Gadget Flow Podcast Episode 15 – Salvador Briggman of CrowdCrux

On this week's podcast, we sat down with Salvador Briggman of CrowdCrux on the secrets to create successful crowdfunding campaigns.

Can you give us a snapshot into who you are and what you do?

Salvador: My name is Sal or Salvador; I’ve been in the industry, the crowdfunding industry since 2012. Got started with blogging and basically I was doing as many econ thesis, comparing different categories on Kickstarter and trying to like get into the crux of why is it that these campaigns were getting wildly funded. You’re seeing some projects getting six figures, seven figures, it seemed just insane that that amount of money can be raised for a project and then product isn’t even created yet, it’s just to go out there and fund it. I was basically blogging on this topic, my blog started to become more popular, I then started to branch unto other stuff like my podcast (Crowdfunding Demystified). On that show I interview entrepreneurs getting into what’s working for them on Kickstarter. I also now have a YouTube channel. I’ve written six books which are available on Amazon and various sub-topics within crowdfunding. It´s honestly just been a labor of love for me. I love educating; I love also talking with entrepreneurs and coaching people. It’s been something that´s been a passion for me but I also just learned so much when it comes to marketing and online sales. It’s wild; I’m learning literally something like every single week, learning something new.

What was your career or story before getting into crowdfunding?

Salvador: So my career was eating pizza as a college student. My website crowdcrux.com, that’s the blog that sort of started it all and I literally launched this my junior year of college. It was just honestly doing it for fun; I was doing as many econ thesis, like I was saying. I was studying the different categories on Kickstarter, there’s film, there’s dance, there’s theater, there’s design products, there’s technology products and my sort of thesis behind that was that, I think that the variables that affect success are going to be different in the film category versus if you have more of an entrepreneurial technology gadget or gizmo. I sort of went into this trying to study that and I had this idea that if you’re in the technology category maybe you can get strangers to actually back you on Kickstarter versus if you’re doing something like a theater project or a film project, it’s probably going to come more from your social network. Basically, before I launch the blog I was studying that, I was also learning about economics. I was really trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life and what I was passionate about, because obviously I could have gone into a like a traditional kind of job, I could have gone to a grad school or something like that, but it didn’t feel right to me because I was learning about all these new business concepts. I was seeing people blow up on YouTube and people starting podcasts and blogs and I’m like “wow, that sounds so cool, that sounds really interesting to me.” I was just pretty much in the discovery phase, but before that I had done other stuff like we built websites, and apps for clients when I was in college, so I did that on the tech side, also working on the sales side. I’ve done a ton of writing in my life, whether it’s my high school e-mail blog or just writing for the blog that I started and other ones since then. It was a lot of discovery; a lot of writing and also just soul searching of what it is that I was passionate about.

Do you have any entrepreneurs or people who inspire you or who you admire?

Salvador: Right now I definitely have some, Grant Cardone, I love that guy, he’s a YouTuber, he also does sales training. I love Russell Brunson, he’s a great info marketer. It’s really difficult I think to, if you look back in your life, you look at these different people that you’ve been following. I’ve even known people who say that they follow me and look up to some of the stuff that I’m teaching with the podcast or on CrowdCrux and they sort of change over time. The people that I was interested in at that time, I was more interested in people doing technology startups. Things like Peter Thiel or Paul Graham, these people basically building software, because I thought that was what I might be interested in, but then I sort of discovered this whole other vein where people actually creating physical products online and using crowdfunding to get the word out there. Then I started to get really interested in that, and what I realized was there’s actually no one out there sharing education on this. So I was looking at some of these other experts in different industries, you know people like Grant Cardone, or people like Russel Brunson, or other experts, Tim Ferriss etc., I’m like “what if I actually started to get the best practices and sort of discover those for this industry.” And I started to share that, and what kind of impact could that have on people. So those were the germ I guess of the idea for what I do now. Definitely I looked up to lots of people along the way. Even, honestly some of my students now, I look up to them because they’re doing amazing stuff. I had a student raise over $300,000 in Kickstarter, I’m like “man, that is epic!” And I saw it go from the beginning of having this prototype, to raising money – it’s just profound to me. I think you can get inspiration from a lot of sources it doesn’t necessarily have to be like some expert in the industry.

