Sink or Sell Episode 1 - The Intersection of Crowdfunding & Retail

5th April 2017

In the very first Hardware Massive podcast episode, Matt and Elise interview Kate Drane, the senior director of outreach for tech and hardware at Indiegogo. Drane has been at the hugely popular crowdfunding platform since 2012, and she feels she’s personally helped more than 500 entrepreneurs collectively raise more than $70 million using Indiegogo’s services. The most important part of the job in her eyes? Making access to entrepreneurial resources easy for everyone who happens to have an innovative idea.

The segue from crowdfunding to retail can be a harrowing project for many start-up entrepreneurs. However, with proper planning and help from platforms such as Indiegogo, Kate proves the process is not as intimidating as it first seems. She points out that, yes, having a successful crowdfunding campaign and a successful life on retail shelves are two entirely different things, but combining both to create a sustainable company most certainly can be done, especially as access to the tools needed to create a physical product becomes more widely available.

When aiming toward retail as a path forward after crowdfunding, it’s important to keep several things in mind. Think of what retailers you’d like to target and then what those retailers are looking for, while simultaneously keeping your margins in mind. Where is the retailer located in regards to your target audience? How will they market and represent your brand? It’s also smart to keep pricing competitive, and this can best be done after speaking with someone in the retail business on how to price your product to be competitive when hitting retail shelves. Pricing varies between crowdfunding and retail, depending on what the product is and which retailer it’s headed to.

When actually in the crowdfunding process, realize that, in order to be successful, it needs to be a priority. Use it as not only a means to heavily market your brand, but also as a way to gain feedback on your product. Discover what’s working and what’s not, whether you need to change a key component of your product or just switch up your marketing ploys, so you can be sure you’re spending your time and energy efficiently. If your crowdfunding doesn’t hit goal, ask for reasons why, both from your funders and especially from those who chose not to fund.

After a successful crowdfunding campaign, platforms like Indiegogo can assist with facilitating relationships between brands and retailers. Kate specifically mentions partnerships with Brookstone (which carries Indiegogo products and even assists with marketing and manufacturing when needed), Amazon Launchpad and Target Open House (who, for example, helps start-ups by drastically reducing the time from product pitch to retail shelves). The platform also offers InDemand, a way for potential customers to pre-order an Indiegogo project even after the campaign has ended, helping brands recoup what would have previously been lost profits. When addressing exactly how many pre-orders are too many pre-orders, Kate says that setting a pre-sale limit for yourself should all be based on good planning. Having a realistic timeline and knowing what you actually can and can’t deliver is crucial. Then, update your community of funders regarding your findings, so they’re up to the minute on your progress.

Last tips: For anyone looking to launch physical product, which will ultimately end up in brick-and-mortar storefronts, preparation is key. The more you do before you go live with your crowdfunding campaign, the better. Use your time wisely to understand your game plan, before you launch your campaign, so then you can truly focus and concentrate on making your campaign successful in the moment. Kate also encourages anyone looking for crowdfunding assistance to contact her at kate@indiegogo.com


Learn more tips like this at HardwareCon 2018, the Bay Area’s Premier Hardware Innovation conference on April 19th-20th.  Experience two full days of keynotes, panels and workshops focused on the most important topics around building a successful hardware company. Get your tickets here now if you want to meet the hottest startups, investors and industry leaders across the global hardware ecosystem.

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