I decided to fund the two projects (Octomod and tabulaRasa, if anyone missed part one) in slightly different ways.
The Octomod was funded through word-of-mouth, Twitter, Facebook, and various online forums.
This had the advantage of allowing me to interact with almost everyone who decided to buy a circuit board. I really like the forum method, because I received a lot of valuable feedback and many great suggestions on the designs. On the other hand, these methods forced me to buy the materials up front. I also had to deal with taking orders and collecting money, which can get complicated – making a free, functional storefront through WordPress also seems to be nearly impossible.
For the tabulaRasa, in addition to the social networks and forums, I decided to apply to Kickstarter.
Kickstarter is a way to raise funds for a project, by allowing people to commit a certain amount of money in exchange for a “reward” if the full funding amount is met. If full funding isn’t reached, no money exchanges hands. This has two advantages – 1) the project owner doesn’t have to invest money in the project upfront (although I did, and I’m sure many others do as well), and 2) the people who are funding only end up paying if the project is fully funded.
A couple of things I’ve learned after the Kickstarter experience:
I’m not sure that the video Kickstarter requires really made a difference in my case – but it can’t hurt.
Make sure to set a good financial goal – not too high and not too low.
Likewise, I realized I allowed for too many different funding tiers – this complicated things when it came time to provide the rewards. In the future, I’d go with only 3 or 4 funding levels, and minimize the number of different reward types.
You definitely want to be responsive to questions and comments – both on Kickstarter and on email.
Also, I found it important to remain flexible and willing to change the project. The music I make with my electronics doesn’t require a volt per octave tuning scale, so I designed the tabulaRasa without any sort of calibrated tuning. Many people contacted me asking about v/octave capabilities, so I spent some time doing the math and implementing a tuning algorithm. I made a video demonstrating it working, and had a bunch of people kick-in funding.
The last step of the process was ordering and assembling the boards, which I’ll cover in the next post.