Kickstarter Postmortem: Redefine Success

Over the course of February, I ran my fifth, creative crowdfunding campaign, this time for Happy Hour!, a sequencing card game based on the concept of bartending and making mixed drinks. The drinking game was created in partnership with Walker Cahall, a graphic artist out of Portland, Oregon, but more importantly, a longtime friend. Our goal for the campaign, only lasting 28 days, was to raise $6000 dollars. The campaign ended up raising a total of $6117, or 102% of our goal. While this looks to be a successful campaign, there was much to learn.

This is a public postmortem in hopes that others may learn from our mistakes.

Where We Excelled:

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Artwork. Walker Cahall (Waltronic) is an absolute professional, and the best thing we did for our campaign was to showcase Walker’s artwork in it’s many forms. We had a handful of Recipe cards and a few more Ingredient cards ready by the launch, but one of the best parts of our campaign came when Walker volunteered to make these tiny animations to support the campaign.

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These animations were immensely popular with our followers and on social media. When we shared these images and animations with the proper tagged (i.e. #whiskey), we started to gather the attention of distilleries and alcohol brands. Although these “likes” and “follows” would prove to be of little benefit to the Kickstarter campaign, but we do believe the future of the Happy Hour! card game lies in creating partnerships with a handful of these brands. (More on this later!)

Facebook Marketing. We decided that based on the crisp, graphic design of the game, and Walker’s amazing animations, we would run some “experiments” in targeted Facebook and Instagram advertising. We boosted posts and created campaigns. We spent approximately $75 on Facebook advertising with an average CPC of around $0.57/click.

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Not without surprise, we did run into some issues when it came to marketing the game on Facebook. First, there are regulations on the amount of text that can be in a featured image or video. A lot of the animations indicated what percentage of our goal we had achieved (25%, 50%, and cheers!) and some other cute animations, but ultimately, we were only able to run a few of them as campaigns, and a few were hobbled from the beginning.

Advertising Alcohol to Minors? Another interesting issue we ran into was the concept of the card game in relation to it’s content of alcohol. Alcohol is the theme of the game and consuming alcohol is not a requirement to play (although optional and *highly recommended*). Our goal is not to promote binge drinking, but rather, educate players on a dozen mixed drink recipes they may not have known before. One of our prime demographics for this game would be college kids, but many of those college kids are under the age of 21. There are laws that prohibit advertising alcohol to minors, but that’s now what we’re doing, we’re promoting a card game!

Is it okay for college freshmen (soon to be drinking age) to play a game that teaches them the proper portions for cocktails? 

Play Testing. We play tested this game in excess of 25 times with friends, family, strangers, and while live streaming from various drinking establishments. We had a review sheet that we asked everyone to fill out after playing, asking them to elaborate on their favorite parts of the game and the areas that need improvement.

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Thanks to these play tests, I can tell you that Happy Hour! is (without a doubt) 25x more fun now than it was when we first created the game. The more we play tested, the better the game became. While this is outwardly a good thing, it may have also been a major hinderance to our success. (More on this later, as well.)

Where We Underperformed:

We knew we were being aggressive in launching the campaign when we did. We knew that our game would be educational and beautiful, but we wanted to put the concept out into the world to see how many would be interested in getting a card game about bartending. We were hoping the Kickstarter would be both a proof-of-concept and a digital storefront all wrapped into one… because that’s the ideal outcome for a game like this.

Kickstarter Page at Launch. We looked at a handful of Kickstarter Pages of successful games similar to ours, specifically card games. (In retrospective, this part of the research may have been too thin.) There is a massive market for games on Kickstarter (over 500 live projects and millions of dollars raised). We did our best to structure the Kickstarter in a similar manner to how their pages were organized, hoping to emulate their success.

There were a few areas in particular where we fell short,

Gameplay. A majority of the successful games on Kickstarter not only have elaborate gameplay instructions and supporting images, but they also have a video of someone demonstrating the different methods of gameplay. We originally started with an infographic, but we took it down once we had changed the gameplay beyond similarity.

With Happy Hour!, we were still working out the best method of gameplay. We knew the “bartending theme” was sound and the concept of assembling ingredients was a fantastic base for a competitive card game, we just wanted to make sure that the gameplay was the perfect balance of entertainment and educational (how many recipe cards are on the counter? how many ingredients are in the bar? should we take more than one? can you play a drink a shot on the same turn? how many alcohols are required to use the “make it a double” card?), so rather than locking in on one method of gameplay, we intentionally left it vague. Ultimately, the lack of specificity in how the game is played most likely played a major role in our lackluster performance.

Rewards. An effective use of your reward tiers can help alleviate a lot of the stresses and the simple math of getting your campaign funded. I’ve experimented with these in differing degrees in my previous campaigns and Happy Hour! was no exception.

We started with just three tiers: Early Bird ($25), Happy Hour! ($30), and the Poster Pack ($65). Each one of these categories included shipping, but on face value, they seem really high, especially for a game that consists of just cards. If I could go back, I would include shipping additional, and drop all the prices by $5. $20 feels like a deal, and $25 feels like the right price for Kickstarting a game.

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We were just hoping to sell the game and maybe make a little money on top with the posters, but ultimately, we didn’t sell out of either the Early Bird or the Posters level, so we added another tier above and below. For $5, you can get some drink coasters with Happy Hour! artwork on it (may be CNC’d or printed on thick card stock), and for $125, you could become an Official Sponsor of Happy Hour! These two categories generated nearly 20% of our total revenue.

Also, in an interesting turn of events, we had three backers pull back their funding, a first in any of my campaigns. One was a backer that publicly supported the campaign, posted a highly critical note for improvement, and when I messaged him thanking him for the support but asked him to send that kind of message to me privately, he withdrew his pledge (than backed us for $1 to post that he was “withdrew his pledge” on our wall, then cancelled the $1 pledge, then claimed he still supported us). The other two, completely unknown to either myself or Walker, withdrew their pledges after the game was successfully funded. Walker thinks they are just trolls.

Email Marketing. As I’d written about in January, I used a freelancer from India for lead generation in more than a dozen categories of businesses we felt would be interested in our game, now or later. I downloaded the Google Streak extension and proceeded to draft and execute scheduled mail merge emails to each of the different categories. While it was exciting to have over 1300 seemingly relevant contacts, I ran into a number of issues, including…

Dead Email Addresses. Of the 1200 email contacts I was given, nearly 200 of them were dead or discontinued. I would also say that another 200 were sent to a mailbox that was not once checked. I mentioned this to Shah, so he sent me an additional 150 email addresses, which also contained some dead emails.

Miscommunication. Going through the email contacts, it became apparent to me that the language I used in my request was not as specific as it could have been for my freelancer in India to translate and execute on. In retrospect, I should have asked a little bit of his methodology in collecting the information: if he has a “bot” that scours web addresses for email addresses based on a series of keywords, I would know that I need to give 12 very specific keywords, but if he had a program that he wrote himself, perhaps he could choose better than me?

This inadvertently manifested itself in soliciting my drinking game to the president of a dry fraternity, reaching out to breweries and wineries (which aren’t in the game), and contacting a bunch of tabletop game conventions on the East Coast which I’d never heard of and have no desire to attend. It did generate some leads, but overall, it was probably not a super effective use of my time and $60.

