Crowdfunding Strategies: Wimoto’s “Motes” On Indiegogo


nine things motesYou may remember our May article about Motes, tiny sensors made for monitoring the world around you. From that article…

Motes are small, portable sensors that can detect temperature, humidity and light levels anywhere. They can be placed almost anywhere. They last about a year on a single battery and don’t require an internet connection to work.

There are three flavors corresponding with the three functions described above: ClimotesGrowmotes, and Thermotes. Core to the function of these sensors is the companion smartphone app, currently completed for iOS devices with an Android version on the way.

The project has been fully funded since then, and it has enabled Wimoto to introduce a fourth version. Called Securimotes, they employ a motion sensor and accelerometer to enable the purchaser to monitor things like doors opening or people coming and going.

Last week I had a chance to talk to Marc Nicholas, CTO of Wimoto Technologies and creator of Motes. He had some interesting insight into what it takes to make a crowdfunding campaign successful, and specifically some of the methods Indiegogo employs to push a campaign over the top.

CFI: Let’s start with the project. Motes! Where did you come up with the idea?

Marc Nicholas: There were two stages to the ideas that lead to Motes. A few years ago, I started growing heirloom tomatoes organically, and wished I had a way to monitor for dry conditions, know how much sunlight they were getting, and when frost was a danger. I live on the edge of a small valley and therefore the microclimate is often +/-2c versus the local weather forecast.

More recently, my son was born and we were concerned about the temperature in his bedroom at night. The temperature readout in his baby monitor wasn’t terribly accurate, and I wish there was a way we could just have our iPhone or iPad alert us if temperature was an issue. Room temperature has been linked to Sudden Infant Death syndrome, which is obviously every parent’s biggest nightmare.

growmote-gardenHow long did you spend planning your crowdfunding campaign? What was that process like from your point of view? 

I left my full-time job in January to concentrate on the Wimoto project.

I put far too much emphasis on getting the product right rather than “getting out there” and launching a campaign at first. Then my wife commented that I should just get on with it [the crowdfunding] and that people don’t need to see a fully finished product.

I feel ecstatic. The biggest thrill of crowd funding has been the people — the words of support, the ideas, the validation of our idea. And being able to refactor both the campaign (we completely redesigned it on-the-fly) and finesse the product as we go is amazing.

What resources helped you strategize ahead of your campaign? Were you flying blind or did you lean on any materials? (Perhaps Indiegogo’s field guide?) 

We looked at other campaigns — both on and off Indiegogo. We didn’t actually get the Field Guide until after we’d raised about $7k.

Screen Shot 2013-06-03 at 8.10.23 AMWas Indiegogo your first choice of platform? How did you settle on that platform? 

We chose Indiegogo because, even though I have a US bank account, Employer Identification Number and address, we couldn’t get approved on Kickstarter. Getting started with Indiegogo was easy and straightforward.

Have you had to seek any one-on-one support from Indiegogo staffers? If so, how have they been to work with? 

They reached out to us to offer Strategy Support. I think for less sophisticated campaigner’s, their support would be helpful. But we were already doing most of what they recommend.

They seem pleasant and helpful. We were around 20% funded when they reached out and they wanted to talk again at 30% — but we went from 20% to 130% in one day.

Obviously, Indiegogo places a lot of faith in their Gogofactor and will tell you that it’s the key to everything. Having a high Gogofactor has certainly opened doors for us — we’ve made it to their homepage and are being featured as their Campaign of the Day today.

You mentioned that things were a little slow until you were featured in Indiegogo’s email newsletter. What was that like? What type of financial impact did that have on your campaign?

Things were a little slow, yes. But we did get to 20% funded (~$7k) by ourselves organically with fairly limited media exposure. I believe we would have still gotten funded, but it would have been much closer to the end of the campaign.

Did you gain any insight into how Indiegogo curates offerings? How did they find you? For example, was it algorithmic or did someone see your campaign and think it was cool?

