It gained $1.44 million during its crowdfunding campaign last fall, and now Play-i’s co-founder Vikas Gupta is giving the world an inside look at the company’s success as he shared with Techcrunch. Following the initial self-crowdfunding round, Play-i went on to raise $8 million in a series A round. Earlier this month Play-i shared an update on their shipping date and some of the challenges associated with running a highly successful crowdfunding campaign and the associated fulfillment process.
Entrepreneurs regularly ask how the Play-i team ran such an effective process and Gupta was happy to divulge some of their tactics.
The campaign, originally needed only $250k, was for Play-i’s interactive robots Bo and Yana, which were for children to program and learn. After 30 days, the company raised 1.4 million in a pretail crowdfunding campaign, which captured almost 11,000 orders for the robots.
While discussing why the company decided to host its own campaign, Mr. Gupta noted, “We wanted access to data about customer visits to our project, looking deep into drop-off points, sit heatmaps, traffic sources, and a lot more. Third-party platofrms didn’t give us those capabilities. All third-parties took a significant transaction fee. Middlemen are a big reason why products get marked up for consumers, and we wanted to keep prices affordable.”
He continued, “We wanted to control the user experience and build our brand. Third-party platforms tend to have confusing layouts for customers, especially if they are not familiar with the platform. There are endless sections of rewards and links that can distract customers from our project to somewhere else on the site. We wanted to keep things simple.”
“When you launch on a crowdfunding platform, part of the media story will inevitably be about the platform itself. We wanted every article about journalist wrote to be focused on our robots. We felt that we had to launch on our website, on our terms. We used self-starter, and it was certainly not a trivial process. You need to have design and engineering resources to get it done right.”
In order to make the campaign noticeable, the co-founded admitted the company wanted to make the website less clustered and the call to action quite clear. The rewards page was also simple and straightforward.
Mr. Gupta also revealed as the campaign progress, the company used online advertising for remarketing to customers who already visited its websites. It used a platform called Adroll to run its retargeting campaign. This ideal turned out to be effective to bring customers back to the website towards the tail end of the campaign.
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