Run Successful Kickstarter Campaign
Slow and Steady Wins the Race is what sprang to mind when I checked in with Julia Christie after her successful Kickstarter Campaign. Remember Aesop’s Fable about the Tortoise winning the race against the hare?
If you’re thinking of running a Kickstarter campaign, you’ll find some golden tips in our latest interview with this Inspiring Mum Inventor. In case you missed it, it here’s Julia’s first interview (pre-Kickstarter).
Nail Snail Wins the Kickstarter Race
How’s your pregnancy going?
I’m at the really big, waddley stage now – 36 weeks. I’ve got one week to go ’till full term, but 4 weeks to go until due date. My first two babies were late, both of them arrived at 41 weeks, so am expecting this one to be the same.
You never know though, hey?
My hospital bags are packed. I like the little one to stay inside as long as possible because I really love my sleep.
How are you getting everything done?
Once baby’s here I want to just do the things that need doing so I’ve been doing as much as I can before baby comes. Making sure that everything is as set up as possible for when the Nail Snails arrive.
The funny thing is my first shipment of Nail Snails is actually due to arrive from China on my doorstep on the 8th May and my baby is due to arrive on the 8th May.
When I had my younger daughter, my husband and I signed the papers for our house and bought our house, on the day she was born. I think my husband had had 2 hours sleep. We were in the hospital together and he fell asleep in the chair next to me while I was having contractions. I was trying my hardest to be as quiet as possible during labour so I didn’t wake him up. (We both laugh). And then I thought, no, I’m in labour, I’m allowed to make noise.
We’ve got photos. You know where you stand in front of the SOLD sign, I’m standing holding a 2-day old baby. I’ve got this kimono over my tummy to try hide the fact that I’ve given birth two days ago. And the photographers like, “Jump”! And I’m like, “NO”!
Tell me how Kickstarter was for you, I know it must have been nail biting (excuse the pun)…
Because I’m an optimistic person and because I do everything I can to make something successful. You make your own luck, kind of thing. If you work really, really hard then luck will find you.
I was doing everything I could to try and make it go viral, to go global, to go bigger than me… you know I was pushing every day and Instagramming and social media and facebook advertising and pounding the pavement and putting posters up and calling people and doing email campaigns and I was in the newspaper. I was in the local Gold Coast paper and it went not actually only Gold Coast, but also to Sydney, Melbourne, Tasmania – it went to 5 or 6 papers around Australia.
So I was doing everything I could that didn’t cost me much money to try let as many people know as I possibly could.
So I was doing everything I could that didn’t cost me much money to try let as many people know as I possibly could.
But it just didn’t take hold. It didn’t do the viral thing. It just kind of slowly and surely plodded along until the end. I tried, but it just didn’t get that “oh look, it’s $20,000, oh look it’s $40,000…” It just didn’t do that. It just sort of scraped over the line right at the end.
If you go through the archives of Kickstarter, I think about 70% didn’t make it. (I verified this statistic. Julia was very close. Kickstarter publishes stats based on raw data. I calculated the current stats indicate 35% of campaigns have been successful). And the things that are successful are computer games, board games and watches. It’s real cutting edge technology products which do really well because Kickstarter is a very specific market when you think about it. In order to pledge on Kickstarter, you need to sign up for Kickstarter and sort of log onto another thing. I think a lot of people were interested in my product but were hesitant to join Kickstarter. I think the Kickstarter platform, as wonderful as it is and I don’t mean to be negative about Kickstarter at all, it’s an amazing platform and I wouldn’t have been able to do what I did without that avenue. But it is a very specific kind of target market in a sense. I don’t think your average Mum or average parent is an active member of Kickstarter. I’m not an active member of Kickstarter, I’ve never bought anything on Kickstarter before.
I had a lot of people saying, “I don’t really want to sign up for Kickstarter, but here, I’ll give you $10 and buy one”. And I was like, “no, sorry, that’s not really how it works at the moment”.