What is the worst piece of advice you hear about crowdfunding and you would like to debunk?

Salvador: That’s a good question! I do also think that while it is still the “wild west,” we’re definitely getting into a lot more of these proven practices. One of the things I love to do on the podcast or the reason why I have people on the Crowdfunding Demystified show like continually every single week is, we have to always get what’s working right now on Kickstarter. I think there’s a lot of good advice out there, and there’s also a lot of not so great advice out there. I guess one of the things, the question being, what is a major thing or a major mistake? Can you restate that again?

Crowdfunding tips from Salvador Briggman of Crowdcrux

Crowdfunding tips from Salvador Briggman of Crowdcrux

Common advice that you hear thrown around that’s not helpful, or not going to help you get your campaign off the ground, just something that is thrown around a lot that you’ve seen that it doesn’t work.

Salvador: Ok, that’s a good one! So one of the misconceptions that I had going into the industry was that you basically just need a big social media following in order to get funded on Kickstarter, or Indiegogo, or with another crowdfunding website. You see these people that have massive Instagram followings, or massive Twitter followings, or on Facebook, or whatever and you think “wow, that’s all I need, to have this crowd in order to get funded.” But the thing is there’s actually this disconnect because people who do have a lot of social media followers on the Facebook fan page or likes, it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s going to convert into funding for their campaign. So a lot of the times, when we’re getting started we think “I have to build up my social media following.” But that’s actually not true. You actually have to understand what sources drive pledges to Kickstarter campaigns and also why it is that people back these. There’s actually a hidden step that you have to do in the meantime, if you do have a social media following already, that you can use to get people to actually back your project. So I’d say that’s a really big misnomer out there when it comes to these campaigns.

If you don’t have a big social campaign, what are some steps you should take?

Salvador: I talk about this a lot in the Kickstarter Launch Formula; this is a book that I wrote I think about a year and a half ago, I continually update it, in the Kickstarter Launch Formula we get into the practices that actually get people to take action even if you have a “small crowd” or a small social media following. What I see the mistake being is that people are always thinking “I don’t have access to enough people,” or “I need to build up this social meeting or this crowd of people.” Instead what you want to be doing, is you want to focus 100% on building an e-mail list prior to your launch. If you already have a social media following you’re trying to get basically your followers onto that pre-launch e-mail list. Here’s why: it’s because e-mail has a much higher conversion rate than any other channel out there. If you have 1,000 people on an e-mail list, more of those people are going to become buyers or backers of your campaign, than if you had 1,000 followers on Twitter, or a 1,000 Instagram followers, or likes on your Facebook page. The secret here is, if you have a small crowd, first of all you want to get as many as those people onto a pre-launch e-mail list as possible, and then you can into maybe scheduling e-mails leading up to that launch later, that’s the number one. The number two is you want to be using things like Facebook Ads or using other techniques to get people on and to build that e-mail list prior to your launch, and that’s really going to be the best bang for your buck, if you will. That’s going to be the most effective way to get funding if you have a small crowd.

What would you say are the top one or two things to focus on in your pre-launch campaign when you’re building out a crowdfunding campaign?

