3 Reasons Why Purggo Failed to Raise $100,000

Purggo is a new brand I co-founded in early 2014.

It’s mission is to help people breathe healthy and live happy, by creating natural, safe, and effective air purifiers using bamboo charcoal.

Our recent successful Kickstarter campaign raised over $40,000, which is more than enough for us to get the business off the ground. Our team is super excited and committed to be bringing this product to market.

However, the campaign did not reach my personal target of $100,000, despite months of planning.

Here’s why.

AUDIENCE MISMATCH

This seems so clear in hindsight, yet amidst the pre-launch excitement, wishful thinking, and mental masturbation, my mind seemed to have conveniently shelved away this critical factor. Despite thinking I was fully prepared, part of me was just hoping.

Our product’s ideal customer is female, between the age of 28 to 40, has a family and pet, and with an annual household income greater than $50,000. Very similar to Care2’s reader demographic, which you can see below:

Purggo demographic
On the other hand, Quantcast’s analysis of Kickstarter.com’s traffic shows that approximately 75% of visitors are male. See below:

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This isn’t a surprise. Kickstarter, especially the DESIGN category, is dominated by guys. Just look at the most funded projects, such as the Coolest Cooler, Pebble, and Kano – they’re all tailored for dudes.

If a project receives strong initial support and gets popular, a great portion of the pledge can come from Kickstarter itself.

Purggo did get popular thanks to our friends’ support, and was one of the top 5 most popular design projects for 3-4 days. Unfortunately it lost momentum because it didn’t resonate with the largely male dominated audience.

*Lesson*

It’s super important to know who your target audience is and whether they’re on Kickstarter or not.

Duh, right?

But as an entrepreneur I often get so caught up in my own ideas and plans, that I consciously or unconsciously turn a blind eye to the simple, but emotionally difficult tasks and decisions. I suspect I’m not the only one.

Can Kickstarter work if your product is targeted at women? Absolutely, but you need to tweak your launch strategy.

This time, our focus was to get explosive support at the beginning, put the project in front of Kickstarter’s EXISTING community, and letting the rest take care of itself. In retrospect, I should’ve spent more time building a support base of women OUTSIDE of Kickstarter, and driving them to the campaign page.

MEDIA COVERAGE

I had wrongly assumed that our media strategy was solid. Within 48 hours of launch, Purggo was featured on both TreeHugger and Inhabitat. These publications are the “New York Times” of green- and sustainable-living category. I had spent months building relationship with them, and assumed that if they covered our product, other blogs will follow.

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Well, that simply wasn’t the case. The coverage that I had expected from other blogs didn’t come, despite reaching out to them.

There are some uncertainty as to why this is the case, some potential reasons include:

  • They just weren’t interested in the product
  • Most blogs that cover Kickstarter campaigns are tailored toward men (remember that 75% male demographic)
  • They didn’t like me, or my message, or our product

The list can go on. It’s really hard to say.

However, what I can control is to hustle harder and build relationships with more journalists ahead of time.

*Lesson*

Do not assume that just because one or two major publications cover your project, others will automatically follow. It’s important to build relationships with as many journalists as possible – they’ll probably give you kickass feedback on your product too.

It’s also worth noting that just because a blog is big, it doesn’t necessarily mean the visitors it sends to your Kickstarter campaign will convert to sales. Without going into details, we saw that smaller websites with more relevant or passionate readers lead to greater pledge numbers than much bigger publications.

PRODUCT DESIGN

Steve Jobs famously said “people don’t know what they want until you show it to them”.

The only problem is we don’t have Steve Jobs on our team. User feedback helps. A LOT.

This time, our design process was largely based on intuition. We didn’t ask for much design feedback from our early supporters. Now, you don’t need to listen to every single feedback you get, otherwise you’ll end up with a product that’s average and boring in every way. You can’t make everyone happy. But with that said, it’s still important to LISTEN for feedback.

A good example of this is the Coolest Cooler project on Kickstarter. At the time of writing, it’s the most funded project on Kickstarter at over $13 million dollars. Holy #@$@!

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It turns out the project failed to reach it’s funding goal of only $125,000 the first time around.

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Based on the feedback he got, the project creator tweaked the cooler design, improved his campaign page message, and re-launched in the summer when coolers are on everyone’s mind. The result? $13 million dollars.

*Lesson*

It’s important to get user feedback as early as possible. A simple tweak here and there could mean the difference between a failure or mediocre product and a mega success. The goal is to get it to resonate with your target audience, and that’s pretty hard to do without feedback. Unless of course, you’re Apple.

THE FUTURE

The thing I love about entrepreneurship is I can make mistakes without having to worry about getting fired. We’re already working on the next product, and you can bet I will be applying many of the lessons learned from the Purggo campaign.

Rock on Freedom Fighters.