Three Americans came up with an idea for a new game where players take turns to draw a card until one overturns an exploding kitten and loses. It’s like Russian roulette but with kittens.
On January 27 this year they pitched their idea on Kickstarter, the crowdfunding platform, hoping to raise $10,000. In eight minutes they hit their target. Less than a month later they stopped taking money when they had raised $8.8m. What are they doing today? They are working on producing the game.
This just doesn’t seem to make sense in our world of serving local people with groceries and treats. In our world, accessing finance is often difficult. But is there a crowdfunding opportunity?
I think there is. But you need to learn the new rules to accessing finance and there is no better place to look than in The Art of the Start 2.0 by Guy Kawasaki, a former chief evangelist at Apple.
This book is designed for “anyone starting anything” and it will shake up your ideas about what sort of business leader you are. Kawasaki says you need to know how to pitch and not how to write business plans.
His tone is irreverent and if you like the following you will be able to tune into his wisdom: “Much later when raising a mezzanine round just before going public, you may have to produce a business plan, but at that point you’ll be using investment bankers and lawyers to write drivel to cover your ass.”
Crowdfunding, he explains, is for consumer deals where “you take pre-orders with rewards or ‘kickers’ to encourage people to pay for something that doesn’t exist. Kickers are discounts, mementos, gifts or clever ideas such as the right to name a character in a book or to hang out with your team”.
You spread the word about your crowdfunding deal through social media. The appeal is “getting something cool before other people or attaining the intrinsic reward of helping others.”
“People fund your project, which enables you to use other people’s money to complete it. You deliver on all the orders, word of mouth spreads and in an ideal world you build a great company.”
Crowdfunding is a good test of viability, Kawasaki argues. For example, if you want to crowdfund the idea of extending your retail business to provide food to go, then you will be able to assess just how many of your local customers will want to eat your food by how much money they commit ahead of time.
This opportunity does not exist in a vacuum. In order to win in this new world you need to think differently. Each of the book’s chapters tackles a key discipline that you need as a leader of your business today and provides great advice on how to improve yourself.
While Kawasaki’s target reader may be the founder of the next Google and based in the US, his advice easily transfers to the retail world and the UK.
For example, in chapter one he writes: “A good business model forces you to answer two questions: who has your money in their pockets, and how are you going to get it into your pocket? These questions may lack subtlety but making money isn’t a subtle process.”
Just as a pencil sharpener will help you write out a list, Art of the Start should be at your side as you map out your journey to success.
The Art of the Start 2.0 by Guy Kawasaki is available for purchase on Amazon