Salvador: I think there are definitely the obvious ones. You obviously need a good pitch video, you need compelling reward tiers, you need to have good copywriting, those are more like the obvious ones. The not so obvious ones are: there’s a funding trajectory. And this sort of goes back to some of the stuff I haven’t covered. There’s a funding trajectory for every single campaign and obviously not every campaign is the same, but a lot of them follow this one trajectory where most of the pledges come within the first three to four days of your campaign and then it sort of pitters off. This happens a lot, people will basically be like “I feel like my campaign is stalling,” “I feel like I don’t know what to do, I don’t know how to maintain momentum.” And they see there’s a lull in pledges in the middle of their project, and it can be really fear inducing because it’s like “what do I do now?” A traditional trajectory looks like, in the first three, to four, to five days of the project you’re seeing a big influx in pledges. In the middle, there’s what we call the “Kickstarter slump of death.” At least that’s what I call it. Then at the end you also see a big uptake in pledges because of the urgency, the fact that a campaign is going to be live for certain amount of time and after this point people are not going to be able to pledge to it. So you see an uptake in the beginning and an uptake at the end. What I really recommend, number one, is that you plan for that middle period. What are you going to do to maintain momentum and to maintain interest? We can get into that if you want, different strategies whether that’s PR, or influencers, or Facebook Ads, or etc., stretch goals, add-ons. There are a lot of ways that you can maintain this interest, but I would say that that’s a really big thing to focus on before you go live. The second is when it actually comes to telling that story. I think a lot of people that aren’t familiar with crowdfunding, they think of it as trying to sell something online. And while it’s true, there’s this sales component. A lot of it also has to do with you and your story, because people connect with other human beings, people aren’t actually going to buy a random product if they’ve never heard of it before. You really need to think about the story that goes behind that product, who it’s right for, and also how they can identify with some of the use cases there. So maybe even, sometimes the founder is the best customer, not always, but you’re sharing a bit of that founder’s story. Why is it they wrestled with this problem for maybe years on end, or months on end, before they came up with a solution? How many iterations did they go through? Whether all of the things that they had to go through in order to bring this now to you? Those are two, I think, really big things that just aren’t covered very much. Of course, like I said, the basic stuff like video, etc. but those are definitely two major ones.

What are some things you can do to make sure your campaign doesn’t fizzle out after the first 72 hours of being live?

Salvador: I would definitely say the first one is becoming educated. Anyone listening to the show right now: you’re literally in the right place, this is exactly what you should be doing leading up to your project. So many people do not do this, they fail to prepare, this sort of catches them off guard. I would say one of the easiest things that you can do is to bake in events. Events could be things like maybe doing media stories, having media outreach before having the story go live. PR, that’s one component of it. Another is doing things like Facebook Ads; there are different companies, Facebook Ad companies. You can also buy services; you can use things like the Gadget Flow, other ways to tap into audiences. You can network with influencers, you can throw parties; there are a lot of different ways to do it. I think from a more functional standpoint, you can also do things like stretch goals. Having a stretch goal where, if you reach a certain funding amount, then this goal is unlocked and maybe a new color, or a new version, a new type and alteration of the product that you’re offering, now is available to all of the backers. Other stuff you can do, you can launch a new reward tier, you can have add-ons, different ways to increase that funding amount. I like to think of it also as finding excuses to talk about your project, so you can do things like live streams, Q&A, you can do things like we’re celebrating this milestone “we already got to $25,000 now, we’re now shooting for $50,000.” And you can sort of celebrate these different milestones that you’re going through and in that way you have an excuse to talk about your project even more. Of course other stuff, doing media mentions, like going on podcast just like this. I had many guess that come on my show, Crowdfunding Demystified, that are in the middle of their project and the reason is to get the word out, they’ve already successfully hit their goal but they’re looking to maintain that momentum. It’s really just thinking of “how can I get more attention to this?” and also “what are some of the ways that I can also with some skin in the game, like spending money with my advertising budget, get more eyeballs on the project?”

Where do you see crowdfunding five years from now?

Salvador: That’s a really good question! I think there are different types of crowdfunding. What we’re talking about right now is Kickstarter and Indiegogo, launching projects into the world and raising money that way. I think that’s something that’s very different than raising money for the arts, or raising money for if you’re producing a podcast, using something like Kickstarter’s Drip, or Patreon. There’re other types of crowdfunding out there also, like GoFundMe, so there are many different forms of crowdfunding, that’s just scraping the surface. I would say that when it comes to entrepreneurs raising money for a product that they’re going to create, sort of doing a prelaunch for it in that way, I think we’re going to continue to see a lot of innovation coming from these different platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, because just recently looking back at the last two years, so many of the innovations that came into the world came from crowdfunding. Things like the Oculus Rift. That’s mainstream now, VR (virtual reality), Facebook bought them like of $2 billion dollars and they starter on Kickstarter. Cards Against Humanity, something that you and I, our age demo loves to play sometimes if you’re having a social gathering, that came from Kickstarter. Other stuff like the Pebble watch, that influenced now people creating Apple watches and other technology that’s now more sophisticated. I think that this is really just the beginning of crowdfunding and we’re going to see more and more projects coming to light. I’ve had some of my students more recently that are working on different exercise equipment, things that they’re creating to make use of maybe some exercises that aren’t as mainstream, like using a ballet bar, an at-home ballet bar. That’s not something that you would normally think of when you go to the gym, but there’s this whole cohort of people out there that are fascinated with this type of working out. I think what crowdfunding does is sort of democratizes that, and it allows people to find their crowd also online, people that care about supporting this type of project, and care about seeing this exist in the world. I honestly believe that is going to continue to grow a lot in the future and it’s becoming so much more sophisticated nowadays. The actual practices, the proven techniques that go into funding these different projects, that’s my view on it.

