Like many other gadget creators, we had a dream to have our device change the world. To do that, we used Kickstarter, a well known platform to let creators get pre-orders before they start manufacturing to fund their project. It was a great opportunity for us to spread awareness about our innovation of the first force pad - the WRAEK Tactonic Pro! And wow, was it a journey to remember. Full of ups and downs and learnings - we just felt that it was something we HAD to share with everyone. This is our story of how we managed to weather the crazy storm called Kickstarter, forge amazing bonds within the team and land a 415% funded campaign to boot. Enjoy!
Kickstarter Press Conference
The great beginning of our Kickstarter journey was on the 25th of January, when we hosted a grand press conference with a surprising turnup of 15 journalists from several established media outlets in Singapore. At this event, we unveiled our plans to launch the Tactonic Pro campaign on Kickstarter in 2 days.
Our guests were absolutely hyped. The next day several of our PR guests – such as Tech360 to Geek Culture – wrote reviews full of anticipation for the WRAEK Tactonic Pro that they got to test and try themselves.
Needless to say, the conference was a huge success, and it created the perfect atmosphere for us to announce the upcoming launch of our Tactonic Pro project on Kickstarter to the rest of the world. A great start but perhaps the calm before the yet to come storm…
6 People 101 Task
There was an endless list of tasks to be accomplished in just 45 days, and yes, we had to start ticking things off the list from the first hour itself. It began with CJ’s 9-hour gaming stream, which extended all the way from 11pm until 8am in the morning. But that was not all; other folks in our team had their hands busy with the remaining, what seemed to be like 101 tasks to be taken care of. Ryan was talking with our ambassadors and reviewers, Esha was preparing messages for PR outreach, and Xin Lei and Evan were preparing quality content for social media channels. And there was more to be done in preparing ads for our campaign and fine-tuning our Kickstarter page based on the feedback we received from our backers.
Oh, but our tasks were not limited to Singapore – Pinzhang also flew off to China right before the launch to make sure that the manufacturing was done in time.
That was the moment we realized it was A LOT to take in. Having to cater to the US timing, barely sleeping, handling over 10 tasks each, still reeling from our press conference from 2 days ago… WHEW, and 44 more days to go!
Right People, Right Tasks
During the remaining 44 days, we wanted to have our hardware reviews out and ready to get some hype. Unfortunately, we had some hardware design and software delays, especially in terms of creating the prototype. CJ, who was responsible for liaising with ambassadors and building the prototype itself, was swamped. He was even down for an entire week because vaccination side effects hit him hard. The cherry on top of the cake was that he couldn’t even get proper rest because he had to manage time-zone boundaries while dealing with clients. Finally, it took a massive blow on him when things became too much to handle.
While we managed to secure a few excellent relationships and get a few prototypes out, we underestimated the time our partners would take to get themselves attuned to the product. That meant only one thing – our Kickstarter campaign would be lacking in reviews. That’s when Esha and Ryan came in with a godly combined PR effort that got over 50 media outlets to feature us. We also quickly responded to backers with a few review videos done in-house such as our work use-case videos and a video explaining the Tactonic Pro. Thankfully, this brought us back on track and things were finally looking up.
Quality Content Doesn’t Come Easily
During our campaign, Xin Lei was one of our biggest assets. We hit a bumpy road when it came to creating videos, but Xin Lei really popped off by coming out with mind-blowing videos. And it wasn't necessarily easy for her either. She watched dozens and dozens of videos on YouTube to learn the DOs and DON'Ts of videography.
However, we realized that this content could've been better prepared because, at the end of the day, quality content is subjective to people's tastes and preferences. And Kickstarter had a vast crowd interested in using our device for a variety of other purposes such as coding, work productivity, general use, etc., but we did not capitalize on any of it.
Guess who was there to save us from our doom? Xin Lei, of course! She, along with Ryan, put their heart and soul into filming the WRAEK Tactonic Pro For Work Productivity Video, which was a huge success for Xin Lei, considering she filmed it in a very short span of time with very limited equipment she had in possession. So, our takeaway lesson from this experience was to set aside time for quality content.
Building the Hype
The Kickstarter campaign was a huge learning experience for us. But we acknowledge that we misjudged certain aspects of the campaign, which resulted in some lost opportunities for the project. We definitely regret not talking with enough gamers to build the hype around the device, especially those concerned about the lack of input optimization devices. Which the Tactonic Pad definitely solves.
We could’ve achieved this by having a greater outreach through our social media channels, but it was only 1 month to our project when we started learning about the wonders of Twitter, Facebook Groups, and building a community online.
Twitter, one of the major social media platforms, has a large community interested in tech and gaming. We should’ve started posting and updating our WRAEK community way before our launch on Kickstarter. When we started building a community on Twitter, however, we had quite a crowd interested in our device as well as our content.
The same can be said for Facebook. When we started posting more on specific interest groups, we gained a small but significant audience from overseas, but that number could’ve been doubled or even tripled had we commenced our efforts months in advance.
All in all, in retrospect, we should have given ourselves more time to build up our community. BUT, if you would like to check out our Facebook community, you can find it here.
Troubles From Overseas (COVID strikes again)
What people didn’t know was the troubles that our cofounder, Pinzhang had in China. He not only had to serve a 21-day quarantine, but there were many many occasions when our factory, as well as other factories in close range, were placed under lockdown, which slowed down our manufacturing process, and proved to be huge roadblocks along the way. Thankfully, Pinzhang being a native of China himself, was able to navigate through his connections and secure our manufacturing relationship.
As of now, we will be diverting our full attention to material supply and shipping and regularly updating our backers in case of any changes over the next few months.
45 Days Done and Dusted
And just like that, before we knew it, we were at the cusp of the finish line. Even though many things did not go as planned, our efforts did not go in vain. A total of 129 backers supported our campaign. Moreover, we surpassed our funding goals by 415%. Over 300 Tactonic Pads were backed, and we received over 50 features from renowned media outlets.
All in all, the most valuable part of Kickstarter has been the opportunity to learn a seemingly unending list of lessons! It draws many parallels between launching an idea on a crowdfunding platform and selling a product on traditional eCommerce platforms, and we couldn’t have opted for a better experience.
Feel free to chat with us if you have any specific questions or want more Kickstarter tips (especially in the more technical marketing aspects). We will be happy to share with you! Otherwise, if you’re interested to learn more about WRAEK or see more content from us, follow us on all our social media channels listed here:
Co-written and edited with Esha Sarkar