For this episode of Art of the Kickstart, we talked to Adam Clark of Kicktraq, a site that offers analytics and other tools for Kickstarter project creators and backers. Tune in to learn more about how Kicktraq measures campaign metrics, and how their tools can help you make your campaign a success or find a cool new project to back.

Key Takeaways

  • How to use Kicktraq to research similar Kickstarter projects before launching your own
  • The difference between Kicktraq’s Trends and Projections, as well as how these different algorithms work
  • What funding trends Kicktraq sees across all Kickstarter campaigns
  • How Kicktraq’s Hot List compares to Kickstarter’s project-ranking system
  • What Kickstarter campaign creators can do to improve their chances of success

Links

Connect with Kicktraq

Sponsors

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Transcript

View this episode's transcript

Roy Morejon:

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 turnkey product development and crowdfunding marketing agency in the world. We have helped start ups raise over 100 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 you take your start up 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 your 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 buyers’ guide for luxury gadgets and creative gifts. Now let’s get on with the show.

Welcome to another edition of Art of the Kickstart. Today I am joined with Adam Clark, founder of Kicktraq. Adam, thank you so much for joining us.

Adam Clark:

Thanks for having me.

Roy Morejon:

All right so Kicktraq’s been around since I believe April of 2012, kind of around where we were finishing Command Partners was finishing their first rewards based crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. Give our audience a brief description or overview of Kicktraq and what the backstory is there.

Adam Clark:

So Kicktraq is an analytics tool where we monitor Kickstarter campaigns for things that are happening on their projects. So how much they’re getting per day, how many [inaudible 00:01:49] they’re getting per day, which rewards are trending, and then we also collate any news and aggregate updates for the projects kind of all in one place so you can hopefully correlate things like when specific news sources write about a project, how much impact did it have on the project, those type of things.

Roy Morejon:

So are you ever going to go into a Indiegogo integration of data?

Adam Clark:

Possibly. We’ve talked to them a little bit, although especially given my specific passions and the board games base, that’s sort of what drove the initial creation of Kicktraq. So the majority of board games run on Kickstarter so that’s kind of where our focus is right now even though the tool has kind of expanded to cover a lot of different projects, almost all of them surprisingly because all the projects are added by backers in the tool, so it’s really interesting to see how lots of folks want to use them even completely small projects are adding their own projects to Kicktraq just to kind of have them on there as another channel to get people to come in and see them. But the majority of the projects that we’re most passioned about are board games and they tend to be on Kickstarter.

It’s not about doing things with Indiegogo. We’ve talked with them a little bit. But it’s just not something that, something that we’re specifically driving towards in any sort of big way.

Roy Morejon:

Got it. So what’s your background Adam? Are you a developer by trade? How did you know you wanted to launch something like this?

Adam Clark:

It was completely accidental. I mean I am a developer, again being in Columbus, Ohio. One of the big board game conventions is here locally. It’s called Origins. And that’s sort of where my passion for board games kind of spun out from it. Always been kind of a board game guy. But getting to spend time with people that were developing board games and coming to seeing where their design of their games progressed over multiple years before Kickstarter came out, because before Kickstarter somebody could be developing a game for years and years and years or just have it on the back burner until one of the kind of big publishers kind of consumed it to get it produced. It didn’t seem like it was very viable for most folks to do any sort of independent publishing just because of the capital investment and having the game actually produced usually required other than, kind of self printing RPG’s or something.

Roy Morejon:

Got it.

Adam Clark:

So when Kickstarter came out and kind of injected all this potential into the board game industry it kind of exploded so to be in the space where you saw the transition and the opportunity for small folks to say hey I have this really quirky game and I want to find people that also want to have this game be made. But it’s just not viable even for a bigger company to do it just because of the focus might be too narrow. But there are other people that are interested too and they want to pool their money together and actually get it made. That was really interesting to see that transition for the opportunities for people to sit on a game for two, three, four, five years to hey I have an idea and then three months you put on Kickstarter and then you have a game in your hand within nine, 12 months.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely. So in talking about transitions, how has Kicktraq evolved over the years now?

