed a project, and then those that have launched a project, I think it’s close to 140 different countries. As you said, it’s amazing the phenomenon of crowdfunding. It’s not just product, obviously. I know you mentioned that you’ve been consulting and obviously worked on your own campaigns. What questions do you find that creators are most typically asking you?

Ariel Hyatt:

Oh boy. I think a big one is how do I know how much money I can ask for. I think there’s a huge difference between wanting 10,000 or 20,000 or $50,000 and actually being able to generate that from your community. As we all now, crowdfunding is involved. That’s a big one that I see. I think another one is the question that they don’t even really know to ask, which is just how involved is this? We see so many campaigns that don’t make their goals and don’t even come close to making their goals because I think the media gives us a little bit of a false sense of what a crowdfunding campaign is.

Of course, we see the huge successful ones, like your Coolest Coolers or your Amanda Palmers or your Pebble Watches or the large projects that we see getting millions of dollars and lots of publicity, but the truth is crowdfunding is hard. It takes effort and planning and timing and strategy. I think a lot of people just think, “Oh, if I just post a few things on Facebook and tweet and send out an email, I’m going to get my goal,” which is not the case.

Roy Morejon:

Indeed. Unfortunately, a lot of, like the example you bring up of the Coolest Cooler, which seems to be the case study for everything, a lot of inventors and entrepreneurs, what they don’t know is that he failed the first time and there was a whole process behind that. He’s still failing to deliver, not properly putting together his products correctly and pricing things out. There’s certainly a ton of hurdles that are out there. What were some of the hurdles or biggest surprises that you encountered during your first crowdfunding campaign?

Ariel Hyatt:

I think the biggest hurdle was after the initial rush of money that came in, that deafening silence that happens where you feel like you’ve tweeted and Facebooked and emailed and personally asked people, and the money just doesn’t come in in the way that I think you would expect it to, and so that is a huge hurdle. It’s just staying positive and believing that, “Okay, I’ve got 30 days, and just because I’m not getting a donation on day 17, 18, it doesn’t mean that it’s not going to happen. It just means that you need to keep working your plan.”

I think the other hurdle, and this is just a hurdle of being human, is if you have a 30-day campaign or even a longer one, which I see all the time, things can happen in your life. You could get sick. Your child could get sick. You could have an emergency with one of your parents as I did. My mother, literally 10 days before my crowdfunding campaign ended, had a stroke and was in the hospital, and I was sitting in a hospital room with eight days left on a nail-biting campaign that was nowhere near funded or even close, and I just thought, “Wow, like, I might not be able to give my family the love and attention that they need and get this thing over the finish line.” There’s just being human that comes up.

That’s another thing. It does take a lot of effort and energy, and you might not have it for all 30 days.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely. We find a lot at our agency with the companies that we help out with or just the individuals is that many of these people are simply creators and tinkerers and makers and not necessarily business people or entrepreneurs at the end of the day who can potentially run the call or run the campaign, run the business, and get everything set up. There’s certainly a different type of entrepreneurial spirit that’s necessary obviously with running a campaign because it’s a full-time job from months before you begin and then months, if not years, after to make sure that you deliver a project and product that you promised.

Ariel Hyatt:

Exactly.

Roy Morejon:

Where do you usually tell people to start who want to crowdfund their idea?

Ariel Hyatt:

The first part of my book actually is where everyone should start is do you have your arms around your crowd? How many people are on your mailing list? How many people are in your inbox that should be on your mailing list? How many people are your VIPs? Could you guarantee that if you launched a campaign you can name by naming your five or six biggest, most powerful supporters who might actually have some money to give you? How is your Facebook game? Do you actually know how to boost posts? Do you understand how to use advertising because you’re going to need it? If you just post native on Facebook, as we know, people won’t see stuff. Do you understand who’s following you on what platform? How do you get their attention?

No crowd, no crowdfunding. That’s the beginning of my book. It’s figuring out where are all these people and how do you put them all in at least a digestible format so that you can hit them all during your campaign effectively.

Roy Morejon:

You talk about getting attention. I know a lot of creators struggle with getting attention from the media even, not only their mom or dad or their Facebook feed in terms of promoting their project. You being a PR pro, as well, what tips do you have for some of our audience in terms of getting attention and getting covered?

Ariel Hyatt:

I talk about this a lot in the book because I do have a publicity background. I think we think our projects are really, really important and really, really interesting and are media worthy, but the truth is there’s so many crowdfunding campaigns. Just flick through Kickstarter on any day, and you will see thousands of ideas. You have to ask yourself, “What here is newsworthy?” For most mainstream media, unless it’s something so sensational, and I show a lot of case studies in the book about some of the crowdfunding campaigns that have received tremendous amounts of publicity, and I say exactly why they got that. There was either a celebrity there or a fantastical story or something that just took off like wildfire. That’s what gets news.

