By Adina Luo W’16 and Molly Liu W’16, Co-founders of Black Box Denim
We’re Black Box Denim: we do custom jeans, hand-made and delivered to your doorstep. For us, the decision to run a Kickstarter campaign was an amalgamation of a lot of considerations. Ultimately, we decided it was the right choice for us: it was an opportunity to validate a market we were not yet sure existed, and we could start building our brand right away. We raised $27,492, meeting our $25,000 goal with 122 backers. The crowdfunding learning curve is a steep one, and through our own campaign, we summarized some key lessons.
1) It’s a 24/7 job. No qualms about it.
You’ll feel the impulse to check your campaign every five minutes, but beyond that, outreach, customer support, analytics, social media, etc. takes a lot of time. Carve out that time in your schedule ahead of time; you’ll thank us later.
2) Media outreach is key, so give yourself time for a head start.
Getting some press, whether it be industry blogs, your local newspaper, or even a national outlet can make or break a campaign. Plan out your media strategy well ahead of time, and start reaching out weeks before. Starting media outreach at campaign launch is already too late.
3) Initial momentum matters a lot.
Kickstarter algorithms promote the most popular and fast-growing campaigns, which heavily weight the number of donors at the beginning of your campaign. Even if some of your friends intend to donate towards the end of the campaign, request that they do so at the beginning to swing the algorithm in your favor and garner more visibility for your campaign in the “popular” category of the Kickstarter homepage.
4) Tell your story.
From marketing to screenwriting, and every industry in between, storytelling is touted as king. The reason is because it is so incredibly important, and your Kickstarter campaign is no exception. Take the time to explain the campaign vision, your individual motivations, and where you think donors fit into it all. Organize your campaign with a sense of narrative, so as the reader scrolls, they move through your story logically. Donating to a campaign is a human experience, solidified when the donor connects to the campaign itself, and there is no better way to do that than through a strong narrative.
We (Adina and Molly that is) met our freshman year, and with the brash conviction of freshman who were just naïve enough to try, and just driven enough to try really hard hard, we decided to jump into a start-up together. Our personalities meshed, the time was right, and we had a whole summer to figure it out. We had a vision—custom jeans for all—without the prices of a bespoke tailor, and with the accessibility that only the Internet can afford. Black box Denim: we do custom jeans, hand-made and delivered to your doorstep. Our first public debut, we decided, should be our Kickstarter campaign, a process that solidified our venture and the way we approach our company overall.
If you’re interested in continuing to follow our journey – we’re launching our Black Box Denim blog! Check it out here – http://blackboxdenim.com/blogs/news.
Bio: Adina Luo is a California native, currently studying Operations and Information Management and Media Strategy at The Wharton School. As the external facing half of Black Box Denim, Adina works on marketing, business development, and communications. In the past, Adina has worked in corporate strategy at The Walt Disney Company, private equity, and for various start-ups in Beijing, China.
Bio: Molly Liu is from Ohio, but spent her childhood in China. She is concentrating in Finance and Entrepreneurship with a minor in Mathematics. Molly is the internal head of the company, and she manages design and supply chain. Before Black Box Denim, Molly was a designer, and also has experience working at Oppenheimer & Co as well as UBS. In their free time, Adina and Molly cook and watch The Mindy Project together.