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The KoalaSafe guys nailed their first Kickstarter campaign - here are 9 things they learned about crowdfunding

Just. One. More. Minute. Picture: Getty Images
KoalaSafe founders Steven Pack and Adam Mills.

In the next couple of weeks, life will hopefully become a little easier for 600 parents and their Minecraft-obsessed kids.

KoalaSafe is an Australian invention which aims to give parents full control over how long their kids are connected to the internet, and exactly what they’re connected to.

It’s just a box:

Simple, but effective.

But it also supplies data on sites and how long children have spent on each one. If Facebook usage jumps from one hour to 20 hours a week, KoalaSafe will notify you.

It also incorporates safe search so inappropriate content can’t be accessed, but the device which was originally pitched on Kickstarter as a content filter quickly found an unintended audience.

“It’s time limits that parents want most,” co-founder Steven Pack told Business Insider as the first bulk order of units were packed and ready for shipping this week.

Pack and fellow software engineer Adam Mills quit their jobs at big banks halfway through 2014 to work on the idea after Pack’s niece and nephew were given an iPad and a laptop for Christmas.

He said the kids gradually went from playing outside to being glued to the screens and addicted to computer games.

“It’s no coincidence our best performing marketing term is ‘Is your child obsessed with Minecraft?’, Pack says.

But their story is not just about helping mums and dads deal with the tiresome daily ritual of peeling their stroppy darlings away from screens. It’s also about a Kickstarter campaign that so far has been a model of success for the crowdfunding campaign from idea to delivery.

Even Atlassian’s co-founders have thrown their support behind the project:


And it looks like their journey is just beginning, with a planned presence soon on Amazon.com and interest from telcos and ISPs to incorporate their technology and target the “family-friendly ISP” market.

So we asked Pack for his tips on how to turn a great idea into a successful crowdfunding campaign, and he gave us nine. Here they are:

Don’t assume your buyers are tech-savvy just because they found you on Kickstarter

“One unforeseen issue we had was the language of the Kickstarter platform. We had non-tech savvy mums, pulling their hair out looking for a solution to this problem and they just wanted to buy. The nature of Kickstarter where you ‘pledge’ funds in order for the product to be developed was a foreign concept to a lot of our backers – we had a lot of first-time backers who had to go through the process of signing up and understanding ‘what on earth this Kickstarter thing actually is’ in order to buy.”

Build something people want

Yes.

“Prove you are doing it by getting 10 people to pay you 50% of the cost for a prototype version before you start. If you can’t, something is wrong. If at all possible, build a following before you launch and bring those people to your project.”

“We also had 34 people pledge small amounts of money just to show us they support our cause. That was very fulfilling.”

But be prepared to be flexible

“When we started out, we thought we were solving the ‘content filtering’ problem; that is, restricting age-inappropriate content. Turns out that’s a nice-to-have for a lot of families.

“It’s time limits that parents want most. When 60 Minutes does a segment on ‘screen time addicts’, you know you’re on the right track.”

Don’t limit yourself to one crowdfunding model

“There is an all-or-nothing nature to Kickstarter. You might raise 95% of your target and get nothing. Or you could try raise $10k and raise $7m!

“Founders should consider Indiegogo also, which doesn’t have the all or nothing rule like Kickstarter.”

Have a PR plan

“It’s no coincidence our best performing marketing term is ‘Is your child obsessed with Minecraft?’ Other popular games come regularly too like Clash of Clans and Boom Beach.

“Besides Minecraft though, watching YouTube videos is the other activity that kids get particularly obsessive about.”

And the odd April Fool’s prank doesn’t hurt:

The team nailed it on April 1 with a press release outlining the NSW Baird government’s “plan” to sell off playgrounds because “kids don’t use them anyway”. Proceeds from the sale were to go towards a new digital park that kids can enjoy on their computers – just like Minecraft – and plenty of news sites lapped it up.

Think long and hard about your funding goal

“Make it low enough to be realistic, high enough that you can deliver!”

Reach out to every other project in your area

“Get their tips. Most will want to help.”

Be prepared to go global

“Another great thing about Kickstarter is the global and varied nature of your backers. We’ve had distribution enquiries from backers who run their own business from Portugal, Turkey, the UK and Hong Kong. That’s not something we expected.

“And if your project involves China, talk to people who have done business there before.”

You need a good video

One that addresses the need and how everything works, simply and quickly. Like this:

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