Using Beta to Build a Better Kickstarter Campaign

Crowdfunding is undoubtedly changing the tech landscape. Promising companies are posting videos featuring intriguing prototypes and fascinating concepts every day on sites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or one of the many other crowdfunding options out there. At the same time, tech company executives, journalists, and investors are trying to figure out exactly what crowdfunding means for the tech sector as a whole.

Crowdfunding creates a new dynamic for entrepreneurs. Instead of pitching your idea to a handful of investors, you’re pitching to millions of small investors, most of whom you know nothing about. You’re opening up your new idea to scrutiny and hoping people find it compelling enough to open up their wallets. On top of having an interesting idea, you need to find a way to build credibility, so potential backers trust that you’re going to follow through on your promises.

There’s a lot of advice out there for companies looking to run a successful campaign on Kickstarter or Indiegogo, but one aspect many overlook is leveraging beta testing to build a successful crowdfunding campaign.

A great example of this is the Kickstarter-funded product Skydog. They launched a Kickstarter project in April 2013. They had the catchy video, the beautiful screenshots, and the impressive feature list. What made Skydog unique, however, was that front and center on their Kickstarter page was a video from their beta testers, praising their router and discussing in detail what they liked most about it.

Before starting their Kickstarter campaign, Skydog had run a beta test with our Managed Betas Team. During the test they collected video feedback from their testers, which they edited into the video you see below.

They also used data from their beta surveys to create visual graphics for their Kickstarter page, highlighting what people liked about the product.

Skydog Infographics

Finally, they pulled out specific quotes from beta testers about their experiences, shedding light on specific use cases.

Skydog Beta Tester Quotes

According to PowerCloud Systems CEO Jeff Abramowitz (the creator of Skydog), the beta testers had played a significant role in validating and improving the product. “The primary reason to run a beta was to get feedback on the product. Not only did we validate the basic value proposition of the product, but we learned a LOT from our beta testers about features and functionality. The result was a vastly better product that came to market.”

This set Skydog apart from the pack (no pun intended) because they had data and testimonials to back up their promises. Backers knew that what they were investing in was the real deal, instead of some company that could get a couple steps down the road and realize their product was fundamentally flawed.

This is exactly what Skydog was hoping to accomplish with their approach, according to Abramowitz. “Primarily we wanted to prove to the world that the buying public wanted a solution like Skydog. We knew there was a need, but we wanted to generate objective data that demonstrated to other potentially interested parties (e.g. customers, partners, investors, potential employees, etc.) that this concept really has ‘legs.'”

During their month of fundraising, Skydog blew past their $75,000 goal and raised over $120,000 from over 1,000 backers. They received press coverage from TechCrunch, VentureBeat, Engadget, Mashable, and more.

Since finishing their campaign they’ve sold thousands of units and are continuing to grow. Abramowitz credits some of this success to their beta testers as well. “Beta users were also very enthusiastic when Skydog was launched on Amazon, spurring sales by sharing with friends and family, writing reviews on Amazon, participating in the forum, etc.”

By running a beta test before launching their Kickstarter campaign, the Skydog team was able to not only validate and improve their product, but also use that beta feedback to build trust and credibility during the next phase of their product development. Beta gave them the momentum to take their project to the next level.

Just as with angel and VC investors, crowdfunding contributors want to know that your product is more than just a compelling idea. Beta testing provides a great way for you to show what real people think about your product and how they can use it.

Ready to start planning your beta test? Download one of our free beta test planning kits for software or hardware products. If you’d like to see if our Managed Betas Team can help you achieve your beta testing goals, request a free beta test plan with one of our beta managers.

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