We are just a few hours away from the end of our Kickstarter campaign. In 60 days, almost 650 people from over 20 countries pledged over $56K for an idea that aimed to take on a big issue. We created 999Bottles to help people grasp the cumulative impact that a small daily gesture can have, and motivate them to change their behavior to help make a big difference for our most precious shared resource: the environment.
Unfortunately, and despite your enthusiastic support and generous contributions, we are not going to meet our goal of $99,999 – the minimum capital we needed to bring to market the first run of 999Bottles.
While we are obviously disappointed, we feel thankful for the great support and opportunity to test our concept on Kickstarter. And we feel particularly proud of:
Your faith and enthusiasm for 999Bottle, which encourages us to believe that there is an opportunity and demand for well-designed products that directly encourage a change in behavior for a preferable future, this is after all, what we believe design in the 21st Century is all about.
We attracted the attention of key partners, from retailers Fab and ecomom.com, to organizations like NorTech, whose interest and support for 999Bottles showed us that ecaring about the environmental impact we have is something not only consumers are ready for, but businesses embrace as well.
The buzz around 999Bottles was fueled by top publications like Mashable, Discovery News, Treehugger.com and Geekwire and it reached even celebrities and activists like Seattle Seahawk’s wide receiver Golden Tate and UN Citizen Ambassador, Jonathan Eric Defante, who lent us their voice and shared the 999Bottles message.
More than anything, we are humbled by your support. You are an engaged and positive community, you pledged, spread the word, shared via social media channels, and sent us ideas for the product and suggestion for how to get more people to see the concept.
In some ways the decision to try to bring 999Bottles to market was a difficult one. It represented a big commitment in terms of time and effort – and one that involved a good deal of financial risk. It would have been easy (or even tempting) not to stick our necks out. But we’re happy we saw an opportunity and took that leap. We cannot necessarily rely on others to take the first step to make a difference, and some of the issues we face will require all of us to act – and every incremental positive change you make does really does add up to a bigger contribution. Crowdfunding is a powerful tool for individuals and small groups of people to test ideas and bring new products to market. With the recent Job Act, we expect to see a lot more opportunities in this space.
What’s next for 999Bottles and Artefact?
We will continue to explore other funding avenues and if we manage to raise capital to produce this concept, you’ll be the first to know!
While our 999Bottles concept won’t be available this year, we encourage you to use any re-usable bottle and consider keeping track of the plastic bottles you save by marking your bottle with a Sharpie (like I do). Send us a picture or post it on Facebook.com/999bottles — we’ll keep the channels open!
We at Artefact, will continue on our path to design products and experiences that influence behaviors for positive outcomes both through our incubation and consulting activities. We invite you to keep in touch with us on Facebook.com/artefactgroup and Twitter @artefactgroup for future updates.
PS. Golden Tate still plans to give away a signed football to one of our backers, the winner will be announced on Monday. Stay tuned!
Last week, we invited our Kickstarter backers to vote on the design of the Limited Edition 999Bottles. They jumped on the chance to participate, cast their vote and have their design voice heard. In three days, we got almost 300 votes and we now have a winner! But before we unveil that I’d like to share a bit more of why it was important for us to involve supporters in this decision.
One of the reasons Artefact embarked on the 999Bottles project was to take a concept, that we firmly believe in, all the way from our sketch pad to market. As a design consultancy, we have the privilege to work with leading companies to shape the design for innovative products and create the overall concept of unique user experiences. But we are only a small part of the entire process. 999Bottles gives us the opportunity to be involved all the way through—from the more significant details and visible ones, like the shape of the bottle, to the less obvious ones, like the bar on the cap that allows you to attach a carrying strap and then taking the idea to the public. So why did we give up some of the control in the design?
We wanted to show our supporters a token of appreciation for their support. In less than a month, more than 500 people pledged money for 999Bottles on Kickstarter. Without our supporters, 999Bottles is simply an idea.
We wanted to give supporters more ownership in the journey. Our backers’ support does not end with their pledge. We rely on them to spread the word and become champions to 999Bottles so we can reach our funding goal.
The Limited Edition 999Bottles is a way to commemorate our Kickstarter community. If we succeed in reaching our goal (and we hope we do), we may make thousands of 999Bottles. Yet these 999 Limited Edition bottles will always symbolize the passion and commitment of these first supporters. What better way to do that than letting backers choose the design?
The winner is the Personalized Limited Edition 999Bottles! It features the backer’s name and the unique number of the bottle.
The second most popular design was the Engraved World Map. It features a subtle texture and aunique number per bottle. When we asked our Facebook fans to guess the winning design, they actually chose this option.
Results are in! We closed the 999Bottles limited edition survey last night so now it’s time for our Facebook fans to guess the winning design. You can check out the three concepts here and like the one you think got the most votes. We’ll reveal the winner in less than 24 hours. Stay tuned!
As seen in the last post we are conducting a poll to determine the final design for the 999Bottle Limited Edition. If you’d like to get your vote in, you just need to become a backer with $1 or more. You can always change your pledge level until funding closes on June 22. Join us!
