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Kicks and starts: Lessons for would-be entrepreneurs from the crowdfunding trail

posted Jul 12, 2014, 11:03 PM by Siamak Ebarhimi

The Elevation Dock was Portland’s most prominent, early, white-hot Kickstarter success as industry buzz led to pledges of almost $1.5 million, almost 20 times higher than Casey Hopkins sought. It catapulted him from prototype stage to what he is today: head of a real company with a second-generation Elevation Dock and a new product, the Elevation Stand for Apple displays. Now the company is pushing to establish a wholesale channel.
crowdfunding marketing

Kickstarter is at an inflection point.
It remains perhaps the best-known of the crowdfunding platforms, the stop of first resort for aspiring authors, musicians, inventors and small business owners. But the emergence of projects like Potato Salad(more than $45,000 raised as of Thursday) and (a somewhat less awe-inspiring $37 raised as of Thursday) show that the platform has dropped many of the rules that used to filter out unserious projects. It is becoming, as one Portland entrepreneur puts it, more of a performance space.crowdfunding advertising
Yet it's worth reviewing some of the business lessons Kickstarter has taught those who have launched or supported campaigns on the platform. It goes a lot deeper than a simple equation of Green = Go.
Even a successful campaign can raise new questions, such as Holy-cow-how-can-I-fulfill-all-these-orders? One Portland startup launched this week is on track to raise more than $20 million, breaking the all-time Kickstarter funding record. Already, the founder is thinking about the logistics of handling pre-orders of that magnitude.
indiegogo marketing
Even unsuccessful campaigns can provide useful lessons, though.
Here are a few Oregon snapshots from the crowdfunding trail, including updates on some that have been previously described in The Oregonian. In each case, the Kickstarter experience offered business lessons, set a direction for the founders or helped make critical business choices.
kickstarter marketing
Some founders responded to unsuccessful campaigns by changing the business plan, revising the pitch or going in a different direction. Sometimes, Kickstarter failure sparked a new round of creativity.
The range of experiences, in short, is a lot like startups that historically would have been financed in other ways. 
kickstarter project

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By David Khorram