Obviously, Indiegogo places a lot of faith in their Gogofactor and will tell you that it’s the key to everything. Having a high Gogofactor has certainly opened doors for us — we’ve made it to their homepage and are being featured as their Campaign of the Day today.

I do believe that they hand curate popular projects in each category and look for things that are marketable. They haven’t confirmed exactly the process.

Any added pressure now that you’re fully funded with over a month to go? How are you feeling about all of this? 

I’m afraid of the campaign having exhausted itself too early and now everyone has to wait 40-days 🙂 We’re not going to do any stretch goals because we’re already busy enough, especially as we added another Mote (Securimote) after we reached our funding goal.

I feel ecstatic. The biggest thrill of crowd funding has been the people — the words of support, the ideas, the validation of our idea. And being able to refactor both the campaign (we completely redesigned it on-the-fly) and finesse the product as we go is amazing.

What do you wish you knew before launching your campaign that you know now? Any advice for other crowdfunders?

  • Be prepared to spend hours per day on your campaign. I do.
  • Answer people’s questions and be reachable.
  • Don’t expect that if you build it, they will come. Keep pounding the street and getting the word out.
  • A business is built one customer at a time — remember that mantra.
  • Experiment with different content, catchlines, etc. We have.
  • Make it EASY for people to see what your campaign is about. Pictures are worth a thousand words. Infographics of any sort really help.
  • Don’t give up faith and keep working, right up until the end.
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  • Roland Schmidt

    You should be still writing this article, 3 years later backers still waiting for their backed products.
    The creator went quiet millions of excuses and asked for money twice with no results. Maybe there was a reason why KS didn’t approve this. Dodgy people out there.

  • Marc Nicholas

    @wordsmith_wesson:disqus The curation comment is particular to being featured in the Newsletter. I believe there is a “floor” in terms of Gogofactor to being considered for the Newsletter, but I also believe there’s some human discretion in what goes in [to it].

  • Wordsmith & Wesson

    Great post. It’s interesting that Indiegogo reached out to this campaign, as they spend so much time saying they don’t curate campaigns, or handpick anyone. Clearly, you’ve figured out this is untrue, as I have.

    If you hadn’t reached 20% on your own, you wouldn’t have made it into Most Popular. I learned that the hard way, as you can learn here: http://www.couldawouldashouldabook.com/what-you-should-know-before-you-indiegogo-a-cautionary-tale-of-crowdfunding/

    I was one of the actually most popular campaigns on the site, but hadn’t hit 20% despite clearly beating most campaigns in all other (not as important categories). They refused to tell me this percentage played into it, and actually offered to lower my goal because they knew I was doing everything right.

    Lowering the goal didn’t help, because they didn’t give me context. I figured it out, funded to 20% myself, and I instantly became the 15th MP campaign on the site and was beating campaigns funded at 500% with a great deal more facebook shares – all because I’d kicked gogo-tail. Unfortunately, the site’s extra promotion kicked in with five days left and $31,0000K to go, so I get to say I “failed” when really, they failed all of us (lowering my goal affects everyone. The hidden 20% affects everyone when a campaign is rewarded for having a lower goal.

    This is a great product, and you’ve earned your success, but IGG keeps proving they want to curate the big tech projects and ignore the little guys and keep taking their 9% when they fail.

    Me? I worked so hard on my first campaign, that when I was forced to launch a second campaign (http://igg.me/at/couldawouldashouldanovel), my network is fatigued (and doesn’t trust IGG), the social media buttons are malfunctioning on all campaigns and IGG won’t do anything about it because most people don’t notice, so I’m having to find entirely new ways to move up in the rankings (and I’m pretty high because I know how to work the system, but I can’t move up with inaccurate social shares).

    Seriously – test some random campaigns on different platforms. Some shares will work, some won’t, some will be counted, some won’t. I asked for an exact count of each after being told this “non-issue” I’d sent repeated proof of doesn’t work, and they told me they don’t know the data, so I’d have to check with Twitter, because Twitter knows and they don’t.