However, you can spin your own publicity wheel during your campaign, but I recommend you do it in your industry on blogs or on podcasts. Go small. Don’t worry about is the Wall Street Journal going to cover you or is Fortune Magazine, or some huge idea that you wish you were an entrepreneur, but they’re probably not going to cover you until after the campaign is over and you’ve done something super newsworthy.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely. What would be your number one piece of advice for someone looking to crowdfund their project?

Ariel Hyatt:

Get a team. That is it.

Roy Morejon:

I know. It’s a full-time gig. I agree.

Ariel Hyatt:

I think also when you do this, it’s a little bit exposing. You’re asking everyone in the world it feels like for money, and that’s not something most of us are comfortable with, even on our best days. If you have a team, if you have someone who can help you, someone who understands the strategy behind how all this stuff works or even not, just a friend who’s willing to do some of the heavy lifting, it’s going to make it so much easier.

Roy Morejon:

I agree. That’s why our agency exists, right?

Ariel Hyatt:

Exactly.

Roy Morejon:

Who do you think crowdfunding is overall meant for? Do you think there’s anyone out there that you would say it’s not for?

Ariel Hyatt:

I think the only stopping block for crowdfunding campaign is really not having a crowd because if you don’t have enough people to ask, it’s not going to work, but I think we’ve now seen that crowdfunding is for everyone. We have seen so many different interesting ideas and concepts and things that are super esoteric and have very narrow fan bases do just fine. We’ve seen obviously interesting commercial things do really, really well. I really believe that crowdfunding is for everyone, but the first step again is having that crowd.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely. This gets us into our launch round where I rapid fire a few questions at you, Ariel. Are you good to go?

Ariel Hyatt:

I’m taking a deep breath.

Roy Morejon:

All right. What inspired you to be an author, let’s say, entrepreneur?

Ariel Hyatt:

I wanted to help people.

Roy Morejon:

If you could meet any entrepreneur throughout history, who would it be?

Ariel Hyatt:

Tony Robbins.

Roy Morejon:

Interesting. What would be your first question for Tony?

Ariel Hyatt:

Where do you get all this energy?

Roy Morejon:

Fair enough. All right. Outside of your own book, what book would you recommend or books would you recommend for our listeners?

Ariel Hyatt:

One of my favorite books that I’ve ever read is Cal Newport’s So Good They Can’t Ignore You.

Roy Morejon:

I haven’t read that one yet. We’ll make sure to include that. Where do you see yourself in five years

Ariel Hyatt:

Still serving independent communities of interesting clients. I’ve been in the music business for a long time. I’m beginning now to transform my business to help female entrepreneurs. That’s my true passion. I’d say I’m going to be with the ladies.

Roy Morejon:

Fair enough. Last question. What is the big thing you want to accomplish in your life?

Ariel Hyatt:

On my death bed, I want to look back and remember that I made a difference, I had a lot of joy, I had a lot of fun, and I did it with extraordinary people.

Roy Morejon:

Awesome. Ariel, this has been great. Please give our audience your pitch. Tell our audience what you’re all about, where people should go, and why they should go buy Crowdstart.

Ariel Hyatt:

You should buy Crowdstart if you feel like you need some help with your crowdfunding campaign. It’s $14.99. It’s on Amazon. You can find it there. If you want a free chapter, you want to read a little bit more about me and what I do, you can visit ArielHyatt.com and CyberPR.com.

Roy Morejon:

Ariel, this has been awesome. Thank you, everyone, again for tuning in. Make sure to visit ArtoftheKickstart.com for all of the show notes, a full transcript, links to Ariel’s book and everything that we talked about, plus links to BackerKit and the coupon code for The Gadget Flow. Ariel, thank you so much for joining us today.

Ariel Hyatt:

Thank you.

Roy Morejon:

Thanks for tuning into another episode of Art of the Kickstart, the show about building a better business, world, and life with crowdfunding. If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, be sure to visit ArtoftheKickstart.com and tell us about it. There, you’ll find additional information about past episodes and our Kickstarter Guide to Crushing It. If you loved this episode, leave us a review at ArtoftheKickstart.com/iTunes. It helps more inventors and entrepreneurs find the show and helps us get better guests on here to help build your business. If you need a more hands on crowdfunding strategy, please feel free to request a quote on CommandPartners.com. Thanks again for tuning in. We’ll see you soon.