Adam Clark:

It’s really been interesting.  A lot of it, again I hate to keep falling back into the kind of the board game focus, but seeing the way that people use the tool is really interesting. I mean me originally it was completely by accident just because I was sort of like a prolific backer and the table top industry is what kind of drove that initial concept of stretch goals or the gamification a little bit of the campaign. So the part of the reason why I developed Kicktraq was to try and guess what stretch goals they might hit for example. And I was doing a lot of that by hand for projects that I was backing personally and I am started writing a little bit of automation because I like to sleep. So as the small tool kind of evolves a little bit to be a little bit kind of self generating.

So the charting was all self-generating. It was all still kind of internal so I had a couple tools to let some other friends that were interested in other campaigns that I wasn’t specially interested in and also use the tool, and then I posted some of the automated charts on board game geek and some folks figured out how to add a bunch of other projects. So I went to bed, there were 20, 25 projects in the tool and I woke up and there was like 500 and then I realized oh, this is, oh this is actually a thing that people are interested in, I should probably make it not ugly, and was stayed up for three days and built the origins of Kicktraq.

Roy Morejon:

Nice, so how can Kicktraq help our crowdfunding project creators?

Adam Clark:

The biggest thing I feel that it’s most beneficial for is not necessarily like watching what’s happening on a daily basis from project creators perspective, because really at that point you’re, the balls already rolling, there’s only so much that you can do once a campaign’s actually running. The real power of Kicktraq is to do the research prior to the campaign being launched. So things that I always bring up are hey if I’m gonna make a war game, board game or something, or some kind of specific niche thing or even something that’s more general, I want to make an Iphone accessory. You can do research on those particular projects see things like what were their most popular reward levels, because it will help you find those and particular categories or tags and then also see things like how often were there updates and how much impact did that have on their slump funding in the middle of their campaign or news organizations or blogs that wrote about them and how much impact those have that gives you kind of a source to find other people that have written about similar campaigns that you can maybe target before you launch to get all that set up as part of the kind of push during your entire campaign.

Roy Morejon:

Interesting. So earlier you were mentioning some of the AI that you had built out, how accurate today are Kicktraq’s trending predictions?

Adam Clark:

A lot of people confuse the trending algorithm on the front page that most people see with some sort of predictive nature. The main trend on the core of the page that a lot of people see, they see trend and they assume that it’s a predictor and it’s not. It’s truly just a linear trend. However we have another tool that’s called our projection model which actually takes into account things like the peaks at the ends of the campaign, any sort of inactivity during the campaign and lots of other factors. We find that is actually somewhat accurate for helping predict things once you’re a few days in. It’s still a little rough in the beginning. But it’s relatively accurate once you’re within four to five days of your campaign to see what it looks like that your campaign’s going to do. And it’s great to kind of watch the cone kind of expand or collapse depending on the accuracy of it, depending on the variability of your campaign during the progression of the campaign.

Roy Morejon:

So on the projection side can you give us any insights into the algorithm or what you’re looking for specifically?

Adam Clark:

So the way that it kind of works right now is it takes a look at all the particular projects in that particular category to kind of build a model of what the average momentum per day of a particular project is and it extrapolates and an average across a specific category. So obviously if you have a particular campaign that doesn’t fit that, sometimes that doesn’t necessarily apply. But for the most part again using table top campaigns, they’re relatively consistent and if you look at the first few days the amount that they’re earning, and if no other externalities are impacting the campaign, what that looks like after you’re in the campaign for four, five days. Obviously stretch goals and things can impact that but it seems relatively accurate so far.

I mean again there’s always your outliers but we’re pretty happy with how that looks. Obviously I’m not a math guy or a high level data guy so a lot of this is us internally kind of working through things or working with other people that are a heck of a lot smarter than us. I’m just a developer that’s super passionate about helping [inaudible 00:10:41] any campaigns fund and if we can provide free tools that help people be more successful that’s what we’d like to do.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely. I mean your site right now gets over 100,000, sometimes a quarter of a million visitors a day. What are most activities that users are doing on the site? Is it just checking their stats or looking for educational resources that you’re providing?