Yeah, true. I remember placing my pledge and I noticed there were a few things you had to do first. You had to sign up and they had to verify your card up front. At that point, I thought they would take the money off immediately so I made sure there was money available for the purchase first. The biggest problem for me was that I couldn’t pay Kickstarter via Paypal. I don’t have a credit card so I had to use a debit card and that presented some challenges. It would have been nice if they had more payment options for the global market, other than just using a credit card. I also struggled to get my payment through at the end of the campaign, but it did go through eventually, thank goodness. I was so relieved.
And I appreciate your support so much, that was so wonderful to see. I could see towards the end as well, a lot of people increased their pledges towards at the end. They had ordered just one Nail Snail and then they saw well, “aah, we need to get this Nail Snail over the finish line. I’ll increase my pledge from 1 Nail Snail to 10 Nail Snails”.
And it was really exciting. It was probably about 90% complete unknowns, people who had found Nail Snail on facebook or through online advertising or had just stumbled across me, and only 10% were friends and family. Which, to be honest, I thought normally that would be the other way around.
Casey Bunn is a woman who was running her Kickstarter campaign at the same time I was. She had the product Handsocks. We were sort of, kind of, not in competition, but we were trying to solve the same problem. She has socks, almost like mittens that you put over your children’s hands to stop kids scratching themselves, but specifically for kids in the hospital who were pulling IV lines out and that sort of thing, to stop them from injuring themselves in a way.
Whereas mine was to stop kids scratching themselves by trimming their nails, hers was to stop them scratching by putting on socks. And she had an incredibly successful campaign. She raised twice as much money as I did. Yeah, she did really, really well.
And she reached out to me and said, “Hi, I see you’re in the same position I am, we’re both doing campaigns at the same time, we’re both work-from-home Mums. How’s it all going? Is there any way I can help you? Please let me know”. And I thought, “Wow, you’re incredibly sweet and lovely.” Casey was very kind and supportive and generous. She shared the Nail Snail on her page 5000 times and I did the same for her, and we just kind of helped each other a little bit, which was really nice And she was like, “If you’re ever in the States, come for a visit,” and I was the same, “if you’re ever in Australia, come for a visit”.
So I’ve been meeting all these amazing entrepreneurs and business women so it’s just really cool. That’s been really exciting.
Casey Bunn was saying the same thing about the 90% strangers, well customers and the 10% family and friends. And she was saying she was actually quite disappointed at the lack of support from friends and family. And to be honest, I was the same. I thought Aunties and Uncles and cousins… I have quite a big extended family and I was hoping everyone would buy, you know, just one, just to kind of help out. Nope, none at all, they were very supportive of the idea but they didn’t buy any.
I thought, “Now, that’s a bit of a wake-up call”. It does have to be genuine customers and genuine people who want your product. You’re going to have to get through this and be successful based on your product being wanted by genuine customers, rather than your mates, and your family giving you a leg up.
That’s an important lesson in marketing right there.
Absolutely, and you can’t rely on your friends sharing through facebook. There might be half a dozen people that share your video or post, but it’s not going to be the 200 facebook friends that you have who’ll do all the sharing for you. It’s not up to them and don’t rely on them. It’s very much up to you.
I thought that, in itself, was an interesting little lesson to learn.
But isn’t it amazing then, when you think of the 90% who bought, that you really already have a market? And isn’t that what Kickstarter is all about, to prove to the world and should you need investors at any time, that you actually have a market for your product?
Yeah, it was very exciting to me to think that there were customers who genuinely wanted the Nail Snail. And I had people emailing me saying, “Hurry up. My child is cutting themselves, what are you going to do about it?” I’d say, “I’m really sorry…” They’d say, “No, I need it NOW”. I had one stranger who emailed me and said, “I’m coming to your house to use your samples to cut my children’s nails”. I thought, “All right, that’s a little scary, but okay…”
A friend of mine actually came over and said I haven’t cut my kids nails in months. I’ve been hanging out until I see you to get my hands on a Nail Snail. And she was like, “Give me a nail snail right now”. She has a 4-year-old little girl and a 6-month-old baby boy. And she cut both her kids’ nails in about 3 minutes. It took about 1 minute for her 4-year-old and about a minute-and-a-half for her little baby.
