Crowdfunding campaigns are exciting, and they can harvest an intoxicating amount of money.
But what do you do after campaign is over?
How do you make the transition from a great idea — maybe even a newly well-funded great idea — to a solid, sustainable company that delivers well-made products on time, and continues to attract new customers?
That’s the subject of Ericka Basile’s presentation at this year’s World Maker Faire New York: Post-Crowdfunding Conundrum: Where Do We Go From Here?
Basile is the Senior Director of Partner Programs at The Grommet, a product launch platform that has featured over 6,000 individual products since its start in 2008. The Grommet is a curator: it selects new products that its staff think are particularly cool or useful and shines a spotlight on them, presenting them to its online audience.
Every day at noon The Grommet provides a 1- to 2-minute review video of a new product, as well as an accompanying story that tells the story behind the item and the founder. The site also provides PR and social media outreach on behalf of the product.
Most of the time, The Grommet purchases these products at or near wholesale, as typical retailers do.
But the company has also just started a new accelerator program where it works with nascent companies that have high potential, but specific growth needs. The Grommet staff advises these “Accelerator Partners” via in-house focus sessions, weekly phone calls, and networking guidance. For these Accelerator Partners, The Grommet earns a percentage of partner sales from all commerce channels for a set timeframe.
Basile has started over 10 companies including two magazines, a quilt kit company, and an iPad App review site. At The Grommet, Basile works with early-stage inventors, many directly after they’ve finished their crowdfunding campaigns, to guide them toward long-term success.
Recent post-crowdfunding success stories that have launched on The Grommet include wallet-sized multi-tool, PocketMonkey, and a new design for swim goggles, Frogglez.
So what kinds of issues should you be thinking about, post-crowdfunding?
Scale is one, Basile says. Think about two levels of manufacturing, and how you would plan for each one.
1. How will you make 1000 widgets a month for 6 months?
2. Where can you go when you need to scale to 10,000 widgets a month?
Another post-crowdfunding issue: sales.
Basile suggests: hire a dedicated sales person.
“You can’t do it all at the level your company has just catapulted to,” she says. “Get out of your own way.”
If you are the inventor, she says, focus on manufacturing, packaging, and developing new product lines. Let someone else think about sales.
Here’s another way to harvest post-crowdfunding advice: take a long stroll through the hundreds of exhibits at World Maker Faire New York. You’ll find literally dozens of maker/entrepreneurs with experience on this side of crowdfunding campaigns.
In fact, you’re not likely to find a greater concentration of crowdfunding experience anywhere else on earth.
So if you’re a maker with pro aspirations, you can follow up your “what” questions about the hundreds of products on display, with “how” questions about how these inventions are finding customers: during crowdfunding campaigns… and afterwards.