Adam Clark:

I think from a backer perspective, one of the things that was really surprising to me ironically because I kind of built the tool as a backer, but I thought I was kind of an oddball, like I thought it was really interesting to see the progression of the campaign and seeing, oh when this stretch goal happened they got a bunch of people that added more money to their campaign which kind of snowballed the campaign even faster, right? But it turns out lots of people like watching the progression of campaigns. Even hundred fold more than the project creators. Now again I think that’s just because of the kind of ratio of backers to project owners is only one project, sometimes a small team versus multiple backers on a particular campaign and sometimes people use that to inform their decisions on whether they want to back something and be at the beginning or back at the end to see how much extra things that they might get at the end versus at the beginning and I think that’s just kind of a weird behavior of the crowdfunding model, have your people that are, don’t mind adding risk even though there is no really initial risk to backing a Kickstarter if it doesn’t fund, right?

But for some reason it’s that, win horse mentality where they only will back it once it funds. So it’s been really interesting to see how people use the tool where I thought it would seem to be more of a tool that’s geared towards the project owner and it turns out that both the project owner and backers also use it.

Roy Morejon:

Interesting. Yeah nobody wants to be the first one on the dance floor but once the party’s going everybody wants to jump in, right?

Adam Clark:

Yeah it’s, and again it’s really funny especially you know if you compare the way that other platforms work like indie gogo they have where you can pledge and whether they meet their goal or not you’re out the money. But Kickstarter there’s really no risk if you’re truly interested in hey I want this widget, if you put your money in if they get whatever their goal is they’re going to make the widget and if they don’t you’re not out anything. You’re not even out the money in the medium.

So it’s really funny that there’s this consistent activity where the first two to three days of the campaign you got a bunch of people that pile on, and then the last three, two to three days all the people that are maybe more risk averse, where they Favorited it and they want to wait to see if it actually funds and then they put their money in.

Roy Morejon:

Yeah we’ve seen a lot of activity on that 48 e-mail that goes out to remind me when the projects ending, and yes I mean a lot of people want to sit on the sideline, see if more things come to light, if they do have additional stretch goals that come out, maybe people drop out that actually backed it and they can still sneak in and get an early bird reward.

Adam Clark:

Yeah and it’s been really interesting again to kind of work with folks on the back end too with the, because of our pledge manager project where we see the actual people where they’ve come in and then dropped out and then come in and then drop back out, so it’s really interesting to see that behavior too that that’s something that we don’t have a lot of direct interaction with at least on the front end from just a high level perspective because we don’t get down to the per person basis. But how much of that probably additional stress that the project runner has to deal with where they see that influx of people and then they might post something which irritates a certain subset of people and then people drop out and then they post something and then people are happy and then a bunch of people pile back in. So it’s really interesting.

Roy Morejon:

The ebbs and flows of crowdfunding.

Adam Clark:

Absolutely.

Roy Morejon:

So let’s talk about the Kicktraq hot list. How did that come up and how can a creator get their project on there? How does that work?

Adam Clark:

So the hot list was honestly again, I hate to keep banging this drum but a lot of the tools for Kicktraq and [inaudible 00:14:58] were built because of my specific behaviors and backing projects so honestly the hot list was originally developed to help me find projects because I didn’t have time as much time as I did in the past to find projects that were really interesting. So the tool looks at behaviors of the backers that are using the site or interactions that the backers having with particular projects and applies weights and rankings to all those different behaviors and then generates, dynamically generates a list of the most popular projects for backers, or for users of Kicktraq. So it’s a great place for me, like hey what’s really interesting today, I can go there and it shows me what ones either have made a bunch of money in particular today or have the most backer interactions because of project updates or have a lot of news written about them or have a large increase or flux of backer behavior. So it for me was again, finding projects that I didn’t want to miss out on because what got me into Kickstarter was a friend of mine was like hey there’s this really cool game that I think you would like, it’s on this platform called Kickstarter and I never heard of it.

