Backerkit Automates Crowdfunding Fulfillment

Spring is here. Growing up in my family’s house the season signified a time for a thorough house cleaning. But it wasn’t so bad because my mom—and her unpaid labor, her kids—made sure to keep on top of things and one step ahead of a mess.

I don’t do spring-cleaning, mostly because I’m not as proactive and it would be a nightmare from which I might never emerge if I started now.

Are you running your crowdfunding campaign that way? Without a plan? Just reacting and trying to keep up? If you are, you’re in for a different kind of nightmare once your project completes and you enter the fulfillment stage. Because as time-consuming as running a crowdfunding campaign can be, you will soon come to feel that raising the money was the easy part.

Backerkit, a maker of software tools for successful project creators, has been helping them manage the process of rewards fulfillment since 2012. Now they aim to take this support to another level.

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Backerkit just announced a beta launch of its Crowdfunding Partners platform, which makes it easy for fulfillment houses, e-commerce tools, and other services to build apps for project creators. The platform gives businesses an API to plug directly into crowdfunding projects.

Fulfillrite is the first fulfillment company to sign on, and currently Backerkit supports Indiegogo, Kickstarter and Crowdtilt Open. As demand from other platforms increases they intend to expand.

What does this mean for you, project creator? I’d call it the equivalent of hiring a professional cleaning crew to clean your house, but humans are flawed; they might overlook the dust bunnies under the bed.

While there are lots of companies that have sprouted up to assist with fulfillment, an integrated solution for the crowdfunding community has been missing. Backerkit is offering a one-click, automated solution.

“A thousand paper cuts hit you after your crowdfunding campaign ends, Backerkit’s Josha Nathan says. “Every aspect of managing a project can be difficult, especially if you have several reward tiers and different combinations of rewards––the actual process of sorting through all those can be mind blowing. BackerKit automates the process and enables project creators to worry about their project rather than the complex issue of logistics. . . . It’s a much better system than sorting through spreadsheets.”

Take the issue of platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo lacking the functionality to produce good quality surveys to their backers, for example. For project creators, integrating means they can easily control the process of back and forth communication from their dashboard.

Integration also enables backers to solve minor problems on their own, so they don’t have to bug project creators with time-sucking special requests about T-shirt sizes or delivery specifications. Backers simply receive an email invite and are then taken through a simple shopping-cart experience. And since fulfillment can take months, backers can log back in and update their information at any time, up until a project creator is ready to ship rewards.

Backerkit supports project creators at various levels, from DIY tools to connecting folks with shipping companies. They also supports pre-orders, so if you missed the chance to back a project, you can easily pre-order from a project creator through BackerKit.

Significantly, Backerkit offers a reduced rate for project creators who sign up before their projects complete, as an incentive to not put off fulfillment until the 11th hour.

Nathan says, “I think it ties right into crowdfunding best practices. The most successful project creators are the people that plan ahead, and know what they are getting into. By setting up BackerKit when their crowdfunding campaign is still ongoing, they get an idea of the tools that are available to them, so they can avoid any missteps as they prepare to complete their project.”

I’d call it the difference between keeping your spring-cleaning manageable, or being buried in dust bunnies. Stay on top of your campaign and you will thank yourself later.

 

 

 

 

 

Two Good Blog for Pre- and Post-Launch Insights

Tip of the Week

There are two steps that crowdfunders seem tempted to gloss over. The first is the labor-intensive but massively beneficial pre-launch stretch that, when unattended to, can leave the unprepared in the dust.

The other is the fulfillment process. Prepping for it entails an organized and accurate assessment of costs, time, and labor commitments, and an accurate estimate for delivery.

The more due diligence and research and you conduct in these areas, the more likely you are to dodge bullets and avoidable headaches that can pound your pocketbook in equal measure.

Here are two sites whose entire reason for being is pre- and post-campaign work. Though you probably have heard of them, you may not be aware that they have logged some very informative blog posts. Often data-driven and quite granular, keep them on your radar and it will pay off. Sure, other blogs cover the pre- and post-launch intervals. But if you have a broken foot who would your rather see, a podiatrist or a general practitioner?

To continue reading, please go to my weekly Tip of the Week column on Crowdsourcing.org

Way to Pitch! 6 Tips to Pitch Like Pro

Should you hire a PR firm or go DIY? The argument rages on with Mark Cuban recently weighing in on the subject. (See rule # 11).

With the Internet providing a free means for each of us to manage and promote our own brand, the industry is trying to find its way. As a part of this, it is struggling with its reputation albeit for the wrong reason.  And let’s face it; hiring a PR firm is not cheap. Nor, the argument goes, are they necessarily overly transparent about how they spend your money. Or measure success.

It’s not my intention to wrestle the issue of value to a definitive conclusion; there are too many variables to sort through for that. What I’d like to focus on is how to be your own PR department when doing otherwise is not an option. People tend to lean on PR firms because they think they are part of a secret society, the membership of which they have been shut out. Not true! So move on.

The fact is anyone who is on the receiving end of press releases will tell you they hold all the entertainment value of nutrition facts on a box of cereal. It’s all me, me, me, and hasn’t social media instructed us to make it about you, you, you? Get with that program and you’re half way home.

Because hindsight is 20-20, case studies are so darn easy to dissect they’re practically like being handed a cheat sheet. So let’s take an example of an email that appeared in my in-box a few short days ago and how and why I was putty in the sender’s hands. (Click on message to enlarge.)

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No two ways around it, I was being pitched. But it didn’t feel like a pitch. It felt like a friendly hello from a colleague, though I’d never met the guy before. So let’s look at the elements involved and why it all worked together.

1. Read the people you want to write about you!

True story: A client recently told me she was using going to use BlogDash “to target about 100 journalists.” Seriously? One hundred journalists write on your exact topic? Maybe if you include high school newspapers and my Aunt Mary’s blog, but come on, that’s crazy. Better to target 10 solid sources whose work you truly know and admire than fire off blindly. Untargeted, uninformed pitches just make a blogger or journalist feel used, and I’m not that kind of girl.

2.  Make yourself indispensable

BackerKit has been around for a while but I hadn’t spent much time studying them. As an industry insider it’s my job to keep up on all facets of crowdfunding. So when I got this email I realized I needed him.

3. Don’t fake anything

I like how Maxwell Salzberg made me understand that he truly does read my work. How do I know? Because he’s right; I really haven’t written about fulfillment much. In this brief email he gave me information that was going to make me look good and my job easier.

4. Start with me and for heaven’s sake be brief about it

See that highlighted word in # 3? Brevity is so important. He didn’t waste precious time. “Hello, My name is XYZ is just so snoozy because your name appears on your email. When you’re busy that becomes a small irritation you try to ignore, like a bug flying around in your peripheral vision.

5. When I click on the link I want to find real value

The blog post he (or another staffer) wrote was first-rate. Informative, well written, I even clicked on each link and was not disappointed. It was a pleasure to read. Immediately my thoughts began to percolate. Given that his post was so complete, rehashing it in my own words would have been a cheat. Instead I had a wonderful opportunity to get creative: I decided to feature him as part of a larger piece. This is what I wrote.

6. Make me feel exclusive

This is a tricky one. He never told me I was exclusive but I was made to feel like he was only wooing me. The truth is that he similarly pitched CrowdFundInsider. Charles Luzar opted to repost the fantastic post verbatim; luckily I took a different approach. Charles and I have a supportive collegial relationship not combative one, so it wouldn’t have been the end of the world. But be careful with this one because journalists and bloggers and industry insiders can get pretty territorial. So if you’re mass pitching find a way to let your recipient know while still making me feel special.