Yesterday we launched our book Accelerate through KickStarter. Accelerate is the ultimate guide to business accelerator programs and their graduates. Throughout the KickStarter campaign I will be talking about our experiences, but In this first post, I’m going to focus on the 4 screw-ups that I have made, less than 1 day into the project. Hope this helps others out who are considering a Kickstarter project.
Mistakes and learnings
1) Project denied the first time – In the first application I submitted to Kickstarter, the description of the project focused mainly on the advice that the founders we have interviewed give to budding entrepreneurs. However, KickStarter does not allow “business advice” or “life-coaching” content. Denied. So we had to change our model.
2) Project denied for the second time - Somehow, quite possibly because of the confusing way I had reworded our project, we were denied again because Kickstarter thought we were launching the book to fund an accelerator program. After communicating with Kickstarter and clearing up this confusion, Accelerate was finally approved!
3) For those of you that do now know of Hacker News, Hacker News is a free submission social news platform provided by the most heavily featured accelerator program in our book, Y Combinator. Articles that are submitted appear in a news feed-like style and either get lost because no one likes them or get voted up which can lead the article on the HN front page. If the article that you submit makes it to the front page, depending on the day, the article can be clicked on by as many as 700 people an hour, driving serious traffic to post.
Now there is a right way to do this and a way that won’t help you to much at all. The links to our interviews that I post to HN, if they make it to the front page, make it in an organic way. However, this time when I posted the link to the Accelerate KickStarter project, I forwarded a decent proportion of the entrepreneurs that we have interviewed to-date directly to the link on HN like so. I thought I was very smart to do this, becasue the time that I was submitting the link to our project was a time that link submission rate to HN is high and I was worried that if i just sent everyone a link to the new posts, that it might be a bit of a pain in the ass for them to find it and then vote it up. However, there is an important safeguard against this kind of aggressive up-voting (spamming) put in by Paul Graham, that to an extent punishes those that drive traffic to the articles direct reference on HN (I found this out too late). Even with this safeguard, the shear number of up-votes within 10 minutes moved us onto the front page almost straight away. But, because the consistency of new up-votes dropped off almost as quickly as they had started, the link to our KickStarter project never placed higher than 22 on the front page and then dropped of the front page (The front page displays the 30 most highly up-voted articles) after about an hour.
Y Combinators Hacker News is an incredibly powerful tool that can generate substantial traffic to your posts and interesting articles, if you use it as it is intended to be used. If you use it in a way that may appear to the algorithm as spam, like I did yesterday, it’s a big waste of a lot of planning and effort… and you’re a penis.
4) If you find yourself in a position where you are thanking people for their valuable contribution to your work or like us, displaying a list of more than 100 logos of the incredible individuals that made the project possible, do not leave anyone out. My point here is if you start thanking people, at least double check that you didn’t miss anyone. I didn’t do this… And it might end up being the dumbest mistake so far with the project.
If you wish to check out Accelerate on KickStarter, you can click here. As of now, we have 48 days to-go on KickStarter and we have raised 5% of what we need. So in spite of messing up quite a bit, the project is off to a pretty solid start
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