Personal Contacts. We wrote emails to our friends, families, and mailing lists about the game and showed them some of the artwork. Ultimately, I don’t think we had enough in place on January 31st when everybody saw the page to excite them enough to donate. A good percentage of the early backers were Walker’s personal contacts, while my base was much slower to come around to donate. Perhaps I’ve overstayed my welcome.

Redefine Success:

Shifting Perspective. While the game did have a ton of traction, Walker and I had a very serious conversations about the campaign and playing out the scenario of failure. We had a lot of people, over 100, who believed in us enough to put their money on the line to help us make Happy Hour! come to life, how would they feel if we let the campaign fail?

As I mentioned earlier, our ultimate goal was to have Kickstarter serve not only as the proof-of-concept (“This is a good idea!”) and a marketplace (“I’ll buy that!”). Accordingly, the $6000 we were seeking to raise was in part so that we could afford to purchase the game in bulk and create a huge inventory of the game to sell ourselves. Those that missed the campaign could purchase it directly from us, and they’d receive it like everyone else. We’d also try to put these games into stores and retailers.

Unfortunately, the game proved to be a good concept, but as it was currently advertised on Kickstarter page, there was not a heavy demand for it. Thus, we sought additional financial support to ensure we met the goal. Even more unfortunately, this meant we had to completely rebudget based on our new financial obligations. While it does slightly hinder our ability to deliver the game we wanted in quantity, it was a necessary step required to succeed and we’re thankful for every penny we received from all of our backers.

A Quick Note About Chemicals. If you are considering a crowdsourcing campaign, be prepared for your body to go through a serious chemical rollercoasters throughout the course of the campaign. All Kickstarter creators should have the Kickstarter application on their phone throughout the course of the campaign. It’s your finger on the pulse.

The downside (if you allow it to be) is enabling “Push Notifications” when your campaign receives a new pledge. So not only do you have the endorphin kick of the push notification, but your phone is interrupting you to tell you that you just made money. This will start to creep into other corners of your life, including 3 AM wake ups and while you’re in the bathroom (obviously).  If your campaign is struggling, the kick is even more powerful. You’ll tap your phone in desperate hope of receiving a pledge you didn’t know about. How about now? Anything? Please beware.

(You can turn off the push notifications but I recommend it at the beginning of the campaign to get a gauge on how the campaign will likely run.)

Now What?

The Real Beta Test Begins. We play tested the game over 25 times, but it was often while Walker or I was present to answer any questions, concede to new suggestions, and make small rule changes (once a “douche card” was suggested to increase volatility between players), and more! Now, we’re creating Happy Hour! to be put out in the world to our family of backers for their turn to beta test the game.

With our backers’ feedback, we’ll be able to refine Happy Hour! one more time before we attempt to launch it into the commercial realm. Rather than flat out failing, we made the investment into our game, and our community, to expand the beta testing process beyond the borders of Portland, Oregon into your living room, bar, or around your campfire.

One Last “THANK YOU”:

Thank You! We couldn’t have done it with the support of our friends, family, and the Mystery Tin community. From everyone at Mystery Tin Games and Waltronic, thank you for backing our game and we can’t wait for you to help us make it something really special

Cheers!

 

Happy Hour! Card Game Now on Kickstarter!

Happy Hour!the first bartending card game, is now available on Kickstarter. It’s the latest game I’ve been working on with my good friend, graphic artist Walker Cahall. We’re really proud of it and we’d love it if you checked it out on Kickstarter, but first…

Dinner’s Ready, the first game I created on Kickstarter back in October of 2015 was really a proof of concept for a style of gaming I call “competitive learning.” You’re playing a card game, focused on the competition and gameplay, but the more you play, the more you subconsciously learn about a particular topic. With Dinner’s Ready!, we wanted to teach people about healthy eating and whole ingredients. With Happy Hour!, our aim is to get people familiar with the world of mixed drinks and to start learning cocktail recipes.

tumblr_okv3mm2v4e1rt7qgbo1_500Bars pride themselves on having fully stocked bars and the ability to make “any drink you want.” The problem is, with the limitless possibilities behind the bar, we’re overwhelmed so we inevitably defer to our “go-to drink,” a simple, unimaginative, cocktail. It inevitably involves three ingredients, one of which is ice. If we knew more about mixed drinks and cocktails, maybe our palette would expand also!

Happy Hour! was born!

From the beginning, we set out to make Happy Hour! both fun but also somehow an educational experience. We bounced around between different formats of gameplay, styles and designs, and base rules in order to best deliver the information we want to get across. In doing so, we made some tough decisions. We decided to omit the facts on the ingredient cards. We chose to ignore the “preparation method” of each cocktail for the sake of clarity and ease of play. We increased and decreased the size of the bar and the number of orders waiting at the counter. But after every play test, it would always loop back to that feeling: we were onto something special.

happy-hour-handHappy Hour! is the FIRST competitive bartending game that’s not only fun to play, but also teaches you an array of actual mixed drinks! Soon enough, you’ll be a master bartender!

Imagine this… it’s a Friday night and you’ve got three friends in town. In anticipation of your friends arrival, you’ve stocked up on some booze. Around 5 o’clock, commonly known as “happy hour,” you bust out the Happy Hour! card game and set up the bar and counter.

Now it’s time to choose an alcohol: whiskey, vodka, tequila or gin. For the rest of the evening, when any drink is played that contains your alcohol, you’ve gotta whatever drink you happen to be consuming. (Extra points if you pair your alcohol to your side drink.) When a player collects 21 points, everybody else has to finish their drink. Sounds pretty good, right? (You can obviously play the game without this optional drinking rule, but… why?)

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Whiskey Sour!

The games typically last 7-15 minutes for 2 people and around 30 minutes for 4 people. That means you can get two rounds in, and (maybe a little north of) two drinks. Not only does that get your evening started for a night on the town, you also have a head start on ideas for drinks later on in the evening!

The Kickstarter page is now up and the campaign will run until February 28, 2017. You can still get the game at the “Early Bird Special” price of $25 (including shipping), otherwise the game is $30 (including shipping). Join the Happy Hour! community by backing the game, following us on social media, and sharing our project with your friends!

At the time of posting, we’re currently at $1263 or 21% of our overall goal!

Thanks again for your support, and I look forward to sharing a drink with you all in Happy Hour!

CHE

Did you like this post? Check out some of our other popular Mystery Tin posts!
The Wisdom of Shark Tank 
is a mega-post of the insight I gained by watching every episode of the investment show Shark Tank
Starting A Monthly Newsletter is a look at the inner workings of my new Mystery Tin Monthly e-mail newsletter. (You can sign up here!)
How to Run a Successful Crowdsourcing Campaign is a fantastic overview of the nuts and bolts in running a crowdsourcing campaign.

Hiring My First Freelancer

In preparation for my upcoming crowdsourcing campaign in February, I decided to get started early on the market research and lead generation I’ll need to run a PR and marketing campaign.