    Says a lot about that B.S. gogofactor.

    Good luck!

    • Like most algorithms, Indiegogo’s algorithm is proprietary and unique to their platform. If you figured out a bit of their secret sauce that is great, but it’s pretty standard that they wouldn’t divulge specifics about how they automatically curate offerings for their own promotions. It’s core to what differentiates them from other platforms.

      I’ve read your posts and I don’t personally see anything that suggests egregious activity on behalf of Indiegogo. Regarding the 20% threshold, we often adhere to a similar rule when deciding which offerings to cover. We get a lot of submissions where funding stands at single digit percentages, but I’m a big believer in the 30% rule. It’s cited often on our site, and I think it or a version of it should be core to any automated curation in the crowdfunding space. Serious crowdfunders should be able to hit this threshold quickly. https://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2012/12/7095-the-crowdfunding-30-rule/

      We do cover everyone that submits, but we’re much more likely to give an exclusive to a campaign that is already well on their way to success. Exceptions are sometimes made for really innovative or interesting projects. The same thing happens with strangers on crowdfunding platforms. The Pebbles and the Ouyas of the space are the exception, not the rule.

      Raw social share totals are an incomplete vision of a campaign’s “popularity” because they’re so easy to juice. If you look at the mentions of your own campaign on Twitter most are from you or someone claiming to be working for your campaign, for example. I’d argue that doesn’t necessarily make it popular, although it’s a testament to your own marketing and dedication to your campaign. (Click “All” at the top) https://twitter.com/search/realtime?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.indiegogo.com%2Fprojects%2Fcoulda-woulda-shoulda–2

      For what it’s worth, I’ve seen inconsistent Twitter sharing data on our front page for weeks. It is entirely plausible that Indiegogo is correct in saying that Twitter’s own data API is inaccurate from time to time.

      Having said all of that, in the interest of fairness and transparency I’ve reached out to Indiegogo for comment regarding your experience and will publicize any response either in this comment thread or in a standalone article depending. If you have any response for me my direct email is charles@crowdfundinsider.com.

      Thanks for reading!

      • Wordsmith & Wesson

        So, you don’t think it’s unethical that NOWHERE on their site does it say that Most Popular actually means gogofactor + 20%? You don’t think it’s unethical they wasted days of my time, broke their own rules, and used six levels of staff to deny me information while taking 9% of my money earned?

        Sorry, that’s not cool. I WAS one of the best on the site, but because my goal was higher, even though I rocked that gogofactor they hang their hat on, I was denied my dues simply because of an arbitrary percentage.

        And how about the contributors? They shouldn’t know that these campaigns must meet 20% to have a better shot at succeeding? Of course they should.

        IGG has terrible customer service. They should be transparent and say, well, it’s mostly based on gogofactor, but really, we have a 20% minimum requirement before you get access to all that promotion and exposure we promised you by saying ALL of your success is based on YOUR effort.

        Or, they could just not have an arbitrary percentage and let the gogofactor actually decide things.

        And if I didn’t catch on to their unethical practices, they wouldn’t have redesigned the site, now would they? Now they can say
        Popular Now, instead of Most Popular and keep their STILL UNADVERTISED 20% rule because it no longer means actual popularity.

        And lowering my goal? Because they knew I was running a perfect campaign but wasn’t near 20%? They didn’t say, we have a requirement you haven’t met, so lower your goal to this (which is unethical in and of itself). They didn’t want to tell me because they were afraid people would find out. That’s unethical.

        And the fact they’ve multiple examples of proof from third-parties and different campaigns proving their rankings are off because of a technical issue and are ignoring it? That’s not unethical? If the gogofactor is king, then it’s impacted by this error.

        And they shouldn’t be reaching out to anyone to help them. It says on their site “we don’t curate campaigns. We believe the community who decides who’s successful.” Which is a huge lie.