And she was stoked, she said, “Can I please take this one with me?” I said, “No, Darling, that’s a $600 sample, you can’t. I’m sorry.”
So here’s the million dollar question everyone will ask as soon as we publish this article – where can we buy a Nail Snail from now on?
Well, our website Nail-Snail.com is up and running. It’s live. It’s active. You can buy directly off the website.
I did have a problem right at the beginning, I didn’t realise my website was still in test mode, so I had a few sales that went through, but payment didn’t go through. So I had to write a couple of emails, saying I had teething problems, you haven’t been charged anything, if you’d like to still purchase and I really, really hope you do, please can you go back on and place your order again. I was really fortunate, every customer went through the process and ordered again.
So I hired a professional web developer and he did an amazing job. Within 24 hours the website was working perfectly. I had Mom and Dad test the system, and buy some Nail Snails, using PayPal and credit cards and all that sort of thing, and it was all working perfectly.
And now, I’ve got orders coming through on the website. People are paying the $19,95 and buying Nail Snails. Every time I get an email saying, “You’ve got order no. 15“, I go, “Woohoo!”
Okay, so they are now selling for $19,95 and you ship anywhere in the world. Do you have wholesale options on your website as well?
You can buy as many Nail Snails as you like as a Customer. If you want to buy a pack of 10 and give them to your friends, that’s fine. If you are after Wholesale options then the best way is to email me via the Contact Us page.
I’ve had some interested Wholesalers. I have a lady in Singapore who purchased through the Kickstarter Campaign. I’ve had interest from Germany, Lithuania and America.
How long does it take for people to receive their orders? You’re getting them on 8th May… how long does it take to package them and ship them out to your customers?
The Kickstarter orders, all the envelopes have been labelled and are all set and ready to go. That was all part of my “get organised” plan. So it will just be a matter of putting them in the bag and I think that while I’m breastfeeding, I can do that.
My son will help, he’s very savvy, he can help me put the Nail Snails in the packets. He’s very good that way. He can earn his keep. 🙂 I already had him sticking on the return address labels and he thought that was the most fun thing in the world. And my husband will help. It will probably take another 2-3 days of putting things in envelopes and then another day or two to get them all to the post office, and from there it will be up to Australia post and how efficient they are.
For example, postage from Australia to Canada… because my in-laws live in Canada and I’ve sent half a dozen or so packages to my mother-in-law. The last one I sent was a brooch for her birthday and it took 4 weeks to get there, other times it will take a week.
What was your Biggest High and Your Biggest Low during the Kickstarter Campaign?
The biggest high was actually launching it. All the work I’d put into Kickstarter because there’s a lot of information and graphics and design and expense that actually goes into the Campaign. Actually making the video and editing that, getting graphic designers to do all the icons and images… I wanted it to be really beautiful and look incredibly professional. I wanted to be really, really proud of it, which I was. So I think that hitting the launch button was the most exciting thing.
And also seeing orders come in from EVERYWHERE. From UK, Germany, Spain, Canada, Singapore, Tunisia, America, seeing a global reach, that was a really exciting part. That we actually reached that far, and that the Nail Snail was truly a global product. That was really amazing.
And things like, people who had previously said to me, “Oh, how’s that little project going”, or “How’s that little thingie you made, that little dinky kind of thing”. For those people to actually go, “Oh, my goodness, I had no idea it was such a genuine product, that’s beautifully made and actually in a packet and with a patent. Wow, I had no idea that it was an actual, real thing”. And I’m like, “Yeah, I’ve been telling you for the past 3 years”.
So these were friends of yours?
Well, family members more than anything else, they don’t take you seriously. And that’s the thing, as a work-from-home Mum you are not taken seriously, you are not – not in the slightest. You are put down, you are ridiculed, you are under-appreciated. People have low expectations of you.
Oh that little hobby, that little dinky thing… You know, you have no idea what I’m capable of and what I’ve achieved as a person. Raising 2 beautiful children, keeping a house going and running which is a full-time job in itself, to achieve that – to have a patent to my name on an internationally recognised product. There are very few people in this world who can actually say that. It’s like writing a novel or writing and performing an original song – it’s such an achievement, so few people can say that they’ve actually done it.