You just go and buy it because he assumed it was more like an, he expressed that it was more like an ecommerce transaction, right? And he was like hey, and then I waited a week and then I went to look it up to buy it, the project was closed. So my first experience with Kickstarter was I missed something. And so some of that still lingers in some of the functionality and behaviors of the way Kicktraq works and the hot list is a perfect example of that.

Roy Morejon:

How closely do you think your hot list and algorithm mimics the ranking of Kickstarter and how projects get ranked on their platform?

Adam Clark:

It’s completely different. The way that Kickstarter, I think that they have what they call their magic, their algorithm that does that. But I think some of that is driven by the internal kind of [inaudible 00:17:06] list of a lot of the Kickstarter favorite projects. I think that has some impact to that. I’m not sure exactly how they particularly flag the magic sorted stuff, but I find a lot of it is weighted towards a lot of the projects that they’ve specifically highlighted and I know those are done by the particular curators of a particular category so they actually have a group of people that just manage the table top folks on Kickstarter. And those are the folks that pick the favorites of the Kickstarter highlighted projects and how that influences the magic ranking I honestly don’t know.

Roy Morejon:

So what do you think a campaign creator could do to improve their chances of success during their campaign or pre campaign?

Adam Clark:

We always use the moniker of, if you want to have a successful project it’s kind of like a stadium. So before the game, before your game, you don’t want to have to find people while the game is going on. You’re too busy, things are too stressful, you’ve got lots of other things that you need to focus on. So you really need to fill that stadium before you have your big game. And that means you’ve got to do leg work up front. You cannot always fix the problem during the campaign with, and even as somebody who’s a platform who does advertising, sometimes we don’t, we tell people we don’t want them to advertise because we know that we’re not going to be able to really help them, especially from a small project perspective. And that’s probably really weird, but we would rather people be successful, cancel their project, which cancellations and relaunches are not necessarily failures, there’s tons of multi million dollar campaigns that did that exact same thing and they’re perfectly fine.

And sometimes it’s just a way that you learn and you can always roll those people into the next campaign so that’s not always a bad thing. But we always, whatever you need to do to fill that stadium and sometimes that means you need to go out and find the people that are likely to be most interested in your campaign and if that board game sometimes that means you’ve got to do the convention circuits and you’ve got to play test your game with people and you’ve got to be willing to get it out in front of people and have them tell you that your baby is ugly and grind up on social media if you want to get that following and be interactive with the people. No amount of advertising is gonna magically make people love you, because your backers are your biggest advocates, for every backer that you could get to love your project and tell other people about it, is going to be a better return 100 fold than the amount that you could dump into advertising.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely, yeah. The crowdfunding campaign is won or lost well before it ever launches, right?

Adam Clark:

Absolutely. I mean there’s always things that you could mitigate like if you’re, you’re doing pretty well and you have an established thing, or sometimes you’re just lucky and you have something that’s super quirky and it gets lots of people, lots of attention from the viral perspective but you can’t really plan for that. So to do that legwork up front again, trying to do that preliminary research where if you can get yourself or build relationships with people that might talk about you or find those kind of power backers that are super passionate about your project during your campaign and enable them, give them the ability to tell other people about you as easy as possible. Give them incentives so sometimes projects use stretch goals that impact, are impacted by social factors so how many Facebook shares they have or those type of things. So there’s lots of different ways that you can use the backers to your best benefit.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely, so what would be your number one piece of advice for someone thinking of launching a crowdfunding project?