Happy Hour! is a competitive drinking card game, challenging players to collect ingredients to deliver drinks like a real bartender! Not only is Happy Hour! fun to play, but players are also subliminally learning facts about their favorite alcohols and drink recipes.

In order for Happy Hour! to have a wildly successful campaign, we would need to market the game (and it’s future possibilities) to the alcohol, nightlife, and cocktail cultures. I knew the areas that I wanted to focus on, but I honestly didn’t have the first idea on where to start. For Dinner’s Ready!I sought out celebrity chefs to endorse the game. This project was going to be a much bigger project that quite frankly, I wasn’t interested in doing.

I decided to outsource the project to a virtual assistant. I figured somebody else out there has had a similar need to acquire contact information, so chances are there is a freelancer that runs a “bot” that scours the internet to return a spreadsheet containing rows and rows of contact information. However the information is collected, I’m sure it was going to be happen faster than I could do it.

Here’s my original job posting on Upwork:

I’m looking for someone to help me build a database of alcohol-related contacts for marketing an upcoming crowdsourcing campaign.

I’m looking for you to fill out a spreadsheet containing the following data:
First Name, Last Name, E-mail Address, Company, Phone Number, Note

Ideally you would locate approximately 100 contacts for each of the following categories (roughly 750-1000 contacts):
– Bartending Schools (online and offline)
– Bar and Restaurant Chains (North America)
– Tabletop Game Stores (North America)
– Alcohol Brands (International)
– Distilleries (International)
– Fraternities (North America)
– Adult Gaming Communities (online and offline)
– Relevant Newspaper Contacts (online and offline)
– Drinking and Liquor Blogs
– Tabletop Game Blogs
– Famous Bartenders (if there is such a thing?)

If doing this kind of research sounds interesting and fun to you, please Submit an Application! Also please include the recipe of your favorite mixed drink. If you omit this, I will not consider your application.

The response I received to the ad was not what I had imagined, but it was definitely what I needed. I received a message from Shah, from Bangladesh, India. He cut right through to the core of my job, and he didn’t waste time with my challenges. Maybe he didn’t read the whole post? Maybe he doesn’t know the word cocktail? Maybe Shah doesn’t drink?

Nevertheless, this is the response I received:

Hi, I can do the task.You can trust me in your project.I see all of your requirements and ready to star now. Please reply me and give me the opportunity. Thanks. Shah.

Looking over his freelancing resume, I had to trust him. His portfolio was extensive in just one area: scouring the internet for e-mail addresses. Despite the secrecy around Shah’s favorite cocktail, everything seemed good enough for me so I reached back out and we started working out the kinks, mostly negotiating the price per 100 rows of contact information. Ultimately we decided on 1200 rows of contacts.

Hi, Sir Here is first 100 rows. Kindly See my attach and check this. I start first Country – USA. keyword Bar and Restaurant Chains. Please replay me. Thanks,shah

His grasp on the English language is starting to wear thin, but that’s not what I hired him. I hired him to track down info, and here he was delivering the first 100 rows, less than 24 hours after we started the project. As I went through the information, I noticed he had collected contact information for dozens of restaurant chains in Montana. While that information may one day be important, in pitching a cocktail-related drinking game, restaurants are probably at the bottom of the list. Shah and I recalibrate on goals, and locations, then I sent him back to check in at 250 rows.

Sure enough, 12 hours later, Shah sent me the first 250 rows. Everything looked great so I sent him off to collect the remaining 950 contacts as I tucked into bed, Shah just returning from his lunch break in Bangladesh.

As I thought about it more, there’s no way that Shah can be doing all of this research by hand. He’s got to have a bot or something scouring and collecting data. If that’s true, then he should be able to turn this thing around in a few days. Since it’s my first time hiring a freelancer, I decided to reach out to Shah to see how long it would take to get the full 1200 addresses.

Yes Sir Thanks for replay. I will complete it within 2/3 days. Or ASAP. Thanks- Shah

My man, Shah!

On Friday, I got this e-mail:

Hi, Sir, Here is Completed Task.. Kindly see and check my attach. Here is 9 tabs, Total 850 Rows. Previous 350 rows. Total 1200 Rows Completed. Rate $5 + $1 Upwork Fee. per 100 Rows. So, Total, 12* ($5*$1)= $72 USD. You Already paid $30.00 . Thanks-Shah

I checked into the spreadsheet and I was happy to see that he had collected a majority of the data I was looking for, but there was one caveat: the bars listed in the spreadsheet were all from Charlotte, North Carolina, rather than Portland, Oregon. So I reached back out to Shah, asking if there was any chance he was able to collect the 100 bar contacts in Portland.

After a little negotiation…

Ok I will Add new Row for that.

I woke up this morning and pulled up my e-mail, and sure enough, there was Shah!

Here is new Sheet. Kindly see and check this. 

He provided one last spreadsheet with 99 bar contacts for Portland, Oregon (and one from New South Wales, Australia, which makes me sure he’s using a bot.) But that was absolutely great, and I couldn’t have been happier with the results of my first attempt at outsourcing.

All in all, this entire data collection project cost me a little over $70, including fees, and saved me hours upon hours of my own time. Collecting this amount of information would have most likely taken me a full 40-hour week, but working with Shah, the project breaks down to roughly $0.05 per contact. Not a bad deal!

Did you like this post? Check out some of our other popular Mystery Tin posts!
The Wisdom of Shark Tank 
is a mega-post of the insight I gained by watching every episode of the investment show Shark Tank
Starting A Monthly Newsletter is a look at the inner workings of my new Mystery Tin Monthly e-mail newsletter. (You can sign up here!)
Personal Fire Ecology is a quick look at the rationale behind my yearly purge by fire.
How to Run a Successful Crowdsourcing Campaign is a fantastic overview of the nuts and bolts in running a crowdsourcing campaign.

How to Run a Successful Crowdsourcing Campaign

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If you want to be successful in crowdfunding, you’re going to need to put in the work before, during, and after the campaign. This post contains knowledge I learned firsthand from running my own campaigns, contributing to the successful campaigns of others, and information I’ve learned from my entrepreneurship classes on crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding not only gives you the opportunity to market a product, but it gives you an opportunity to create “fans” that may support your future work as well. Smaller, more artistic ideas, are great for crowdfunding platforms because it gives them access to funds that may be out of reach in other, traditional financing venues. Launching a successful crowdfunding campaign provides social proof and feedback that your idea has the potential for longevity. Remember, (for the most part) crowdsourcing success happens by small margins and failure by large margins.

It was just over a year ago that we launched the Dinner’s Ready! crowdsourcing campaign on Kickstarter. Our dream was to creative a fun, competitive card game that promoted healthy eating by encouraging players to draw healthy recipes and collected the necessary ingredients to make them. We set our goal of $4,000 and set the clock at 23 days, ending at  the midnight before my 30th birthday. Ultimately, we raised $4,699, or 116% of our initial goal. This wasn’t an Exploding Kittens experience, but it was incredibly eye opening to the trials and tribulations of crowdfunding in the 21st century.

To let the cat out of the bag a little bit, Mystery Tin Games is in the development stages of more card games to be launched early next year on Kickstarter, so we’re going to use the example of a “card game” throughout this discussion, but these techniques can be applied to any crowdfunding campaign.