Is there anything you’d like to leave the audience with, anything that stands out to you as being important in making your crowdfunding campaign a success?

Salvador: 100%. I’ll share one thing, but before I do, for those of you who are interested in getting more information, if you understand the value of preparation and education, I put together a link for you guys today. If you want to join this free course which goes through a lot of these different things like social media, like how you actually build your e-mail list, how do you get PR, all of that kind of stuff. I set this up for you guys on my website at crowdcrux.com/crowdfunding. You just enter your e-mail there and you’ll join my free course. I’ll start sending you emails, you can also reply to those, I’m a real person, happy to answer you there. A lot of the stuff we’re talking about I expand on that in that course. In addition to that, I think that you really have to examine yourself and the resources that you have available because we all know that I’m good at some stuff, but I not good at everything. Some entrepreneurs are really great maybe in the marketing side or really great in the invention side, but they’re not so good at doing other stuff, like understanding how crowdfunding works, or understanding how to put together an effective video. The first thing I would do is, I would really asses where you stand, what resources do you have access to, who can help you with this project, can you bring on team members, really what are your strengths. And then thinking a little bit about those weaknesses and how am I going to basically compensate for those. I think that a lot of the students that I have, they’ll set aside a launch budget and this is kind of different, it’s very kind of awkward feeling I think, because when you’re thinking of crowdfunding, you’re like “OK, I need to get funding. I need to get funding for this new dream or this project.” But what it’s turned into is that so many of these successful campaigns out there, they’re very professionally done, they have a launch budget which they use to do things like buy ads, which they use to hire a video studio, which they use to hire consultants and people to help them out. In order to compete nowadays you actually need to create a launch budget and you need to almost approach this as an event that’s happening. While yes, you’re looking to get funding, this is about a lot more than funding, it’s about getting the word out there about you, it’s about getting the word out there about your brand, about your company, about having your initial group of customers you can sell products to later, you can also get feedback on the prototype, you can discover retailers and people who can partner with you in the future. It’s about a lot more than funding. The number one thing I would say is to have that long term vision and in order to make that happen you have to do things like being willing to assemble a team, being willing to create that budget, being willing to seek out mentors and people that can help you along the way. That’s the biggest way I think that you can improve your success rates beyond doing things like validating your product or making sure that this is something that the people want.

Where can people stay up to date with you and connect with you online?

Salvador: Good question! If you’d like to listen to podcasts I would go and check out my Crowdfunding Demystified. I also have the audible version of the Kickstarter Launch Formula, if you like listening in the car or on the way to work. If you’re more of a, like to watch people, YouTube – I have a channel out there, you can just look up my name, Salvador Briggman, and my blog is CrowdCrux. I would say the number one thing is, I find that it’s very overwhelming going into one of this launches, it’s extremely overwhelming and there’s so many different information sources. The reason why I wanted to put together that link for you guys is because it goes really step by step through this process in a much more bite size way. You can also respond to my e-mails or leave a comment on the video that I share with you. That link crowdcrux.com/crowdfunding, I really designed that to make this more digestible in a much more easy way, so you don’t feel like you’re overwhelmed or like “man, I don’t really know what to do” or “this one guy is saying e-mail list, the other guy is saying to build up your social following, which should I follow?” It can get really confusing I think, that’ll be my recommendation there.

For more such interesting podcasts on crowdfunding, marketing, product placement, and everything in between, subscribe to the Gadget Flow podcast now.

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Meet Alex Sugg

Alex is a content creator living in New York City.

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