This week on Art of the Kickstart, we interviewed Mary Lowe Bailey of BackerKit. Tune into this episode to learn more about how to keep momentum up after a crowdfunding campaign ends and why frequent, transparent communication with your backers post-campaign is crucial.

Key Crowdfunding Takeaways

  • What BackerKit can do to help project creators after their campaign ends
  • How to keep a campaign going after your Kickstarter or Indiegogo project ends
  • How to streamline your data as you work toward fulfilling Kickstarter or Indiegogo orders
  • How to handle backers’ inquiries after your crowdfunding campaign ends
  • Why it’s important to be transparent about shipping to your backers
  • Why communicating with your backers frequently is critical

Links

Connect with BackerKit

Sponsors

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. 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:

Welcome to Art of the Kickstart, your source for crowdfunding campaign success. I’m your host, Roy Morejon, president of Enventys Partners, the top full service, turn key product development and crowdfunding marketing agency in the world. We have helped startups raise over $100 million 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 you take your startup to the next level with crowdfunding.

Art of the Kickstart is honored to be sponsored by BackerKit and the Gadget Flow. BackerKit makes software that crowdfunding project creators use to survey backers, organize data, and manage orders for fulfillment by automating their operations and helping you print and ship faster. The Gadget Flow is a product discovery platform that helps you discover, save, and buy awesome products. It is the ultimate buyer’s guide for luxury gadgets and creative gifts. Let’s get on with the show.

Welcome to another addition of Art of the Kickstart. Today I am honored to be joined by Mary Lowe with BackerKit. Mary Lowe, thank you so much for being on the podcast today.

Mary Lowe:

Yeah, thanks for having me, Roy.

Roy:

So you are part of the creator outreach team dealing with all of these thousands and thousands of creators that are putting together crowdfunding campaigns, Kickstarters, Indiegogos. You’ve worked with thousands of makers and creators across all these different industries to help bring these projects to life. So if you would, give our audience a little bit of your background, and then a brief description of BackerKit as well.

Mary Lowe:

So basically I work for BackerKit, which is built on the backbone of Kickstarter and Indiegogo. We work with projects that have successfully funded. Basically where we step in is post campaign once they’ve received their funds. They have this really enthusiastic community of backers that want these products and in the process a lot of things come up like people move or people change addresses, they get new credit cards, stuff like that. We basically handle all of that type of stuff and fulfillment details, but it’s like really interesting, so each project we work with has an extremely unique timeline, and I guess delivery in terms of … They have all very unique timelines for delivering their products, so it’s kind of crazy, and our software is very unique and customizable to each project, so every project we work with has a very different process of working with us, which is very cool, and we do a lot of different things depending on the project, which is crazy.

Roy:

Absolutely. I know BackerKit in its early years with Max and Rosanna in terms of the platform itself, can you talk a little bit about how BackerKit has evolved over the years to help spurn on creativity and communication efforts for campaigns that are finishing up?

Mary Lowe:

Yeah. I’ve actually been asking this to a lot of my coworkers recently because we’ve been around for about three years, and we have gone through a ton of changes. I mean our team has expanded. When I started, we were at 17 people, and now we’re at around 40, which is just insane. When I’ve asked people this question, they’ve all told me make creativity happen and make things happen. I think that our software has just gotten … We’re built on the backbone of creators having issues and wanting solutions. Every bit of our software is built with the mindset that we’re going to be helping people do more things and do them faster, so each thing that we built has really been, had the creators in mind, which is really cool. We don’t build anything that’s frivolous. It’s all 100% useful, and we build it fast, too, which is really cool.

Since I’ve started here, we’ve had six new features roll out, and it’s been really really cool to be able to talk about them.

Roy:

What would be the top three things that BackerKit can do to help project creators?

Mary Lowe:

Round about generally speaking, it saves a creator time, so they can keep creating. That’s generally what I like to talk about, but also we help creators raise more funds. We’ve developed this term called add-ons. Basically it’s when your campaign has ended, and your backers are asking for more of the product, but when your campaign ends on Kickstarter, there’s no longer the option for your backers to be getting more things, so [inaudible 00:04:45] has been built so when your backers are going through it, they can actually add more products to their survey, which is really really cool.

I like to say that your campaign lives beyond the Kickstarter, which is extremely important to me, the idea that you can keep doing things, and you’re still producing things is super important. All in all, just saves you time. That’s just the best.

Roy:

Absolutely. We all need a little bit more time left in our life, and of course all these project creators need it as well because they’re dealing with the flurry of questions and everything that’s coming in. How do you guys compete then in terms of comparing let’s say when a Kickstarter campaign goes over to Indiegogo and goes in demand rather than goes to BackerKit and launches there and allows backers to then do these add-ons or upsales if you will?

Mary Lowe:

Yeah, very complicated question. I think one of the coolest parts about BackerKit is it gives you a bird’s eye view of where everything’s going, who’s backing it, stuff like that. The more complex what you’re sending out is, the more important we are because we organize your data. If you have an expensive product, you don’t want it to get lost in the mail, and we make sure it doesn’t. Also, we give you very complex data that you can, I guess for your next campaign, you can think smarter about what type of things you’re selling, where they’re going. If you’re shipping, you can figure out your shipping logistics, but I guess Indiegogo doesn’t have a [inaudible 00:06:18] surveying functionality, so we give you that. If you’re giving away shirts, you need to collect backer sizes, color options, stuff like that. We actually give you a space to do that.