The Idea

Crowdfunding has given creators the opportunity to create anything they can imagine and see if people are interested in it. If you want to make a card game, you need to identify early on if there’s a certain subsection of people that would want to play it. With Dinner’s Ready!, a healthy eating card game, which we ultimately narrowed down to “millennial table-top game players that are also parents of kids ages 6-10.” Maybe you’re making a card game that would appeal to LARPers. Maybe you’re making a card game for pregnant mothers. Locate the crowd your solution benefits and go after them.

What problem is your product solving? Who is the “crowd” you’re really trying to win over? What is the best method of reaching them? What other games or product does this group support? Why?

Once you’ve got your idea and the target crowd in mind, it’s time to get down to development. Kickstarter allows people to launch a campaign for a product that hasn’t come to life yet, or serve as the marketplace for a product that is almost finished. Depending on the idea you’re attempting to bring to life, it is important to consider the initial expenses required for development.

In creating a card game, for example, there are a number of development expenses. If you’re a graphic artist, the opportunity cost of your time is something to keep in mind. If you’re not a graphic artist, you’ll need to figure out who to hire and how much to pay them. (My recommendation is to operate on a set price for the art design based on achieving 100% of crowdfunding goal. If it’s a blowout hit, you can always renegotiate later.) And after the card game has been designed, test decks need to be printed and shipped from the manufacturers.

What other costs does your project involve? Is there anyway to minimize (or table) those costs before starting the campaign?

The Campaign

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I hope you’re ready to do the work. Studies have shown the most successful crowdsourcing campaigns required (on average) 30 hours per week for the 4-6 weeks prior to the campaign, 30 hours a week during the campaign, and 30 hours a week through fulfillment. If that seems like a lot of time, it is, but it’ll make all the difference in the world.

Pay attention. Make sure you double- and triple-check everything on your campaign page. Research shows that a single spelling error on your campaign page can result in 13% less funding.

Timeframe. The length of your campaign is important. Research shows that donations are the highest during the first week and the last week. If your campaign is too short, people are going to miss out on the opportunity and it may hurt your chances of reaching your goal. If it’s too long, people will delay in backing you, which could result in people “forgetting” to back your project. I’ve had campaigns as short as 21 days and as long as 40 days.

How long should your campaign be? Are there any specific benefits to running a longer campaign? A shorter one?

The Goal. Don’t be greedy. Since Kickstarter is an “all-or-nothing” platform, you don’t want to exaggerate the cost of your project. In fact, you should work through the bare minimum costs associated with your project far in advance and set the lowest number as your goal. Take advantage of bulk-manufacturing and crunch the numbers.

What is the bare minimum cost you’ll need to produce your product? Don’t forget to include shipping costs! 

The Video. While there’s no denying the correlation between beautifully shot, high-definition videos and successful campaigns, you don’t need to have a professionally filmed video. Of course it helps, but the overarching reason for the video is for backers to get to know the people behind the campaign. Before backers are going to give you their money, they want to know you’re a “real person” and they want to see your emotion and commitment to the project. If you’re not pumped up, why should they be?

What kind of video is right for your campaign? Do you need to be in it or can you get the message across in a different, fun way? 

Overview. Give your backers an overview of what they’re getting. If you’re selling a card game, you want to share the general gameplay (even if you haven’t completely fleshed it out yet). Mixing the written word with infographics is a visually compelling way of pulling potential backers in and send them reading to the bottom!

DR INGREDIENT CARDS v.3

“Who We Are” Section. 2/3 of successful crowdsourcing campaigns are done with teams. It’s important to include a section about the team behind the campaign, again, to build credibility among the potential backers. This gives proper recognition to the people that contributed, but also gives the team ample reason to share the campaign with their own networks. “Check out this game I worked on!” A short paragraph and a picture of each team member goes a long way.

What information can you provide that will instill the backers with confidence in your team? 

Why Pledge? Section. Getting in at the bottom floor is one obvious benefit to backing your project, but that shouldn’t be everything. Tell your backers why backing this project right now is the first stepping stone to a much larger plan. “This is something new to be a part of” isn’t as good as, “This will be the first game in a family of card games, and we won’t be manufacturing this game with the same packaging and box design in the future. Back us today because this is it!”

What are the real benefits to contributing to your campaign early? Can you provide any intangible or “one-of-a-kind” benefits to your backers? Be creative!

Stretch Goals. Stretch goals are a great tool to incentivize backers. If you’re going to include “stretch goals,” I suggest you have both financial stretch goals (i.e. “If we reach $10,000, we’ll release a stretch expansion pack”) and crowd stretch goals (i.e. “If we reach 1,000 donors, we’ll release a stretch expansion pack”). Depending on your campaign goal, an overly successful campaign should result in “unlocking” at least one of these stretch goals.

What kind of stretch goals do we want to accomplish? Donors? Financial? Social media following? What kind of behaviors can you influence by utilizing stretch goals?

Risks and Challenges Section. Be honest and open about the process. Crowdsourcing gives backers the opportunity to contribute to something at the very beginning. Being honest and open about the risks and challenges your project faces not only opens up communication with your crowd but it also presents an opportunity for the crowd to contribute. If you foresee yourself encountering some issues along the way, publicize them, because one of your backers may be able to help!

What are the real risks and challenges you face? What is the worst case scenario? What happens if you are insanely successful, what possibly problems could you face then? What happens if you fail to reach your minimum goal? Is it the end of the road?

Campaign Updates

Crowdfunding is about including the crowd in the process. Accordingly, you need to be updating your crowd almost constantly throughout the course of the campaign. This means utilizing social media (you should have a Facebook Page, Facebook Group, and Twitter #hashtag for the campaign), as well as leveraging the built in updates to the campaign platform. The easiest way to do this is by reaching out to your crowd when you reach major milestones:

Time Updates

  • First 24 hours.last-day-v1
  • First Week.
  • Half Way Done.
  • One Week Left.
  • 48 Hours Left.
  • 24 Hours Left.
  • 1 Hour Left

Funding Updates

  • Quarter of the Way!
  • Halfway there!
  • 10% left!
  • Fully funded!
  • Stretch goal achieved!
  • Shipped out!

What information do my backers want to know throughout the campaign? What information is important to get across to potential backers? How many updates are too many updates? 

Content. Leveraging these updates is the best way to get input from your community. Throughout the campaign you should be sharing the evolution of the artwork, seek input from your community, and inspire them to seek out and share your campaign with their own communities. The more you give to your community, the more they’ll give you back. It’s also worth mentioning that these updates can automatically post to Facebook and Twitter, and “boosting” these posts is an easy way to generate interest.

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People also love sharing the rewards of their crowdfunding participation! Encourage your backers to share their rewards with their social networks then share, retweet, and repost!

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How can I maximize my crowd through updates? What content can we share to incite more enthusiasm for the project? 

Rewards

You can offer as many reward tiers as you want, but I’ve found that simpler is better. If you’re offering a card game, you don’t need to have t-shirts and apparel as donor levels. By keeping the donor levels simple, you won’t get bogged down in the fulfillment logistics after the campaign.

