Is Your Dream Worth Realizing? A Checklist

Tip of the Week

Like most of us whose minds tend to dream up ideas for products and services, or have alternate points of view that we believe will make the world in some way a better place, we also have to beware not to run too far with our brilliant idea before we make sure it’s as original as it appears to have been when we thought it up in the shower or in the middle of the night as we groped for our bedside pad of paper and pencil in the dark. (Phew, that was a long sentence!)

I  came across a campaign today called Quell. It’s a pain-relief wearable device.

I thought it was worth highlighting it because to dissect it is to understand why it’s doing so well. It reads like a due diligence checklist. In other words, these people did their homework but more than that they have a great idea. So I invite you to check out the campaign and look at the video, which I’ve embedded below.

Based on their campaign, I’ve assembled a checklist. Here are some questions to ask yourself before your brilliant mind carries you away into the crowdfunding space. These guys will help you understand where and what makes your concept work and how.

FYI, I have no investment of any kind in them except my kindred hatred of pain.

Is your idea itself in considerable demand?

Who wouldn’t honestly do just about anything to avoid physical pain? Pain sucks. Pain debilitates. Pain is eating up an enormous percentage of the population 24/7, at least in part due to our stressed-out lifestyles, our unhealthy relationships to work, and the physical, mental, and emotional fallout from all our shiny technology. Oh, and our terrible eating habits.

Excuse the expression but this campaign touches on a vital pain points that pretty much all of us made of flesh and blood have some negative relationship with. That’s not to say that everyone will jump on the idea of this device but enough will because of personal experiences with pain.

(Okay, I just broke ankle so I know from pain. I will speak more on THAT topic once I’ve wrapped my head around the fact that the break is real; it’s not going to go away for a few months no matter how much I wish for it to, or search for some sort of supranatural rewind button.)

Does your idea or product cause no harm and does it really put the benefits to the audience front and center?

That may seem like a no-brainer yet many campaigns lack that crucial selling point. It’s not enough that you think your idea is so amazing; show us why we will think your idea is so amazing. And I mean really show–and tell. Don’t kid yourself with I’m-center-of-the-universe attitude—an unfortunate side effect of just how easy it is to get your name out there via social media. I see too many campaigns that think this is an effective tactic. Go figure.

One of the great selling points Quell provides is that the delivery system is 100% drug free. This is important because people care about staying healthy—and they care about getting healthy without the use of nasties like Oxycontin. Don’t get me wrong, right now Oxycontin is my friend but the drawbacks are severe, and if you’ve got a chronic pain problem it should not be an option…And yet there are not many better options, so this makes Quell sound extremely attractive.

Do you just want to take the money and run?

Lots of campaigns do. But Quell is not only ready to provide its first-generation device; they are also looking to you to help them improve the product. Yes, this is a smart move for them, and it’s hopefully not at your expense if the product proves ineffective, but I think it’s an attractive risk worth taking when you weigh it in the balance of all the work they’ve done so far.

Additionally, and just as importantly, Quell is using crowdfunding in beneficial ways that you should consider when you toss your idea around, thinking about throwing your own hat in the ring: by getting user feedback they will be able to produce a next-generation product that’s even better. Add that to the fact that their success will be enough proof of concept to attract other types of investment, and this diminishes what I just now thought of as “crowdfunding welfare.” It’s not meant to be that.

So make sure your campaign provides a larger service beyond grabbing the dough and leaving us to hope for the best. It will be different for every campaign but please make it a part of your thought process.

Can you support your idea with compelling statistics?

Those that really find success, in crowdfunding and on the internet in general, are those that can exert their expertise by providing quantifiable evidence of a need and then backing it up with an idea or product that effectively suggests it can address those needs. Quell weaves those into the video and narrative and punctuates it with all the media support they’ve already garnered, which is a kind of statistic in itself:  “Wired,” “Entrepreneur,” and “Bloomberg” and many more publications thought enough of it to write it up.

Does your idea have any type of standard against which it can be held up in order to support viability?

Considering all the concern over fraud, the fact that Quell is able to say the FDA cleared it for takeoff is great. As crowdfunding backers become more and more savvy, and perhaps experienced a burn or two, some sort of credentialing is going to be important. Again, this will be different is all cases.

Here’s an example, of how a filmmaker might gain credibility if they are a newbie and have no past films as evidence of their talent:

  • Former students can get their professors to vouch for them with a testimonial
  • You can ask a mentor who has a good reputation in the film industry
  • If you’ve worked for a highly successful filmmaker, as a gaffer or second AD, see if they wouldn’t give you the thumbs up to burnish your campaign.

Above doesn’t come close to itemizing all that you should be asking yourself before you launch what you think is your good idea. And if you do the exercise honestly and fail to live up to your newly developed high standards, so be it! That’s good information. There’s still hot water in the shower and keep that notepad on the night stand and you’ll get there in time.

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