A couple of months ago we talked about some of the most exciting tech to come out of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. One of those products was the 3Doodler, whose Kickstarter campaign in early 2013 smashed its target within days.
We thought the 3Doodler sounded so cool that we’ll be having a 3Doodler scribe at some of the sessions at Technoport 2014. In advance of that, we asked the 3Doodler creators to reflect on their crowdfunding success and share some insights.
What lead you to try crowdfunding for the 3Doodler?
All three co-founders have been users of CF sites for some time. Between us we have backed well over twenty projects in the past few years, and at the Artisan’s Asylum, where we work, we have been able to witness other CF projects from inception to execution. We knew that CF, particularly on Kickstarter, would offer a great platform to garner interest in the 3Doodler, test the concept, market to potential consumers, and create a vibrant and supportive community. It also came with the benefits of having all mechanisms, such as payment processing and community management in place.
Your Kickstarter project was almost an overnight success. Did that bring unexpected consequences?
We were prepared in the sense that we had the resources to cope with the emails and media attention. We also had a concrete sense of the goals and budgets of our project before going on Kickstarter, and before putting 3Doodler into the public eye. That said, the pace of emails and messaged (each of which we committed to respond to) caught us off guard, with thousands coming in a day at one stage. That’s when having a flexible team, and a friend or two to lend a hand can really help.
Would you do crowdfunding again, or would you look to more traditional investors in the future?
Yes, absolutely we would, crowdfunding worked very well for us the first time around. The whole Kickstarter experience was a very positive one for us – we were able to get some fantastic feedback from backers and the community. And that’s why we would do it again – the fact that we get to build a community before 3Doodler had even hit the stores was awesome.
What are your thoughts on equity crowdfunding?
It’s great for feedback and getting your project off the ground, but you just need to be careful and make sure you have resources to cope with the emails and media attention. Make sure that you have a concrete sense of the goals and budgets of your project before going on Kickstarter, since you’re putting it into public eye. Crowdfunding not only allowed us to be financially independent and get proof of concept early on, it also allowed us to build a community out of the gate.
What does the future hold for 3D printing and the 3Doodler?
Tools such as the 3Doodler represent a new medium in 3D expression. This gets you closer to being able to take an image or idea from your mind and render it as a physical object in reality. If you can envision an object you can now create it. And it will facilitate the ability for us to communicate our ideas and visions to one another.
Finally, any tips for product designers considering a crowdfunding campaign?
Prepare, take your time, get it right – make sure your idea’s great, and you have the right people to launch it. The exercise of asking all the right questions up front makes the plan much easier. Don’t ask questions too late! The moment you have launched it’s very hard to correct planning mistakes.
Also, be responsive: Every backer is a key ally. They were there first. Reply to their messages, hear their comments, give them respect. They stick by your side if they do and they’ll let others know. Good communication is also a sign that you are on top of things and can execute. But at the same time, stick to your plan and keep the backer audience in perspective, you can’t change your whole app on the feedback of a few. Keep it balanced.
Image credit: 3Doodler