Calculate the Shipping! With Dinner’s Ready!, we wanted people to purchase more than one deck, so we offered to calculate the shipping costs later and bill each backer separately for their shipping. When we invoiced out the shipping, we only got 1/10 of our backers to reimburse us for the shipping (we event spent $27 shipping a game to the UK, which was more than they gave to the campaign in the first place!). Not surprisingly, this significantly ate into our margins. Calculate the shipping and make that in addition to the cost of the game.

How much is it going to cost us to get the product shipped from the manufacturer? How much is going to cost to send each product to the backers? What happens if packages are returned?

Low Goal (No Game). <$10 If you’re launching a project in this day and age, you should have a stand alone website for the product outside of the crowdfunding platform. Utilizing this webpage gives you the opportunity to reward your lowest tier of backers. A small donation deserves recognition, and having a “thank you” page on your website is a great opportunity to collect the low-hanging fruit.

How can I make a small donation a worthwhile investment? How can I inspire a small donor to give more money? 

Core Product (Basic Game). ~$15-$25 Your core product can be priced at anything you want, assuming you’ve calculated your minimum per unit cost and you’ve set the price accordingly. Something important to remember is that crowdsourcing backers expect they will be paying slightly more than consumers will in the future, because they were contributing to not just the game but the entire lifespan of the game moving forward.

At what price does my product feel like a steal? At what price does my product feel like a rip off?

Upgrade (Expansion Pack). ~$35 (including Basic Game) If you’re going to do an expansion pack, offer a backer-tier that includes the basic game. Chances are you’re going to manufacture the expansion set separately, which will allow you to have additional expansion sets available for purchase after the campaign for those that didn’t order it during the initial campaign.

Does my campaign facilitate an “expansion” of some kind? What kind of expansion would be best for my campaign? Should I get the input of my crowd to determine what the expansion is? How many people will buy the expansion versus the original?

Bundle (Pair of Games). ~$45. Don’t underestimate the power of “giving.” As much as people like getting in on the ground floor of a cool project, they love sharing their cool projects with other people. Bundles give the opportunity for backers to get one for them, and one for someone else.

Is this the kind of campaign where bulk buying is likely? Is there a need to create a larger bundle than 2? 

Marketing

According to research, the number one and two reasons why crowdsourcing campaigns fail is that (1) the target audience was not well understand, and (2) the marketing efforts were not adequate. The intention of the marketing is different for each stage of the project, and in order to have a truly successful campaign, you’ll need to capitalize on each stage individually.

Pre-campaign. The sole focus of your pre-campaign marketing efforts should be to get people “lined up” to buy your product at the moment you press the “Launch” button. This means you need to do press releases, reach out to public entities and accounts, all with the intention of getting that first burst of attention at the launch.

Have I made myself a member of this community already? How can I draw attention to my game without appearing to be a spammer? Is there a better way to reach this particular community?

Campaign. Your marketing during the campaign needs to be heavily weighted toward the beginning and the end of the campaign. If you get fully funded within 24 hours, Kickstarter will feature you and give you an extra marketing bump by featuring it on their website. Getting the Kickstarter “seal of approval” is an instant game changer when it comes to any campaign on their platform. If you get it, you’re almost guaranteed to succeed.

In the event you are not fully funded early on, your marketing should be focused on getting in front of your target audience, friends, and family. Finding where your “crowd” hangs out, what blogs they read, what other projects they’ve backed, etc., is the best to way to draw in more eyes to your project.

If it’s going to be a fist fight to the end of the campaign, the last of your campaign efforts needs to be focused on the last 72 hours of the campaign. You need to reinvigorate all those backers who said they’d be back, and really capitalize on the FOMO on your project. Looping back to the all the marketing venues you utilized along the way is a great way to get those last ditch efforts to convert in those final harrowing hours.

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Was my messaging clear? How many people actually saw our advertisement? What was the CPC? Where were the marketing efforts least successful? Was it worth the investment and time?

Post-campaign. Congratulations! Your campaign was fully funded, but that’s just the beginning of your journey. Now that you’ve got the money you were looking for, you need to start setting the stage for the next steps, which is continuing to stoke the public’s appetite for the game and letting them know where they can get it next. If you have a website, or an e-commerce site, for the game, this is where you’ll want to send the traffic next.

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Dinner’s Ready! is available from the Mystery Tin Games web store!

Have I laid proper groundwork to convert the “interested” parties into customers?

Fulfillment

Abraham Lincoln said, “If you give me four hours to cut down a cherry tree, I’ll spend the first three hours sharpening my axe.” Whether you’ve got 50 orders or 5000 orders, having systems in place is essential.

Reports. Kickstarter does a great job of helping you collect information from your backers, including their mailing addresses. Make sure you have all the survey questions figured out ahead of time, as they only let you message everybody once.

Do I have all the information I need to deliver? Have I clarified any questions with my backers?

Organization. Export the information into an excel sheet based on the donor levels, and work through each level preparing for fulfillment. We recommend starting with the highest donor levels and working your way toward the bottom.

Where will I be staging the inventory? Who will be responsible for organizing, packing, and labeling the orders? What steps am I taking to be ensure fulfillment is done efficiently?

img_1873Shipping. Depending on the number of backers you need to fulfill, you’re going to have quite a shipping operation on your hands. I would recommend picking up a scale and weighing out each variation or SKU you’re sending out. By having these numbers in advance, you won’t have to weigh each box individually, just change the destination and print the labels.

Stamps.com has an introductory offer where they’ll send you a digital scale and allow you to print your own shipping labels at home. If you’re in this thousands of backers, you can import the excel sheet containing all the addresses and print them all off. You’re also able to schedule a “package pick up” so you won’t have to haul hundreds of packages to the post office.

Who will be responsible for the boxing and shipping? How long will it take to ship everything out? Who should be the first to receive their packages? Is there an easier way to ship out the rewards?

Other Random Crowdfunding Tips

Here’s a few more tips for you to consider when running a crowdsourcing campaign,

Good luck out there!
CHE

Unlimited Bowling

A friend and I went bowling this past weekend at Grand Central Bowling in Portland. It’s a dark, neon-lit bowling alley with a sports bar attached to it. There’s a few arcade games on a balcony second floor, and the air hockey table has an impenetrable plastic shield in the middle. (It’s the details that really matter.)

IMG_4547The ambiance came at a price, of course. A big one. After all was said and paid for (including a little greasing to get on the lanes early), we paid $7.00 per game. Each. That’s $0.70 per strike or $0.35 per roll, depending on how good you are at throwing a round rock down an alley while wearing borrowed sneakers. What happened to the days of unlimited bowling?

A daytime party with little kids had just ended, so we inherited a lane with the bumpers already up. Maybe it comes that way? Whatever. When it was my first bowl, I aired off my good old bowling hand and picked up a 12-pound ball.

“I think I’m gonna work on my hook shot,” I announced proudly as I prepared for glory.

I continued with my approach and, thumb loose, I released the bowling ball, spinning the hell out of it. And just like it had eyes, with no sense of direction or well being, that ball clamored its way down the alley, slamming side to side off the bumpers until it guilt-tripped a handful of feeble pins to fall over at the end. It was nothing short of embarrassing.

