Exploding Kittens, a card game from Elan Lee, Shane Small, and the Oatmeal’s Matthew Inman, wrapped up its record-breaking Kickstarter campaign with a total of $8.78 million dollars raised.
The campaign more than doubled the previous record (held by Reading Rainbow) for the number of backers, finishing with nearly 220,000; it is also the third most funded campaign on Kickstarter, behind only the Coolest Cooler and the Pebble smartwatch.
As is typically the case with crowdfunding campaigns, the bulk of the money came at the beginning and at the end of the month-long campaign.
The card game itself is very intuitive. The objective: don’t draw the exploding kitten card from the deck. There are other cards in the deck that allow players to do things like skip a turn, look at the cards coming up in the deck, and more. A single deck has four kittens, so up to five players may participate. In a nutshell, that’s it. But it’s the straightforward gameplay and Inman’s popularity that ultimately proved to be a successful combination for Exploding Kittens, drawing in hundreds of thousands of supporters.
“On the very first day of this campaign, we hit our funding goal. That was a big deal,” wrote the game’s creators in an update. “But after that, the campaign stopped being about money, and started being about a community. We decided that everything we did from that point on would be to celebrate you guys, and help you celebrate each other. In the last 30 days, you’ve broken a lot of records, but we wanted to highlight our favorite one: you made this the most fun Kickstarter to run of all time.”
The next step of the process is to actually get the game made and shipped to backers. In a Reddit AMA, the creators were frank about the difficulties this entails, especially given that the projected delivery month is July — five months away. To help make the process as smooth as possible, the team is partnering up with the folks over at Cards Against Humanity (CAH).
“We’ve been talking to Elan from the beginning about how to produce the game in a memorable and excellent way, and if there’s one thing we’re good at, it’s making a lot of dumb stuff and getting in the mail… I think we’re in a good position to take on the biggest Kickstarter project in history! But also I’m a little terrified,” wrote CAH’s Max Temkin in a Reddit comment.
Indeed, the sheer scale shouldn’t be too much of a problem for CAH, who currently hold the top five spots in Amazon’s Best Sellers in Toys and Games rankings. But putting out a new product always carries with it the potential for errors, which can cause the process to take longer than expected.
Those who haven’t backed the campaign will have to wait to be able to order (or pre-order) their own deck, as the game’s creators are focusing first and foremost on delivering the cards to the Kickstarter faithful and haven’t yet figured out how they’ll proceed after they get all the cards out to the backers.
“We don’t have a retail plan yet,” Lee wrote. “We made a promise to more than 200 thousand people to ship them this game. That’s our highest priority right now.”Read More →
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Editor’s Note: Thinking about starting a crowdfunding campaign but don’t know where to begin? Check out the advice column below from Rose Spinelli, a crowdfunding campaign consultant who runs The Crowdfundamentals and was named as a top 100 crowdfunding thought leader. Rose is answering questions from the crowd about raising cash via rewards-based crowdfunding. You can submit your own questions to Rose via tweet, Facebook or Google Plus comment, or leaving it in the comments below. You can find her previous tips here.
The question, via Twitter:
Andrew Heard: Hey Rose, thanks for the info on crowdfunding for an event. Can you speak about the importance of launch parties and themes next?
Throwing launch parties is an underutilized crowdfunding strategy. Maybe that’s because crowdfunding happens online and face time can seem antithetical to that. Plus, by definition, it’s going to be local. But ignoring the idea is a missed opportunity, it’s great that you’re exploring this option.
Live events can technically serve as “soft launches,” with your friends, family and supporters getting the kind of buy-in you want right out of the gate. Moving forward in your campaign, this could be crucial to garnering endorsements from invitees’ circles, perhaps even providing the kinds of introductions to influencers that are so coveted in crowdfunding.
I know Heard from LinkedIn groups and on social media so contacted him for more deets.
Here’s how he further elaborated on his question:
I’m wondering about the logistics and/or problems of throwing a physical launch party. For example, is it better to throw a free party to shore up personal connections or throw a party with a price and use the money to make the campaign better?
Free vs. paid entry?
I definitely would not charge to attend. People might interpret a door charge to be their contribution, or just feel that they’ve already done their part. The idea is to lure and excite. So while you should try to get as much donated as possible, make sure to plan a line item in your budget for food and beverage costs, party space, if necessary — and anything thing else you might plan to keep the proceedings fun while keeping the promotion of your campaign front and center all the while. And if you get the word out to local reporters and bloggers, offering free canapés and cocktails just may tip the scales in favor of attendance.
The other potential landmine of a door charge is how exactly to apply that money you receive at the party to your campaign. Sure, you could tack it on to your total take, but you would likely be collecting cash or checks, right? If so, you won’t be able to add it towards your crowdfunding campaign goal because platform rules don’t allow project creators to contribute to their own campaigns, which is essentially how it would look to the platform if you, say, pocketed the cash and checks and used your personal credit card or Amazon or PayPal accounts to cover it. That’s a no-no.
Best of both worlds?
One fun thing you can consider doing, however, is to project your live campaign from your computer and offer folks an opportunity to sign in as themselves, pull out their own credit cards and contribute on the spot! You could make it a fun countdown kind of thing. (Think fundraising a là PBS or NPR.)
Heard also added:
I’m looking into partnering with a charity for the launch parties and possibly the campaign itself to give charitable tax receipts for the tickets, etc. but I’m worried about the effect it might have on my core supporter’s ability to contribute to the actual campaign.
Who cashes in?
We’ve already established you shouldn’t charge for your launch party so you won’t be able to offer charitable tax receipts. (And in my opinion, people don’t go to fundraising events just to nab a tax receipt.)
I happen to know that Heard’s project is an inspirational web series in which Heard plays a superhero who gives to charities through crowdfunding, which is great. But even so, this is your night, and it is in your charities’ best interest to support your efforts so that through your success you can help raise money for them in the future. So the money should go into your coffer and your charities, if representatives attend, should be fundraising on your behalf that night.
Here’s a cautionary tale: You’ll want to carefully read your platform’s guidelines to make sure you are abiding by its rules or risk being shut down.
A while back I wrote a blog post that involved a filmmaker who held a live event. He’d invited a local politician who decided to attend because the filmmaker was Latino, as was the politician, who wanted to speechify about how great it was that a young Latino was finding great success in his industry.
Except Kickstarter clearly states that project creators cannot endorse political parties. The filmmaker insists he did not endorse the politician, and whether this was the reason the campaign was shut down remains a mystery — because Kickstarter stayed mum, as they can be maddeningly wont to do. You can read the whole sad story here.
The moral of that story is, Keep your eyes open (and your nose clean by the platforms’ standards) and not only can you hope for a great campaign kickoff but some potentially lucrative ripple effects.Read More →
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