Beginning is always the hardest part - and this is especially true when you don’t know what the outcome will be. Uncertainty usually causes extensive amounts of planning and makes decision-making difficult. To address this problem while building new digital services, we constantly follow build-measure-learn cycle for managing uncertainty. We consentrate on validating business case, technical feasibility and collecting user insights before actually coding or building any massive systems. When defining MVP (minimum viable product), our recommendation is always finding a niche market and specific problem worth solving instead of building something for all for the first version of the product. You can read more about our Lean Service Creation process here.
This Spring, however, we did something little bit different. Together with Tampere University of Applied Sciences Media & Arts, we arranged one week crowdfunding training for students and four companies looking for funding for their creative ideas.
The teams had clear product visions, which they wanted to produce.
As described above, the typical design approach for us is to strictly focus into the end user’s problem before creating a solution proposal. However, in this case we acknowledged, that in creative projects this does not always apply. Instead, our main task was actually to find a niche market and potential customers willing to invest in the idea. In this particular project we applied LSC and Brand Design tools; teached the teams on how to build and validate business case, gather user insights, and target the campaign message and brand for the identified segment. After the training the teams started building their campaigns based on the learnings gathered.
Q: At the beginning of the training, your original idea was a documentary film about small breweries. However, during the process you decided to pivot the idea to Finnish home-brew beers (“Sahti” in Finnish). How did you come to this decision and where did you get the idea from?
In the workshop we were conducting user interviews and asked what kind of a documentary friends of small breweries would like to see. Tastes and “campfire stories” came constantly up in the interviews. Therefore we decided to focus solely on the origins of Finnish beers. We discovered the mystical Finnish home-brews, "sahti", which are full of northern exotics.
Q: How did the crowdfunding training help you to build the campaign?
Training helped us to clarify our thoughts and validate our presumptions
Q: In which channels and communities have you been marketing the campaign after the launch?
We are using Facebook as our main marketing channel, and there people can follow how the campaign and production is proceeding. In addition to this, we have been in contact with breweries to find company sponsors for the project. We launched our campaign in Tampere “Suuret Oluet, Pienet Panimot” beer festival on May 26th. We handed out fliers and filmed video greetings from beer experts. News about making the documentary has got an enthusiastic welcome within Finnish sahti community.
Q: What did you learn and what kind of advice do you have for other startups planning a crowfunding campaign?
Running a campaign is hard work and requires time and money. Gather a team for doing the marketing. We also recommend contacting potential investors in forehand, long before launching the campaign.
3 + 1 learnings and take aways for building a crowdfunding campaign:
- Build a business case for the project. This includes validating if the project is financially feasible and what is the minimum goal required for your crowdfunding campaign.
- Find your niche market. Get to know your target segment, and what are their needs and beliefs. This helps you target your campaign message. You can also pivot your idea before launching your campaign if you recognize more potential in something that you learn from interview insights.
- Campaign rewards. In crowdfunding you need to provide a reward for investors, and in Finland it is even required by a law. Good average price for a reward is around 20 - 25 €, but it is good to have vast range of rewards from 5 € rewards for people, who just want to support your cause, to more expensive 150+€ contributor rewards for enthusiasts and company sponsors.
- Choose your platform. There are several crowdfunding platforms in the market, and it depends on the platform rules and your product, which one is suitable for you. In this case the campaigns were targeted to Finnish market, but you can, for example, use this chart to choose your platform if you are targeting international or US market.
We wish Sahti documentary team all the best with their campaign. To read more about the campaign, please visit project's Mesenaatti.me campaign site and follow the project on Facebook (unfortunately only in Finnish).