March 7, 2013

Crowdfunded in 12 days: A Success Story

Successful crowdfunder, Robert Torres is one of the founders of Black & Denim, an American Made denim and apparel company with manufacturing provided in California and distribution occurring in Tampa, Florida.  Many aspiring entrepreneurs, investors and the curious watch and live tweet during the Shark Tank show every Friday so when Mr. Torres sent a tweet about his KickStarter campaign using the hash tag “#SharkTank” during the show broadcast, it caught my attention.
Because I teach crowdfunding workshops, I am always on the lookout for projects that implement the advice that I give my students. In this case, Black & Denim has leveraged the entire Shark Tank network by creating a tie-in to his project and by being bold enough to follow through. Remember how I was talking about being bold in this post?
After auditing the Black & Denim campaign, I could clearly see the forethought and planning that it took to launch the campaign. Below, Mr. Torres answers some questions that I posed in an effort to help you understand the complexities and value of planning the campaign from a successful crowdfunders’ perspective.
An Interview with Robert Torres, Co-Founder Black and Denim
Q: What made you decide to crowdfund your project?

A: The decision came easy as this allows us the opportunity to connect with more customers that we normally would not reach. It also allows us to create “Brand Ambassadors”. You normally do not get the opportunity for this since most of the customers that we have shop at specialty boutiques and cannot meet us in person. Through our video people can develop an emotional connection.

Q: Why did you decide to use Kickstarter as your crowdfunding platform?

A: It is the biggest one. It has the most people and is the most successful one. The goal of crowdfunding is not to go viral. It is to draw the most eyeballs to your campaign as you can. Making it as a ‘Staff Pick” is pretty hard in itself. That should be your goal!

Q: How long did it take to plan and launch your Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign?

A: 6 months. It takes a lot of hard work and careful planning.

Q: What does your marketing plan look like?

A: Marketing plan is full of dreams with a big 0 in the budget. We use Guerrilla marketing at it’s best. We use twitter and facebook the most to get our name out there. Knock on doors and go to festivals and speak with people. It is the best way to get your name out there. Big companies can afford big marketing budgets. We do have marketing campaigns, just execute them differently.

Q: You held a live in-person Kickstarter launch party and sent tweets throughout using the hash tag #SharkTank. Why?

A: We understood that people that watch the show is all about business (or want to be one day). The live tweet party gives us the opportunity to connect with them. They want to root for the little guys! We are the little guy! Also, the numbers do help. 

They dominate the demo of 18 to 55 on Friday’s (Prime Time) drawing 6.1 million people in ratings. They beat every other show out there. The big plus? People are already in front of their computers! Or wireless devices. This gives us the opportunity to throw a link at them, they click it, watch the video and decide whether they want to support the campaign or not.

Q: Your project is currently almost funded ($18,259/$20,000) in less than 2 weeks! To what do you attribute your success?

A: Hard work. We made sure that everybody knew that our campaign was alive. When we hit the goal, it was not over. We still had 24 days to go, so we decided to double our goal to 40k.

EDITOR NOTE: This project has now has exceeded the funding initial target goal with 12 days left in the campaign. Currently numbers are $27,560/$20,000 at the time of this writing.

Q: Do you have a crowdfunding tip you can share with us today?

A: Preparation, preparation, preparation! You really do not want to rush it. Study your space. Make a board, craft your speech. Study every other campaign in your space out there. Make sure your video is ON POINT. Good rewards are the sure hook (make them a no brainer). Lastly, make sure everybody knows about it. You never know when the first donation is going to come (or your last). I know you said 1 tip, so think of it as a paragraph tip. Ha ha!
About Black & Denim: Made and sourced with 100% American Raw Materials, Black & Denim® is a Lifestyle brand with a spirit as resilient as the American Dream. It conserves the essence of the History of American craftsmanship where it was born. Its authenticity is expressed though its collections made of casual articles of clothes and accessories for men that are inspired by Americana, Music and the American lifestyle.

Black & Denim designs, manufactures and distributes seasonal and comfortable garments that are inspired by our American Heritage. The premise of being in tune with the fashion trends without becoming a victim of fashion is materialized through contemporary basics -with classic touches- that make the perfect balance between comfort and elegance.

American Inspired. American Made. American Owned.

Connect with Black & Denim:
Kickstarter Website Twitter Facebook Tumblr Pinterest Instagram 

March 4, 2013

Authenticity Failed!

In a world where time equals money, it’s no surprise that people are doing everything they can to increase productivity wherever possible. And so, with the advent of social media, many have done just that. They program their social media accounts to automatically post, cross-post, respond etc.

But when is enough? Are you automating your streams so much that they are being devalued?

Social media is prevalent and can relay timely, relevant content, making it truly a tool to reach the masses. However, engagement is essential to longevity. The key to delivering engaging content across platforms is in knowing why. Be intentional. Write with a purpose.

Don’t just post because you have read that having all the right networks will boost your business or generate traffic. Post because it’s relevant to your base. Be authentic and cultivate a following.

Remember: It’s just as easy for a potential client or your client to click an unfollow or unsubscribe link at any time.

Why should I follow you?

It is important for any aspiring entrepreneur to assess how well they are utilizing their social resources.  Many people just simply say follow me and expect for people to flock to them.  What is the purpose of each social media tool and function in relation to your business? Why is your client following you? What expectations do they have?

This is how I implement social media:

Twitter: This is the space where I live tweet during events, share news, join tweeparties, and connect across the globe with other like-minded people in 140 characters or less. Besides having my blog feed automated and retweets buffered, my twitterfeed is Rachael Alford LIVE. @RachaelChats

Google +: This is where I give and glean insights. It is a truly interactive experience.  I don’t think I am the only one who is in love with the hangouts feature. Because I get updates right in my inbox, this is my fastest social media mode of contact. +Rachael Alford

LinkedIn: This is solely my professional network. I rarely post on this network outside of groups. If we have done business together or share similar goals, I like to see what’s going on in your world and how we can work together to boost our success.

Pinterest: If I see something inspiring, useful or an easily replicable idea, I post it here. You will not see these pins cross posted.

Facebook: My Facebook page is used solely to connect with friends and family. I do not share my Facebook with clients or colleagues.

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