“I guess I forgot how hard bowling can be…” We played through another frame of pity-bowling before we opted to take the bumpers down and face our failures head on.

Honestly, I’d probably gotten a little too used to the Wii version of bowling. But that’s not really bowling. It’s a motion that, for all intents and purposes, resembles a bowling approach but when applied to actual bowling, is a surefire way to injure yourself or throw a gutter ball. It was obvious that I was supremely out of practice, which again brought me back to the idea of unlimited bowling.

Seth Godin talks about the idea of unlimited bowling with Chase Jarvis on his “30 Days of Genius” interview series. Seth touches on the old pay-by-the-game bowling days when every attempt mattered to a point of excluding risk. Right down the center of the lane is safe, and boring. Unlimited bowling is taking risks without penalty. Becoming familiar with failure. Learning from your mistakes and trying again, not because the risks are the exact same the next time, but because we live in an unlimited bowling time.

“… do we have the guts to say, ‘you know, this might not work, but I’m going to persistently, and consistently, and generously, bring it forward.'” – Seth Godin

Time moves inexorably onward toward the day we die, which is why the circumstances in which we find ourselves are rarely that of unlimited bowling. There are actual consequences to trying something new and failing, because among other things, a continuing lack of results begins to build up. But if it is our true passion we are pursuing, there’s real no downside to throwing a gutter ball or two. Your passion brings out a heightened level of focus, attention, and analyzation that surpasses anything else in your life. If you fail, if you throw a gutter ball, you will think about every part of your approach and make that note to gently turn your wrist inward before releasing. You are truly invested in the outcomes of your passion, so you are eager learn from the mistakes. Nothing’s a total loss. It’s all just practice.

Teaching ourselves to embrace each opportunity, good or bad, as a learning opportunity, as unlimited bowling, is to give ourselves the best possible chance to succeed. Not because we’ll do it right the first time, but because we have the fortitude to persevere through what appears to be yet another failure. The promise of unlimited bowling is that there’s always next time, despite what happened last frame. We may not always have that luxury in the workplace, but if you adopt the growth mindset, your past results (whatever they may be) will one day fade in importance when compared to your work that lies ahead.

The most skilled bowlers will tell you nearly every minute detail about the time they rolled their first “perfect game.” The epic 300. But they won’t bend your ear telling you about the games they bowled under 50. Or the games under 25. Or yes, even the games where they didn’t knock down a single pin because they were focused on picking up a particular split or release. And just like the most successful entrepreneurs, gutter balls are part of the learning process, so you must pick yourself up and move fearlessly on to the next frame.

It is only when you are no longer afraid of failure, that everything becomes unlimited bowling.

CHE

Dinner’s Ready! Update and Survey

Dinner’s Ready! is now out in the world, available for purchase (here). Perhaps a little bit more jarring, Dinner’s Ready! is out in the world for public scrutiny. It’s necessary to stick your neck out in marketing, so I submitted Dinner’s Ready! to a ton of card game and board game review websites and blogs. Only a couple bit.

tumblr_o3ywr3TaZN1rt7qgbo1_500We boxed them up and sent them out a copy of the deck, equally hesitant and excited about their take on the game. We even sent one to the First Lady, Michelle Obama. She wrote back with this…

Perhaps more importantly, we were looking for any word from these influential websites. Soon enough, I got an e-mail from one of the blogs. They had questions about the game’s instructions.

This is good… right?

I did my best to answer the questions, but even then some of the language was touchy. Did my language leave too much to the imagination? How was this coming through on the gameplay?

Last week, the first review of Dinner’s Ready! went live. It was honest. It was complimentary and condemning all in the same breath. Here were some of the highlights,

  • “Dinner’s Ready is a good educational game that teaches about food groups and creating a balanced meal. It is easy to set up and can be played with the whole family.”
  • “For parents looking to teach their kids about food and nutrition, this is the game for you.”

But the overarching theme of the review was that the game was too highly weighed down in education, so the gameplay is slow. Challenging, yet slow. This slower pace of gameplay could impact the level of “fun” that people have.

These are all truly valid points. Classes aren’t fun. Card games are supposed to be fun.

One of the concepts we played with from the beginning of this whole project was that we wanted to educate kids about healthy eating. How ingredients go together. But unlike actual cooking, Dinner’s Ready! comes with rules. Or rather, had to come with an initial set of rules.

What we perhaps failed to make as clear as we should have, was that these Dinner’s Ready! cards are tools to create your own card games with healthy food. However you want to manipulate the cards is up to you! If you want to play “Go Fish” with ingredient cards, go for it! If you want to play with one recipe and three ingredients, help yourself! Make it fun!

Versatility is not necessarily a benefit of a card game. With all the tools we have in the world to assist us in teaching our kids about food, why is this card game better than all of those? Because it’s tactile? Because it contains an extra fact? Because it’s so beautifully designed? What makes Dinner’s Ready! different?

Dinner’s Ready! is different from all the other teaching tools because it allows players, young and old, to explore the connections between whole ingredients and healthy eating, away from computer screens, interacting and learning with others. Dinner’s Ready! is the

I’m not going to link to the article here. If you want to read it, you can find it yourself. I just don’t find the value to directing people’s attention to one person’s review of our flaws, while we’re already taking steps to make the next versions of the game better. We got what we asked for, and we’re responding accordingly. Speed bumps, am I right?

If you’ve played Dinner’s Ready! and you’d like to help us craft a better version in the future, feel free to fill out this quick survey (and pick up a copy of Dinner’s Ready! for a friend here).

We’d really appreciate it.

CHE

Learning from the Lumps

I’ve had a few “door-to-door” sales jobs in my life, and the truth is, I didn’t like them at all. I believed in what I was selling (sometimes) but for some reason, the unsolicited business proposition always felt a touch pushy. Yucky.

My first door-to-door sales job was the summer between Junior and Senior year in college. I was living in my friend Ward’s guest room, when I got a job selling framed artwork out of the back of my car. It was prints of famous works of art, that I was selling “at frame cost.” The whole thing felt kinda scummy, but the people were cool. I shadowed two people, and on the third day I went out on my own. I sold four black and white photographs to a dentist office then quit. I went home, drank tequila and watched the World Cup.

The second door-to-door sales job was a few years later in Sydney, Australia while I was living there after college. I was looking for a job, any job, and I found an opening at one of the large telephone companies. The posting was rather cryptic, but I was feeling pressured to find work, so I went for the interview.

I sat down and we briefly touched on the idea of door-to-door sales. I said I wasn’t ecstatic about the idea, but I was willing to give it a shot. So after the meeting, rather than going home, I was escorted into the back of a van and driven out to a random corner of Sydney to start canvassing. Trial by fire, I guess.

It was raining and cold out, and we got turned away from every single house we approached. After an hour of this nonsense, I literally walked away from the group. I had no idea where I was in Sydney, but the thing I did know, was that I had no interest in selling phone upgrades for some major conglomerate. That’s just not for me.