We’re taking a moment to breathe and thank everyone for the remarkable support we’ve received for 999Bottles. We surpassed 10% of our funding goal in our first 3 days on Kickstarter! And with this milestone comes a bit of reflection on some lessons learned so far.
Marketing strategy #1: build community, early.
Start your marketing before you launch. We started a modest Facebook page a month before launching on Kickstarter. Not only was it a great way to gather early support and build some groundswell buzz, but it also gave us a sense of the issues that could come up.
We shared the process with our followers as we went along and looked for what resonated with people. It really helped us make decisions on how to conduct the launch. It also allowed us to tell the story of 999Bottles from the point of view of the people behind the project. We defined our motivation by sharing information on what plastic consumption does to the environment. We posted early prototypes of the product and packaging ideas to convey the reasons behind our design choices, and openly discussed our pricing considerations.
A side benefit of starting marketing early is that it allows you to identify and connect with influencers whose support you will need. In our case, Facebook and Twitter helped us connect with the UN Citizen Ambassador for 2011 Jonathan Eric Defante and artist Katharine Harvey.
Be everywhere. One channel it’s not enough. Over 66% of our donations come from external referrals such as, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, this blog, press, etc. It all helps drive pledges and you can track which sources drove the most. In our case, the top sources of backers were Search results, direct traffic, and posts on Uncrate, FastCo Design, and Huffington Post. The lesson is: no one channel is the answer. So take advantage of the multiple platforms and build a large digital footprint to increase your chances of driving your project toward your fundraising goal.
Ensure you can adapt to KS structure.
Kickstarter is set up for individuals rather than companies, even small studios like ours do not quite match the structure. So when we tried to set up the Amazon payments through one of our founders, Amazon Payments rejected our account because it did not match the KS account owner we had set up. It took us several days to figure out how to set it up correctly and a lot fo back-and-forward!
BTW, use KS support. One thing we’ve learned with every challenge we’ve faced is that KS has AWESOME customer support. They are quick to get back to you and very friendly and follow-up until the issue is resolved.
Be ready to provide answers and change plans, quickly.
Oui-Oui! International shipping!!! We really didn’t think we would have such international appeal with 999Bottles so we were caught off-guard with the demands to ship the bottle to every corner of the world. We quickly re-calculated and updated the costs, but then we found out we couldn’t change the pledge rewards once you go live. So make sure you plan for even the most unforeseen places in the world from the get-go!
Be ready to provide answers! Personal thank-yous, prompt replies — the KS community is a very active one and it’s pretty much a full-time job to stay on top of messages. Fortunately, the KS site has many ways to keep your community engaged. Do use Updates, FAQs or contact your backers directly. Just plan to have a dedicated time slot every day to tend to the community so you don’t fall behind.
Another little thing that came up was demand for an Android app. Our original plan included only an iPhone app, but now that we’re getting more and more questions about it we’re starting to think about how much money, resources, timing, would take us to do this. We’re trying to listen hard to the community to determine our path forward. We won’t be able to please everyone but besides raising capital, KS is a great market test for a product. So don’t dismiss the request you get even if they don’t fit your original vision.
And finally, track everything (not just bottles!)
I’m addicted to the KS dashboard (confession: I love tracking tools!) but I got this link from Selina Rodriguez our studio coordinator (she’s the beautiful lady with Ray Ban glasses in our glam picture!) and it saves a ton of math time to figure out projections and it’s updates almost real-time. The point is data can help you have a very dynamic project and adapt to the rhythm of your campaign. For example, on Facebook, we learned that Thursdays were our most active day so we started release important updates and promptly saw higher engagement.
Our campaign officially launched today on Kickstarter and we’re thrilled to see the great support in our first day! We have 60 days to raise $99,999 to produce the first run of 999Bottles! Help us make this a reality. Check us out on: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/999bottles/999bottles
Pricing has been one of the biggest and most interesting challenges about the process of bringing 999Bottles to the world. Here’s a bit of insight on how we went about it. (Note we’ll be live VERY SOON ON KICKSTARTER!!!)
Our philosophy on pricing was that, ultimately, the bottle needs to be accessible. As we showed earlier this week, switching to tap water brings immediate and significant savings. But even with these savings, we wanted to make sure that the price does not discourage people from using the 999Bottles.
We also wanted to strike a balance between the hard costs of building a high-end bottle with the quality of stainless steel (durability) and the rubber dial for better grip and the iPhone app and maintaining a reasonable price. So we worked through quotes form manufacturing and design choices and investigated consumer attitudes towards pricing. The result is—the 999Bottles (including the accompanying app) will be priced between $25 and $30 depending on how many bottles you buy. Looking at other reusable bottles on the market, we believe that we hit the mark on elegance as well as price.
Here’s a graphical comparison of metal water bottles by price per oz and elegance (quality) developed by one of our research and strategist, Gabriel Biller.