Jan 5th 2015

Kickstart your PR

It would be naïve of me to infer that someone reading the blog of a technology PR agency won’t have heard of Kickstarter, so – taking it as read that you all know exactly what I’m talking about – I’ll cut to the chase.

At the time of writing (these stats change with alarming speed but you can see the latest here), there have been 10,064 technology projects launched on Kickstarter, with a 23% success rate (some 2,300 projects). If you’re looking at those that are successful and manage to raise more than $20,000, the number drops to a 7% success rate. And only 4% successfully raise more than $100,000.

So if you launch a kickstarter campaign and you set yourself a high target, say, $99,000, you probably need to have invented something unbelievably cool like a hover board, or an excellent launch comms strategy in place. Or both.

Introducing Thingsee One; The world’s first smart developer device for Internet of Things projects. Launching its Kickstarter campaign on the 10th of November and running it for 30 days, it successfully racked up $103,671 in that time. So what made this project such a success? Well for starters, the backstory is an interesting one. The company behind Thingsee, is called Haltian, who are a Finnish design start up, founded by a number of ex-Nokia employees. That in itself proved to be a useful hook for Journalists.

But what about the product itself? Well it’s a fascinating concept, and I suppose the best thing about it is that it appeals to a few different target audiences; amateur tech enthusiasts (who I imagine you’re going to find quite a few checking out Kickstarter for the latest trends in technology, and at the other end of the spectrum, product developers, who are struggling to affordably create the hardware needed to road test their concepts.

For a PR agency, what was great about working with Haltian was that the press materials available were well thought through. Hi-res imagery, videos, written materials, technical specs, readily available spokespeople to help field specific questions and put forward for interview, and a Kickstarter page fit to burst with information and updates, all of which make the job much easier.

This lead to some great coverage, not least of which being TechCrunch and Wired, which I think it’s fair to say had a big impact on this innovative product hitting its target, where so many others have failed. Yes, Haltian had to invest money up front in their product development and promotional activity and as the old adage goes, you’ve got to spend money to make money. But what makes Kickstarter so brilliant is that it’s an environment in which companies can test market demand for their concept, before committing to full scale production, packaging design etc. You mitigate the risk of sustaining insurmountable losses on a product that could never recoup the financial investment made in it in the first place.

And as Barclays’ Juliet Rogan observes in a recent article in the Standard – while discussing the bank’s loan to makers of low process self-assembly computers for children, Kano – “Through Kickstarter, Kano proved that it could deliver sales in large quantities against significant demand. This builds a track record, which is important to support the case for traditional bank lending at the next stage of the business’s growth cycle.”

So for tech firms like Haltian and Kano, Kickstarter is clearly, as the name implies, just the start of the journey. But if they get the promotion around it right, the transition from concept to reality can be a relatively swift one and a key factor in securing the kind of financing required to take the product into the mainstream.

Babel PR