If you’re preparing for a crowdfunding project, it’s likely that you’re very focused on your project itself – the pictures, video, platform, rewards, etc., etc., and you should be.
But you should also be focused on manufacturing. Much more focused, in fact, if you don’t already have it ironed out.
After having completed many crowdfunding projects ourselves, we’ve come to realize that the crowdfunding itself is only about 10% of the work, and fulfillment is 90%. Below we’ve outlined a few things to keep in mind as you’re preparing to fulfill a campaign.
If you’re producing a physical thing, some of the units you produce won’t be good enough to ship. We know of some people who Kickstarted a wallet and had the manufacturing done by a local textiles manufacturer who’s been in business for 50 years. A couple weeks after shipping, they began to get angry emails from a few backers with pictures like this attached:
The stitching was coming undone due to terrible quality production on the manufacturer’s part. They sent out replacement wallets, but it cost them twice as much as it should have for each of these defective wallets.
This can be especially devastating if all of your units are bad. The solution is to get samples made, and, where possible, to produce a few, then inspect and make corrections, then produce a few more and inspect, until your production is firing on all cylinders.
2. Late Backers
A small percentage of your backers won’t fill out the survey with their shipping address for weeks or months, then one day long after you thought you were done, you’ll get an email saying “You received a new response to your survey,” and your backer will expect their reward to be shipped immediately. We finished a campaign four months ago, shipped all rewards out three months ago, and to this day, four months later, occasionally get an email saying that someone filled out the survey, often accompanied by an email from that person a day later saying, “I never got my reward.” This is both inconsiderate and ridiculous, of course, but it happens, so be prepared for it.
3. Mail Issues
A small percentage of the rewards you ship will never arrive. Mail gets lost, especially international mail. In addition, some of your backers will have made mistakes in their addresses, so you’ll have a few returned due to insufficient or incorrect addresses, so plan on having a few extra rewards around to be able to cover this.
Keeping these points in mind should help you mitigate much of your production risk and be able to be a hero to your backers.