We also, I mean, if you’re talking about Indiegogo [inaudible 00:06:34], we also have another part of our software is we give project creators the option to have a pre-order store, so this is just a store hosted on our website, where they can sell more of their products. So if they choose not to go to in demand, they can sell more of their products on our website. I think a lot of creators are comforted in that because again, we’re dealing with logistics, so that’s just another time saver.

Roy:

Absolutely. Plus they don’t have to set up an eCommerce store and understand all the payment processing issues that they may run into. You guys have streamlined that entire process post crowdfunding, which is awesome to see.

Mary Lowe:

Yeah. Also another thing I like to say is we give the option to have a PayPal link, which is really awesome because a lot of people don’t have Stripe, so you can get any country no matter where it is in the world, they can still be getting your product. I think that that’s super important. It’s more inclusive, and I think that’s great.

Roy:

So talk to me, we talked about the project creators, but on the back end, the flip side, is the project backers. How does BackerKit really help the project backers with the campaign once it concludes?

Mary Lowe:

We’ve been around for a while, so we’ve built up good street cred, so one thing we do is we just comfort them, but they have good logistics on their end, so that’s one thing. Another thing that we do that I think is extremely unique, is there’s actually backer support here, so we have a support team, a full in house support team that actually handles all your backers’ inquiries. I think that a big thing that creators forget is that after the campaign that all of these people are going to have demands and questions, and they’re going to want answers really really fast. If you don’t give them those answers, they’re going to get a little frustrated.

We have a team that really steps in and answers all those questions, but also in the process of setting up a project with us, you’re actually paired with a success manager. That’s the terminology being used here. This is someone that holds your hand through the setup of surveying and all that fun stuff. If that’s done correctly, you find that your backers have less questions. So post campaign, support wise, I find that your backers are going to be a lot happier.

All that, I keep on saying, fun stuff. It is fun if you do it correctly.

Roy:

Absolutely. Yeah. Take the headache out of the way.

Mary Lowe:

Exactly.

Roy:

Obviously, we’ve been dealing with thousands of campaigns over the last six or seven years now. We’ve both felt similar pain points for our clients.

Mary Lowe:

Yeah.

Roy:

Let’s talk about the creators and when they should begin engaging BackerKit. When is it best for them to sign up or at least have a conversation? Is it well before they launch, after they’re done funding, in the middle of their campaign? When do you guys seek out these potential customers for your platform, and when is it best for them to reach out to you?

Mary Lowe:

The first thing I’ll say is that our door is always open, and my door is always open. It doesn’t matter where you’re at in your campaign. I still want to listen to you. Even if you don’t want to use our software, I still want to hear why and understand the pain points you had during your campaign. I think one of the strengths or what I learned to be very helpful in my job here is I always stress the idea of timelines and understanding each creator’s timelines because they’re all extremely unique. I think each different creator probably has a different, needs to engage with us at a different time. I hate to say that, but it’s kind of what it is. A lot of times I have campaigns reach out to me pre-campaign, and they want to understand, because I think that we can give them an introduction to the process of Kickstarter because if you’re new to it, it’s very scary, and we work with so many people that I find that that’s really great.

But in general, we actually work with campaigns that are funded. Typically that’s when we get most of our projects reaching out are when they’ve hit their milestone. Sometimes that’s the first day of the campaign. Sometimes that’s 30 days down the line. Sometimes I get a project that reaches out to me about a year after they funded, and they’re actually fulfilling their product, because sometimes the product, whatever they’re creating goes into production. That happens in a lot of video games or just a product that’s being prototyped, so they don’t actually need us right away. They need us two years down the line.

So I would just say, I guess it really depends on the person, but we’re always here to listen, and we’re accommodating to anybody’s circumstances.

Roy:

Absolutely. So even on the logistics side, I know shipping costs and logistics there can certainly be complicated for many first time crowdfunding creators and even experienced startups. What would be your best tip, and how do you guys help with the shipping side of things for project creators?

Mary Lowe:

Yeah. Again, we’ve helped thousands of projects ship, each with different ideas in mind, but a general rule of thumb with shipping and also just with projects and a mindset is just to be really transparent with your backers. This means if you are planning on charging shipping after the campaign, you tell your backers that because they’re not going to be happy to get requests, someone to say we need 20 extra bucks to ship your product to this area. That’s definitely one thing I would say.

Beyond that, we have a really cool USPS discounted postage, which PCs based in the US take advantage of. This is typically for a smaller project that wants to ship themselves. We offer discounted postage there, and also we are able to group together where all of your products are going, or your game pieces, whatever it may be, so that makes that a lot easier, so again, you know where it’s important when you’re dealing with thousands of backers that you understand where everything’s going because if it gets lost, not only do you lose money, but you have unhappy backers that are really eager to get their products. That’s one thing.

