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Five Innovation Lessons From Kickstarter

We all know Kickstarter – the crowdfunding platform that allows ideas (hypotheses) to be field tested before they are even built. And the founders can derive funding at the same time!

Here are five lessons that we can learn from successful Kickstarter campaigns (thank you Forbes).

1.  Build off the familiar.  When people hear the word “innovation,” they often imagine something completely new.  In reality, most successful innovations find new ways to combine or reimagine old ideas.  Think the most successful Kickstarter project of the year was some fancy new app or mobile device?  Actually, it was a cooler – the Coolest Cooler, to be precise.  The Coolest Cooler – billed as a portable party that combines a cooler, speakers, blender, and other party accessories – received 26,570% of its funding goal, raising over $13 million from more than 60,000 backers.

2.  Alleviate high costs and pain points.  Initial consumer interest in a product is often sparked by an ability to accomplish a task that was previously difficult or frustrating to complete.  No matter how enticing the product sounds, consumers are just as quickly turned off if the product is overly expensive or particularly complicated to use.

3.  Respond to clusters of trends.  Executives often worry about how to incorporate trends when designing new products, fearing that they will launch a product focused on a passing fad.  Successful new product categories tend to build off of multiple trends that work together.

4.  Learn from real customer interactions.  Gaston Blanchet and Jesse Potash, launchers of the Trunkster campaign, have truly taken some of the Lean Startup principles to heart.  After noticing a number of pain points in their own travels, they set out to design a better piece of luggage.  Starting with little more than a rough sketch of a new suitcase, they set out to understand the problems other travellers faced and to see how their design would fit those needs.  As they observed actual travellers, they steadily created a list of small annoyances that their product could address – bags that run over your heels as you hurry to catch a flight, an inability to find a free outlet to charge your phone at the airport, the embarrassing attempt to unload items from your overweight bag.  Thinking of new ways to solve these issues, the team developed a series of prototypes – from drawings, to videos, to actual luggage – that allowed them to test the design and gauge interest without spending too much before knowing whether the product would be a success.  Because they solved the challenges of real customers they observed, however, the Trunkster campaign has already reached over 2,000% of its funding goal, bringing in over $1 million in funding.

5.  Translate benefits into tangible value.  All Kickstarter campaigns offer some sort of discount or benefit to backers who provide funding.

Kickstarter provides the platform for testing out the hypothesis of what is needed for success, and the MVP (minimal viable product) at the same time.

And its all the same – in the startup and in the enterprise.

The full Forbes article is available here.

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