Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Intelligence And Cookies

(Note: This is entry number 2 in a three part series on some of the things I have learned about intelligence support to entrepreneurs from running a number of crowdfunding campaigns. For Part 1, click here.)

Ah!  Cookies!  Who can resist a good cookie?  Fresh out of the oven, homemade, imprinted with pictures of horses and bunnies and dinosaurs...


That is the good idea of Lisa Van Riper, the creator of the Tiny Hands On A Roll Kickstarter (closing in a little more than 24 hours). Little kids like to "help" when it comes to baking but kitchen implements are often too large, too unsafe or too uninteresting for little kids to use.  How can you keep them engaged without them getting frustrated?

Lisa hand makes laser engraved, bakery quality rolling pins that are exactly the right size for small children.  They work just like a good rolling pin ought to work but are sized for tiny hands and completed with customizable laser-engraved images that make the rolling fun.

Check out her project page (just click on the image above).  Her images are beautiful, her products demonstrate an over-abundance of quality and care in manufacturing.  Something like this ought to just kill it on Kickstarter, right?

Yep.  Except for one small detail (and my second lesson learned);  Timing.

Every crowdfunding project creator worries about timing.  What is the best day to launch? What is the best time of day to launch?  How long should the campaign be?  When is the best time of month to launch?  When is the best day to end?  What days should I avoid?  

These are all good questions but it is easy to be hyper-focused on these tactical issues and miss the strategic (or, at least, seasonal) trends.

Take a look at the chart below.  It is taken from Google Trends and shows the US search trend for the term "rolling pin" over the last ten years or so.  Talk about strong patterns!  Every peak is in December and every trough is in...ahem...April.  

Hindsight being 20/20, it is obvious why this is so.  Rolling pins are strongly associated with the scratch baking frenzy that begins shortly before the end of October and only ends around the time people are waking up late and cursing the winter sunlight of January 2nd.  In terms of searches for the term "rolling pin" at least, that frenzy is almost three times as strong in the fall as it is in the spring of every year since 2005.

We figured this out before we launched, of course.  Lisa wants to expand her business and she wanted to get this product line out there now and not wait till the fall.  She has already explored other ways to sell the product after the Kickstarter campaign is over and she will almost certainly do well in the fall with these products (when not only baking season but also toy season kicks in).  Our solution was to adjust her expectations - and her goal - accordingly.  

Not every product has this strong of a trend associated with it.  That said, if you have to swim upstream, you at least want to know about it beforehand.

Next:  Intelligence And Vigilantes