But the concept of “door-to-door” sales has once again thrust itself into my lap, this time with Dinner’s Ready! I’m no longer peddling garbage for a conglomerate, I’m selling my own hard work, my own blood, sweat, and tears. On it’s face, the situations are completely different, but inside, I felt the same unease, but now there’s the added elements of fear and rejection.

Last fall, while developing Dinner’s Ready!, I went store to store in my neighborhood looking for similar food-related card games. I found the same food games at every store. The sushi game. Slapwich. Nothing special, or even remotely related to my game. This, I took, as a good sign for my game.

The very first store I went into back in August, let’s call it Cute Store, seemed receptive to my idea, and on the way out, somebody said, “maybe you should make one.” Bingo. If there was any place that I should being my door-to-door sales, it should be with Cute Store, the same place that supported my idea in the first place. Not to mention, opening with that story could be a great way to ease into the sale!

Last week, I went into Cute Store and after introducing myself, asked if I could speak to the manager or owner. The woman behind the register seemed put upon by my request, so much to the point she didn’t even tell me her name. She remained withdrawn (and frankly rue) while I asked if she had a moment to chat. Of course she said she didn’t, despite there being no other patrons in the store. I marched on, telling the story of the visit last fall, and that I had developed Dinner’s Ready! after all.

“Does it have a CPSC certification?” she asked. “Because if it doesn’t, this whole thing is kinda moot.”

Wow. I had never even heard of the CPSC (which was a good thing for me to learn about) but her tone cut me to the core. She didn’t even want to look at the game before dismissing me. She wrote down “CPSC” and the owner’s name on a business card, telling me to come back when I have the certification.

The CPSC is the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and it requires that all products geared towards children must be certified by a third party laboratory to ensure safety, etc. No dangerous parts or chemicals, etc. This helps protect stores against third party liabilities, in the event a kid swallows their game piece or something.

But I wasn’t building a children’s game with pieces. I wasn’t even really building a children’s game, it’s just a card game that families and children can play. Does it really need all this expensive testing? And after a little more research, I found that the CPSC states that “general audience” card games are not considered children’s games and therefore, require no certification. So it’s looks like I’m all good!

So today I marched back into Cute Store, asked for the owner, and when she came out from the back, I pitched Dinner’s Ready! again, complete with sample deck in hand. It was my first real sales test out in the world, and I’ll be honest, I was shaking like crazy! I was nervous and jittery, and I stumbled a little bit, but I think I was able to get everything across I needed to. When she asked about the CPSC certification, I presented the FAQ’s page and told her that “general audience” games don’t need it. She was pleased to hear that.

When my pitch was over, she held my sales packet in her hand and looked at me honestly, “This is really cute. I think this is a great game and something that we could definitely carry in our store. I’ll have to check with my partner but we’ll be in touch.”

Yes, I know. That’s not a sale. But it’s not the flat out “no” I got last time. I had stewed on that first rejection really hard, debating if I should even go back into Cute Store at all. Part of me wanted to write them off all together, but the bigger side of me wanted to prove that Dinner’s Ready! really should be out in the world and in their store. I couldn’t let one rejection get me so far down, and in the end, it may pay off.

So I happy spent this afternoon, going storefront to storefront, peddling my wares.

You’re gonna take lumps. Lots of them. But if you do your best to learn from the lumps, refocus your negatives into positives (by asking questions and seeking ways to grow from the no’s), you’ll find that every experience, the good, the bad, and the really really ugly, can all be turned into a learning experience, and help build up your confidence for the next challenge, whatever it may be.

Don’t give up, get fired up!

CHE

P.S. If you’re a retailer or online distributor interested in carrying Dinner’s Ready!, check out our Dinner’s Ready! Sales Packet!

 

Crowdsourcing: Popularity Contest or Fist Fight?

I have been “in charge” of three crowdsourcing campaigns: a $15,000 IndieGoGo campaign for a documentary film (I had a TON of help), a $1,500 solo-campaign for directing my own short film, and most recently, a $4,000 Kickstarter campaign for my Dinner’s Ready! cooking card game (with two partners). All three were successful; the narrowest by only $10 and the Dinner’s Ready! campaign reached 117% of our initial goal. Of course, I had many people sharing and supporting these campaigns, but even then, I couldn’t help wondering if crowdsourcing was a popularity contest or more of a fist fight?

The popularity contest angle is obvious. You need to have a LOT of people backing your project in order for it to get funded. You must reach your goal, or you get nothing. You’re either Prom King or you’re not. People don’t often put their money where their mouth is, but that’s where Kickstarter shines through. “I’d totally buy that,” now has an easy, convenient response.

Many campaign creators agree that Kickstarters go one of two ways, either you hit your goal (and then some!) within the first 48 hours and you’re all of a sudden hit with a dozen problems you never knew you’d have, or it’s a long, arduous process which near the end, resembles groveling. And the insult to injury? You may not even reach your goal. It’s the latter scenerio, the stressful grind to the end, that in my opinion, resembles the fist fight.

If something is considered popular, people are more likely to get on board. Exploding Kittens, the epic card game, had 219,000 donors. That’s equivalent to the 98th largest city in the United States (beating out Richmond, Virginia). Dinner’s Ready!, our educational family cooking card game, has 86 (AWESOME) backers. Their game has kittens. Our game has Broccoli. They reached their goal within 38 minutes. We reached out goal with 38 hours left to go. Their game was instantly a “Kickstarter Staff Pick.” My game was instantly my “Mom’s Pick.” Different experiences, I guess.

The hardest part of running a Kickstarter that doesn’t blow up is navigating the delicate waters of friendship and business, all in the same breath. Crowdsourcing could very well be called “friend sourcing” when your product doesn’t immediately get funded. You start relying on the support of your friends more and more as the deadline draws closer. You find yourselves writing e-mails then deleting them, because you don’t want to be too pushy. Most people are admittedly forgetful, so writing e-mail follow ups is always necessary, but it’s hard to determine “uninterested” or “forgetful” from the sending side of a solicitation e-mail. You just have to swallow your pride and do it.

The hardest part may come after the Kickstarter is over. I am fortunate enough to not have any failed campaigns, but the afterburn is still quite painful. I’ve tried not to bring up the crowdsourcing campaign with people, but inevitably they ask if they can still donate, “I’ve been meaning to do that.” Is it lip service? Are they trying to make you feel better they didn’t donate in the beginning? I try not to make people feel awkward if they didn’t donate to my campaign, because not everything I do is going to be for, or enjoyed by, everyone.

The ones that hurt the most are the people you’d expect to back your project, that didn’t. I have a lot of “acquaintances” and a handful of people I’d really call “friends.” It’s hard when somebody you care about, somebody that consistently supports your work, doesn’t support your work when it truly matters (like in a crowdsourcing campaign). It puts a pit in your stomach when the day after your campaign is over, you’re pitching a friend of yours on the same product you’ve been pitching them for the past three weeks, only now they’re paying attention. It’s hard not to be “self-centered” when you’re running a crowdsourcing campaign, especially on Kickstarter, because you either get 100% of your funding goal or you get nothing. If you get nothing, that’s gonna feel personal, regardless if it is or not.

