Crowdfunding: Real-world testing
Crowdfunding: Real-world testing
Crowdfunding concepts can be wonderful things that seize moments, spark imaginations and capture the zeitgeist. But let’s face it, they can also be flawed imaginings that miss the mark, fail to float and sink without trace.
One of the pitfalls of crowdfunding can be that many of these ideas – wonderful or otherwise – are only shown to a test group of friends and family before being thrown to the crowd for approval. There is an obvious flaw with this process that too many potential startups continue to learn in the hardest way possible.
It all comes down to a lack of objectivity. You love your project, and have been so wrapped up it for months or years, that you lost any objectivity towards it a long time ago. You’ll deny this of course; you’ll even have a thorough mental list of the only faults that others might potentially see in your design, and another equally thorough list of bulletproof responses to all those accusations. And then of course there is your domestic test group itself. They love you (mostly) and so they love your project (sort of), and whatever reservations they may have about its practicality and real-world brilliance, they won’t want to hurt your feelings (much). So they might hesitate and suggest it could be better if it were a little smaller or bluer (rather obvious criticisms which of course you’ll already have ready-made responses for). But very rarely will your sibling or best friend look you in the face and tell you straight that it’s a terrible idea and that you are wasting your time with this design.
Sadly the result of such an overly comfortable soft launch and worthless sensitive advice can be truly harmful. You’ll feel invigorated, joyfully create your project page, throw your beautiful project to the crowd, and watch as it is either savaged and ripped apart or – worse still – totally ignored and starved of attention.
So here’s the rub. Whoever you are and whatever idea you’ve come up with, please assume that your project isn’t perfect. None of them are, frankly. Don’t go completely overboard and lose confidence in it entirely, but do contemplate the idea that it might possibly be improved, and that you may have missed something important that could just be the difference between successful funding and abject failure.
What you should do instead, if you’re brave and sensible, is present your idea to a truly objective group of people with a relevant mixture of talents and experience. That you aren’t related to. Who are not your friends. And who have nothing to gain or to lose whether your idea is great or a disaster. Before you go to the crowd, you must first find at least one objective test-bed to provide you with two invaluable things: honest feedback, and a new-found willingness to listen to that feedback and act with detachment.
You may find a useful test-bed for your project presentation in many places, but a local small-business networking event often works very well. One that you’ve not attended for long enough to build relationships at of course. If you’re feeling braver still, then why not consider presenting to a number of different groups of people? Students at a college perhaps. Or residents at a retirement home, a staff room at a school, the canteen of nearby factory, a local interest group of some kind. Remember to tailor the audiences you choose by their relevance to your potential market, and not because they might be less scary – scary is good!
So please try and be courageous and risk a little rejection and hurtful criticism in the short term – ultimately it will help your brainchild to grow up big, strong and successful, without having to take its very first steps in front of that unforgiving crowd…
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