So it really makes me smile when people say, “Oh wow, this is a real thing”. “Yeah, damn right, it is”.
The best revenge is success.
Yeah, I love that quote. I think that’s a big part of Australian culture too. We’re so used to knocking people down that when we actually see… it becomes motivational for you to prove those people wrong. And I’ve still got a very, very long way to go and I’m still massively in debt. That’s just part it. It’s just part of the sacrifices we made.
I’ve been so fortunate that my husband has been so amazing, and gone, “Okay, you need an extra $200 to pay for a Patent Attorney, I’ll work that extra shift”. He’s been so, so amazing. There is no way I could have done without that support. That sort of unwavering, unquestioning, “You need $600 to pay a Graphic Designer? Okay, let’s do it”. He is a gem. He is a total gem. He is a sparkly, gorgeous, amazing gem and I love him down to his boots.
And the Lows during that time?
I guess just the Campaign not being as wildly successful as I had hoped and anticipated. That slow grinding, kind of, okay, what else can I do… is there something else I can do… and that question of, “Just keep going, you’ll get there, you’ll get there”. I actually got a heck of a lot of migraines while the Kickstarter Campaign was on because I tend to internalise stress quite a bit. Even though I didn’t outwardly look stressed I think that internally it was eating at me a bit.
And because it’s only a small product selling at $10 each – each day to try get $300 or $400, you’re looking at selling a lot of Nail Snails in one a day. That’s quite a challenge.
Once it had finished and I’d made it over that line, I couldn’t really celebrate, because I was just, “oh my goodness, finally!” So much build up, so much happening and then an anti-climax at the end.
And now it’s just onto the next step, let’s keep going. You can’t rest on your laurels. You’ve got to make sure the packaging is coming through and the display boxes are finalised and chasing up those final payments from people and getting everybody’s names and addresses.
I’ve got an Expo coming up in Sydney in November and I’m booking flights and getting accommodation, and there’s another one in Melbourne in October which I’m considering being part of. But I wanted to give myself a little bit of time because I’ll have a newborn. I must be careful not to do too much too soon and burn out.
Also I have to make sure that everything I’m doing, I’m doing really, really well. I don’t want to do anything half-hearted. I want to be prepared.
And you have to be realistic about your body healing after the birth… I may need an emergency Caesar, I don’t know. I may have trouble breastfeeding, I don’t know. My baby may have medical problems after the birth, I don’t know. So I don’t want to make all these plans and then cop out.
You sound very calm, you’re taking it all in your stride. I think you’re phenomenal.
It’s fun – I love it! I’m so passionate about it. I want every house with a baby to have a Nail Snail. And I want that for my own sake and also for every parent’s sake because it gets the job done. It makes thing easier. It works. And you don’t have to go through the hell of cutting your kids nails. This way it’s just easy, it’s not a big deal. Once you have a Nail Snail, you get your kids nails trimmed in a minute and a half. It’s just one of those things you do that takes a minute and you have to do it once a week, once a fortnight, and it’s just done.
How many Nail Snails do you have to sell to pay back everything you spent to get this far?
At the full retail price, I have to Sell 3000 Nail Snails to get back to zero. And that’s not scary to me, I think that’s an okay number.
I imagine that would take about 6 months?
Yeah, I’m thinking by the end of the year I’ll have paid everything back and be back at zero and everything from there on out will be profit. I think that’s a realistic goal, but hoping to do it before then. If you work it out, we have about 240 days left this year. Ooh, 12 Nail Snails a day, that’s actually quite a bit. Hopefully, it’s exponential growth.
It’s all still kind of slow and steady. The biggest challenge I’m facing at the moment is Distribution, understanding how different Distribution channels work and looking at Distribution agreements, looking at wholesale prices. And the external barcode on the packaging does need to be the same as the internal barcode. And all these things that I don’t know. I have no idea how they work.
I feel I have to make sure I can run a successful, profitable business that I can manage first rather than expanding too big too quick and just toppling over.
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