Python Croatia Meetup – Zagreb (online), 8.6.2021.
(& other IT) projects
● Running a web development / data analysis agency for the last six years
○ Punk Rock Dev
● We often work with startups on building minimum viable products (MVPs)
● These startups sometimes use crowdfunding to raise funds
● Two recent examples where I was involved:
○ CloudFleet on IndieGoGo (website)
○ CraftStrom on Kickstarter (IndieGoGo rollover, website)
● Funding a project by raising small amounts of money from many people
● In short:
○ You present your idea (or better) prototype – using video, images, text, demos…
○ You ask people to pledge financial support to back your project
○ In return they get something – “perks”, often the actual product once it’s finished
○ Fixed – unless the campaign reaches a necessary amount, everything is returned
○ Flexible you keep the amount and are responsible for delivering, no matter the amount
● Most popular platforms:
● Other models exist
○ crowd investment (Conda)
○ local variants (Croinvest, Startnext)
What is crowdfunding?
What sort of product is suitable for a
What sort of product is suitable for a
1. Products that have a chance of being finished
2. Products that people might want
● Feature creep
○ What is the minimal set of features for the product to be useful to the user?
○ Is what we're working on really that vital?
○ Is something else that's not finished actually more important?
○ If this feature was never finished, would it make our product useless?
● Just because it seems fast to implement something (yay, Python!) doesn't
necessarily mean it's a good idea to do it right away
● Hardware products especially complex
○ Long feedback cycles
○ Delays with shipping, customs etc.
○ Communication barriers with the suppliers (WeChat, anyone?)
○ Bugs much more difficult to fix if products have been shipped
Case study – building a hardware webmail service
● Very complex
○ High demands on security and data protection
○ Lots of 3rd party integrations needed
■ Proxying to traverse the NAT
■ Using trusted mail servers to avoid being filtered as spam
■ Registering a domain automatically
● In retrospect, we probably could have selected an easier app
○ e.g. a team chat server
○ Launch more quickly
○ You can always extend the product later on
● Will people really want your product?
○ What is the persona you are targeting?
○ Who are they? Do a persona workshop!
○ How will they trust your product?
○ How will they find out about your product?
● The Business Model Canvas – useful tool
○ Have there been similar products?
○ Where they crowdfunded?
○ How successful were they?
○ How did they reach their audience?
○ How is your product different?
● Do your research!
Case study – testing demand and building our crowd
● Professional marketing team and well made product materials (website,
● Focused ad campaigns to measure how many people in different markets we
can take through our marketing funnel
● A measure of interest and a newsletter list of potential backers
● Pretty successful already at this stage, so we were confident going into the
What does it take to prepare
a crowdfunding campaign?
● The campaign really starts about 3 months before the actual campaign
○ Ramp up on social media
○ Growing your community
○ Newsletter signups for interested people
○ Bring your own crowd!
● The whole process of preparing all the materials, video production etc. with the
campaign can easily take one whole year
● Think through your campaign start time
○ e.g. before Christmas people are shopping more, but your ads will be more expensive (competition)
○ After New Years people have spent most of their cash, but are online more
● Leave enough time to get verified and approved by the platform
○ Kickstarter – exposure there potentially more valuable, but approval is more difficult
● Possible rollover campaign – after Kickstarter we continued on IndieGoGo, but you
can also redirect people to prepurchase in your own store
● Get professional help! – it really makes a difference
● Video production and marketing are probably the most important areas
● There are crowdfunding agencies who help you for a fee
○ We used one for a part of our campaign
○ Hard to measure how much they're really impacting the success
○ Analytics on Kickstarter very limited (e.g. no referral tracking), IndieGoGo is a bit better
● Try to set levels for all financial categories
○ Lots of people maybe want to give smaller tips, without really committing
● Keep in mind the availability if you want to allow different price tiers
○ Early bird etc.
○ Set smaller quantities of discounted perks to create a sense of urgency
Setting your goals
● Don't set your goal too high!
● Calculate what you really need to be successful, but aim to set your official
goal lower and overshoot it
● The sooner you reach your minimal goal, the better
○ People like backing successful projects
○ Not so much if you're stuck on 10% for too long and it looks like you won't make it
● If you reach your official goal, but not your internal goal you can always refund
● Famous example:
○ Pebble watch officially aimed for $100,000
○ They needed ~$3M (if I recall correctly) and were willing to refund if they got less
○ They raised over $10M in the end
(so they overshot their official goal by 100x, but their internal goal by only about 3x)
The actual campaign
● Have agreements with your friends / family on who will fund on the first day
● You want to raise about 1/3 of your official goal already on the first day from
people you know will back you!
● That way you pick up pace, gain exposure on the platform and it looks likely
you'll make it, so you attract more backers
● Have a plan of frequent updates, posts etc. during the campaign
● You want to do a bit of storytelling to keep people interested
● Time to deploy that ad and newsletter strategy you’ve been preparing
○ Test different ads, target audiences and compare against the achieved pledges
○ Keep in mind that people can still cancel their pledge before the campaign is over
● The “only” thing remaining is to actually run you business 🙂
● That’s the part of the story we’re in now with CraftStrom
● Time to set up proper customer support channels
● Transparency is important
○ Communicate any delays or hiccups
○ For the most part, people are understanding
Delivering your product
Be brave and good luck!