By the end of the campaign, I was absolutely exhausted. I intentionally ended the campaign on the night of October 23, because the following day was my 30th birthday. I wanted to have a jolt of success sending me out of my 20s into my 30s, with a little direction and motivation to stay on point. But by the end of the campaign, after having reached our fundraising goal and kept pushing for our stretch goals and more donors, I was too tired to close. Instead of staying up until midnight, pushing hard over the last hours, and watching the clock hit midnight, and turning the final page on my 20s, I went to bed at 9:30 PM, a happy, bloody mess.

I’ve written on my blog before about my friendships, and how recently I’ve felt I’ve let some of my friendships go away. I made a conscious effort during the campaign not to solicit (too much) to the people I really miss in my life. I wanted to catch up with them, find out how their lives are, but I didn’t want to do it with the crowdsourcing campaign being the “elephant in the room.” I wanted to catch up with my old friends, completely agenda less, just like we were when we first became friends all those years ago.

It will most likely come as bad news to my friends that I am not done with Kickstarter. A lot of my projects are based around enhancing my life and the lives of my friends and family, which is why most of my projects are geared toward them. Crowdsourcing is a way of getting my friends things I think will make our lives better while starting the journey to sharing it with others. I have many ideas for crowdsourcing campaigns in the future, including one in the middle of next year, but we’ll talk about that when we get there. For now, Dinner’s Ready! was successful and we’re extremely proud.

In the meantime, if you’re planning for a crowdsourcing campaign, be ready for a hard dose of reality about your perceived popularity. Sure, you may be way more popular than you ever imagined, or you may be a total nobody, but the most important thing is not to let it cloud your perspective of you who are personally. It’s a reflection of the crowd.

Keep your chin up.

CHE

Dinner’s Ready! is now available on Kickstarter!

DR INGREDIENT CARDS v.3

It was another late night last night and I’m hoping it’s the last one for a while. We launched Dinner’s Ready! yesterday afternoon to a “soft opening.” I sent e-mails to my closest 132 friends and family, encouraging them to hurry over to the Kickstarter page to pick up one of the “Early Bird Specials” we’re offering. I also e-mailed the newsletter recipients and started making lists of publications to reach out to. Oh yeah, and queueing up a bunch of tweets.

Truth be told, I ran into devastating computer problems recently which brought a majority of my “art” to a grinding halt. Luckily, Eric Parker has been at the helm of the artwork for the Dinner’s Ready! project, but I haven’t been able to continue The Modern Artrepreneur Podcast for the last two weeks. I first discussed Dinner’s Ready! back on Episode 2, and I’m not ashamed to say that I have been thinking of very little else. This game has consumed my life.

But in the end, or rather, as of now, we believe Dinner’s Ready! is a fantastic, unique game that will bring cooking to life in a new, fun way! We’ve doing play tests of the game and receiving feedback (both positive and negative) and we’re nowhere near finished. We know how the game works, we just need to properly describe it. That’s just one of the many tasks on my plate over the course of the crowdsourcing campaign.

So here’s an overview of what we’re offering on Kickstarter!

Dinner’s Ready! challenges players to collect three recipe cards: an appetizer, an entree, and a dessert. Each recipe card calls for three ingredients, one from each of the FDA’s five food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, and dairy. Once players have a “balanced meal,” they move on to collect the necessary ingredient cards to make those recipes. The first person to collect all the ingredients to prepare their healthy dinner wins, exclaiming “dinner’s ready!”

Dinner’s Ready! is ideal for families looking for a new venue to educate their children about whole foods, the food groups, the dexterity of ingredients, and the order in which meals are prepared. The Basic Dinner’s Ready! game ($20) comes with 30 healthy recipes, fifty ingredient cards, “rotten ingredients,” and informational cards. Our ultimate goal is for children to gain a new perspective on cooking and ask to eat one of the delicious meals from the game.

The game is also fun for an “adults only” crowd! Our Four Course Expansion Deck features exclusive recipes from Chefs Hodgson and Miller, as well as a set of “Drink Pairing” cards with an optional “Drinking Suggestions” card if you want to boost the stakes. You’re never too old to learn some delicious new recipes while sharing a drink with friends.

Our top expansion pack, The Family Recipe Deck, is a set of blank recipe and ingredient cards, for you to keep track of your own family recipes and incorporate them into the Dinner’s Ready! game.

I’ll spare you all the details of development (that’s more for the podcast) but I can tell you that we’re extremely excited about the project and its potential to change eating habits and food preferences, particularly with children. Plain and simple, no matter who you are, we think you’ll love Dinner’s Ready! 

You can check out the Kickstarter here.

Thank you!

Chris (and Eric)

Some Dinner’s Ready! Updates

On the last episode of my podcast The Modern ArtrepreneurI discussed the history behind my new family card game, Dinner’s Ready! The game didn’t always start out as a family-focused, healthy eating, nutrition-driven card game, but in fact, it was quite the opposite. The game started out as War College, a new style “war” card game based on the United States Military. I still think that game would be fun to play, but for now, Dinner’s Ready! really fits the bill and people are getting behind our mission to promote healthy eating, starting at home.

As Baby Chips can testify, the card game is nearly all I talk about these days. It fills my every thought. Would this be a good recipe for the game? Do you think this place would be a good venue to do a play test? Do you think that chef would be interested in sponsoring or promoting the game? And perhaps my favorite phase du jour is, “…after the game comes out.” I’m constantly checking for new additions to the newsletter and new e-mails from interested parties. I’m sure Eric Parker (aka “Nanook”) feels the same way.

The excitement is really building and it has taken immense feats of strength and patience to not share every single little thing that has been happening along the way. I’d love to splurge the details of the Food Network Chefs that are interested in supporting the game, or the beautiful artwork that Nanook and I have been developing, or even the awesome guerrilla marketing campaign we’ll be launching in a few days, but I won’t (sorry!) I just don’t want to dish all the good stuff, build all this hype, then not have the wave continue of enthusiasm die out when the crowdsourcing campaign is up and running. We’re hoping for an October 1 launch date, but between here and there we will be leaking out little bits of information to continue whetting your appetite for Dinner’s Ready! (see what I did there?)

So… what’s the latest update with the Dinner’s Ready! game? We’ve nearly finished designing the basic deck and we’re going to be ordering some test decks (all the way from China!) by the end of this week! This will be exciting (and scary) because it’ll be the first time that we’ll actually get to hold the game in our hands and see the product of all our hard work! We’ll be using these decks to make small corrections (alignment, color corrections, image selection, etc.) but we’ll also be using these decks to host a couple of “play tests,” most likely in San Francisco and Portland. If you’re interested in participating in one of these play tests, please e-mail us at info@dinnersreadygame.com and we’ll put you on the list! You can also follow the Dinner’s Ready! page on Facebook.

I’m filled with immense pride when I think about everything we’ve accomplished so far and the immense, uphill road ahead of us in turning our game into a reality, one that can change how families talk about nutrition and healthy eating. We’ve come to discover this idea, this concept, is much bigger than us, so we owe it the justice and effort it deserves.

It’s for the kids, man!

As always, take care of yourself and don’t forget to eat well.

CHE