We also have integrations with fulfillment centers, so if you’re planning on using a fulfillment center, we actually have integrations there, so you can directly push all of your backers’ information through our software to them. Project creators that don’t use us kind of will get stuck in a limbo of Excel spreadsheet land, where they’re constantly updating backers’ information into a spreadsheet that the fulfillment center asks for, and it’s super specific, and it’s really hard to do. We basically do that for you. When you’re looking at 100 to 5,000 people, it becomes really important to have a system doing that for you because it saves you time. Also it’s really difficult. I can’t imagine doing it myself. I always talk about that as something really exciting and important.

Roy:

Absolutely. Yeah it can be overwhelming with the entrepreneurs and startups that we’ve worked with over the years that there’s a lot of pain points and understanding because this is their first time going into this, and there’s so many different pieces that need to connect in order to do not only just the manufacturing and the fulfillment correctly, but all of the other things that come into actually starting their business for the first time.

Mary Lowe:

For sure.

Roy:

BackerKit has always been a key point that we always recommend for our clients.

Mary Lowe:

Yeah. Every day I learn something new here, but I think here’s randomly, shipping to Australia is really difficult because of the postal codes, and even just having someone here that ships something to Australia, I think that peace of mind carries you a long way, so you have our experience on your backs, too, which is awesome, but I definitely agree with you there.

Roy:

Absolutely. What would be your number one piece of advice for someone thinking about launching a crowdfunding project?

Mary Lowe:

Doing it. I think that a lot of people have ideas, but the first step is to actually do it and not be embarrassed by your first version of it. I’m a full believer in a very simplistic campaign, your first time around, so yeah. A simple campaign, very simple pledge levels, making sure you’re very transparent about what they’re getting, what’s in each package, when you’re going to be shipping, that timeline. If you have funded, and you’re going to be delivering whatever you’re going to be delivering, and something happens along the way, like say a freight train drops five boxes of something, and that means you can’t actually deliver all those things to your backers, just telling your backers that, giving them that peace of mind, I get very nervous when I don’t see updates. I love it when creators are always posting updates, even if they’re silly, and they’re like hey, here’s a picture of us as a team, I think that’s a lot.

Just communication because the community that you will build with your campaign is just unbelievable, and you’ve got to keep that going.

Roy:

Absolutely. All right, Mary Lowe, this gets us into our launch round where I’m going to rapid fire a handful of questions at you. Are you good to go?

Mary Lowe:

Sure.

Roy:

All right. What inspired you to work with entrepreneurs?

Mary Lowe:

I love creativity.

Roy:

What is your favorite crowdfunding project of all time?

Mary Lowe:

Deep Madness by Dimension Games.

Roy:

If you could have a glass of wine with any entrepreneur throughout history, who would it be?

Mary Lowe:

Oh uh-oh. Maybe Adam Poots.

Roy:

Interesting. What would be your first question?

Mary Lowe:

How was the weather today?

Roy:

Fair enough. Who did you look up to when you were growing up?

Mary Lowe:

I loved Celine Dion.

Roy:

Any book you would recommend to your audience?

Mary Lowe:

I would read anything and everything.

Roy:

Last question. What does the future of crowdfunding look like?

Mary Lowe:

I think it’s more inclusive. It’s already inclusive, but I think it’s going to spread to more areas of the world, and I think it’s going to be more generally accepted as a really exciting thing. That’s my hope for it.

Roy:

Absolutely. Mine as well. Mary Lowe, this has been awesome. Please give our audience the pitch about BackerKit. Tell them where they should go and why they should go use their service.

Mary Lowe:

Yes, so simplistic. The easiest thing you could do is just go to our website, www.backerkit.com, which I’m sure there will be a link in this podcast, but if you have any questions, I’d say email me. My email is greetings@backerkit.com. That’s G-R-E-E-T-I-N-G-S@backerkit.com. Any types of question, if you’re thinking about launching a campaign, or you already launched a campaign or you just want to talk to me about what I’ve said, I’m always ears, and I’d love to communicate with you.

But really, if you want to keep creating, come to us, because we’ll make creativity happen. I think that’s the coolest part about BackerKit.

Roy:

I agree. Well, Mary Lowe, you’ve been awesome. Audience, thanks again for tuning in. Make sure to visit artkick.wpengine.com for all the show notes, a full transcript, links to everything we talked about today, and of course, thank you to our crowdfunding podcast sponsors BackerKit and the Gadget Flow. Mary Lowe, thank you so much for being on the podcast today.

Mary Lowe:

Thank you so much, Roy. It was a pleasure.

Roy:

Thanks for tuning in to another episode of Art of the Kickstart, the show about building a business, world, and life with crowdfunding. If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, awesome. Make sure to visit artkick.wpengine.com and tell us all about it. There you’ll find additional information about past episodes, our Kickstarter guide to crushing it, and of course if you love this episode a lot, leave us a review at artkick.wpengine.com/itunes. It helps more inventors, entrepreneurs and startups find this show and helps us get better guests to help you build a better business.

If you need more hands on crowdfunding strategy advice, please feel free to request a quote on enventyspartners.com. Thanks again for tuning in, and we’ll see you again next week.