Adam Clark:

Get it in front of people that aren’t your friends and family. That especially from a small creative perspective if you’re a company you probably know some of this but a lot of people if they’re kind of running solo gunning, they tend to kind of just show their campaigns to their friends and family and even if it’s just small things, a lot of your friends and family are not going to be completely honest with you, and it’s not their fault, it’s just the behavior that people have as a society, right? So to get as much external sometimes completely nebulous groups of people to look at your campaign and tell you what is good or bad or what might be beneficial and see if there’s some sort of trend between people because I might have an opinion on something, somebody else might have an opinion on something but if there’s some overlap that might be telling. So if we both say hey your campaign video, like I can’t, the audio’s bad or the campaign video doesn’t sell me within the first 15 to 30 seconds and I was completely bored or there’s no information on the campaign from the body perspective that’s gonna sell me on this particular game, there’s no visuals, there’s no art, there’s no things that are catchy.

Those are things that you want to fix before you launch because you can’t re-acquire people that have come to the campaign and then completely lost interest. They’re not gonna come back. So you get one shot at that, and if you can fix that up front, then you’re not going to lose those people on their first impressions in those first two to three days.

Roy Morejon:

Absolutely. Solid advise there Adam. This gets us into our launch round, where I’m gonna rapid fire question at you Adam, you good to go?

Adam Clark:

I hope so.

Roy Morejon:

All right. So what inspired you to be an entrepreneur?

Adam Clark:

Oh man. That is a … I don’t know, I like helping people. I always have.

Roy Morejon:

What’s your favorite crowdfunding project?

Adam Clark:

Zombiecide.

Roy Morejon:

If you could plan a board game with any entrepreneur throughout history who would it be

Adam Clark:

Oh wow. I would play Scythe with Elon Musk.

Roy Morejon:

What would be your first question for Elon?

Adam Clark:

Oh man. How did he do it?

Roy Morejon:

Fair enough. What book is on your nightstand?

Adam Clark:

Oh, Name of the Wind.

Roy Morejon:

Who will be the next CEO of Kickstarter?

Adam Clark:

I have no idea.

Roy Morejon:

All right last question, what does the future of crowdfunding look like?

Adam Clark:

I think we’re going to start seeing a lot of segmentation. I think you’re starting to see this with other types of areas where crowdfunding is becoming a lot more accepted so I think there’s going to be specialized places for things like I need to crowdfund a video game, I need to crowdfund a content creation where you’ve seen [inaudible 00:23:56] become insanely popular in the last few years. I think you’re going to start seeing that with kind of a large popular groups of crowdfunding or going to break off of kind of the big gorillas and become their own thing.

Roy Morejon:

Adam this has been great. Please give our audience your pitch, tell them what you’re all about, where they should go, and why they should go check out Kicktraq.

Adam Clark:

Again we all the tools that we provide on Kicktraq are free. There’s nothing that you need to do to go to do anything special, just hop on over to Kicktraq find progress along with your particular interests, do research on projects if you’re a project creator, I also have a advertising program that is available if you’d like to use it that’s a little bit unique in that if you use us for your advertising and you don’t fund we actually let you re-launch your advertising completely for free. We also have another tool called Pledge Manager that is a post-campaign fulfillment tool you can use to handle all the logistics of your campaign after the fact, so.

Roy Morejon:

Awesome, Adam thank you so much for joining us. Audience thank you again for tuning in. Make sure to visit Artofthekickstart.com for all the show notes, the full transcript and links to everything we talked about today. And also we’re working hard on to bring fresh insights and tips on crowdfunding but we need your help. We’re asking you guys to visit artofthekickstart.com/survey and take a few moments to answer three simple questions to help us improve Art of the Kickstart. We will have an awesome give away of course it will be a crowd funded product just in time for Christmas delivery so check out artofthekickstart.com/survey and of course thank you to our crowdfunding podcast sponsors, the Gadget Flow and BackerKit. Adam, thank you so much for joining us today on Art of the Kickstart.

Adam Clark:

Thank you.

Roy Morejon:

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 Artofthekickstart.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 loved this episode a lot leave us a review at artofthekickstart.com/itunes. It helps more inventors, entrepreneurs, and start ups 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.