At Orabrush, we decided to crowd-fund our next product, the Orapup (Bye Bye, Bad Dog Breath). We researched our options and concluded that Kickstarter was the best option because of the size of their network. However, after trying to reach out to their management, we learned that they wouldn’t approve our project.

We then opted for Indiegogo, whose team helped us figure out how to setup our campaign the way we wanted to.

We were thrilled that Indiegogo has a better tracking system than Kickstarter. As of when we researched in August, this is where Indiegogo surpassed Kickstarter, who only gave aggregate statistics.

Here’s a hint, every Indiegogo user is assigned an id. When any user shares, they get ?a={their-id} appended to the end of their link. Indiegogo then tracks the link in their database. What’s more, Indiegogo gives the number of visitors, funders, and total contributions of every participating user in the campaign owner’s dashboard.

We used that data to test the effectiveness of all of the traffic we sent to Indiegogo.  It helped us evaluate the effectiveness of our marketing channels. Very helpful.

Yet, our conversion rates were not nearly as high as we experienced on our own website for Orabrush.

So, as our Indiegogo campaign ended, we launched Orapup.com preorders similiar to Lockitron (with Amazon). Using Amazon as checkout increased our conversion rates significantly (like over 60 percent as I recall). Between that and optimization of our website, we’ve raised more in the last month ($75k) than we raised in 64 days on Indiegogo ($62k).

Indiegogo

If you want to track multiple marketing channels, A/B test, and optimize your conversion process and you don’t have any development resources, I recommend using Indiegogo because of their tracking capabilities.

Kickstarter

If you have a project that has Kickstarter appeal (you have to be participating on Kickstarter for a while to understand which projects have appeal), it may be worth the loss of more accurate tracking for the network effect.

NOTE: I see lots of projects launched on Indiegogo and Kickstarter and they get absolutely no traction except from their closest friends or family. If you don’t have a network or audience to jumpstart your campaign, projects like Bugasalt (that seem to take off on their own) are the exception. Even Bugasalt had to get enough traction to attract links to its video from reeddit and publicity from ABC Nightline.

We found that on Indiegogo, our network was the reason for over 90 percent of the sales.

Own Preorder System

If you have development resources and you have your own audience, creating your own preorder system provides much more control. Also, using Amazon for our checkout, we were able to generate higher conversion rates. This is how we would do it  from the beginning if we did it again.

Technical Note:

I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how Lockitron set up their preordering system. I finally called Amazon. Either the Amazon employee was clueless or didn’t want me to know how to set it up. The person I talked to said it had something to do with the restock date in the API.  That was a dead end.

At any rate, I did a ton of digging to figure out how to set up the campaign. It’s called Amazon Flexible Payments. It was slick to set up and more affordable than the crowd funding fees of 9 percent.  What’s more, you get the authorization but you can wait to settle until you ship, which can be more than 30 days in the future (could be a year in the future for that matter). Here’s a great write up on Amazon FPS.

But I wouldn’t go for your own preorder website just because the fees are less, I would do it most because you can control the conversion funnel better.

Conclusion

We will definitely crowd-fund a new product in the future because of what we learn from the marketplace in advance of shipping our product. However, after this time through, we concluded that doing it ourselves with a reputable payment provider provided better return than trying to launch on the two most popular crowd-funding sites.

UPDATE 3/12/2013

We collecting our preorders now and I had to build out a number of tools to take care of things I thought Amazon FPS would take care of automatically (collection on cards that had expired, failed, etc). Between the time we launched and now, Lockitron made their code open source as SelfStarter. Then CrowdTilt launched a hosted version of SelftStarter called Crowdhoster. I would check those out rather than building your own system.


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