The Leader's Guide

New book from Eric Ries, exclusively on Kickstarter

#3 Product of the DayMarch 16, 2015
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Hey everybody, Eric Ries here. Whelp, looks like this leaked out a bit early. We did a soft launch just for friends & family (and to work out some bugs) but the word got out. Turns out Kickstarter has a feature that notifies people who are following you (on Kickstarter) when you post a new product. I had no idea. So Hunter Walk managed to be the first backer (and tweet about it) before I even had the chance to send the F&F email that said "hey can you hold off tweeting until the morning." Oops. Although the early support is pretty magical. There's nothing quite like getting the notification that somebody you don't know believes in your work enough to give you their hard-earned money. Anyway, the official launch is in a couple hours. I'm speaking on the big stage at SXSW at 12:30 and the launch party is tonight. If any of you are in Austin, hope you'll stop by and stay hi. I've been a Product Hunt lurker before now, but appreciate the warm embrace by the community so far. I'll stick around for a couple hours (I'm seriously jetlagged having flown LHR->SFO->AUS to get here) if anyone has any questions. Nobody else at SXSW is awake, AFAICT. Best, Eric
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@ericries oops :) Yeah, once you hit that 'live' button on Kickstarter, it's all engines go. Next time around, do your F&F email before going live and include your project preview link - have them click the "notify me when this is live" button and they'll find out the moment it goes up.
hat-tip to @hunterwalk - who was apparently the first buyer
@hunterwalk @_jacksmith verified! he was (and is) #1. Thanks, Hunter!
@ericries hopefully you will have and audiobook available soon! Awaiting eagerly.
@hunterwalk @_jacksmith @ericries Well that makes things kind of interesting really - because we also saw @StartupLJackon identify that he's a backer (he posted a screenshot of the "edit pledge" screen, meaning he's already backed), and according to the TechCrunch article (, @hunterwalk is one of the candidates. What makes this more interesting is that even though Kickstarter removed the link at the end of 2014 that allowed you to view a project's backers, you can still access that page by adding /backers to a project URL: - something that not everybody knows, and something that @StartupLJackson may not have realised when he identified himself as a backer. Which means that we can take the list of @StartupLJackson suspects and find out if they're backers: Dustin Curtis - no Benedict Evans - no Eric Ries - no (for obvious reasons) Ben Horowitz - no Semil - no Balaji Srinivasan - no Chris Dixon - no Hunter Walk - YES! Dave McClure - no The plot thickens...
@_jacksmith @ericries @StartupLJackon @StartupLJackson @hunterwalk Well presumably it's one of those first 1300 people.
This will be good, especially since it's addressing the leadership aspect. I'm donating to this one with my custom workshop, as a $10,000.00 perk.
Best book trailer ever with the best part: "I know I need to do more than lock myself in the basement..." :)) Can't wait!
@meseali Really? I felt like he just wasn't able to talk in front of the camera very well and that the way they've edited it was an attempt to salvage it... I would've enjoyed this more if it felt more intentional :)
@rossdcurrie :) no clue how it actually went at the backstage but looks like they had fun shooting it :)
@meseali @rossdcurrie Haha, glad you think I'm that good an actor - our that our editor is that bad. Truth is, everything you see there was built from a script - including the gags and jokes.
@rossdcurrie @meseali definitely a fun day - was shot at this extremely scenic location in South San Francisco:
There doesn't seem to be a lot of planning to this as far as Kickstarter strategy. First of all, it looks like he launched this around 10pm (EST) on a Sunday night, which is quite probably one of the worst times to launch a Kickstarter campaign (mid-week in the morning). I mean, this is "Eric God-damn Ries", the guy who started the Lean Startup revolution that's gone around the world. He should've cleared 100k in the first hour for ONE book, not to mention that you actually get two books with this campaign. And on that note, I think the "two book" thing is also a bit confusing. The campaign is titled The Leader's Guide, but really this is about crowdsourcing his "next book". It kind of leaves me with the impression that he has no idea what to write about next, and so he's turning to his fans to try and get them to help him write it. But you know, $40 for two books is pretty damn good.. and once the US wakes up I'm sure his campaign will take off. I've just backed
@rossdcurrie Appreciate the feedback and (despite our clumsiness) that you decided to become a backer. Thank you. You know, your comments are really interesting to me. I got a lot of advice from various crowdfunding and Kickstarter experts. There's a lot of advice out there to help you stage-manage your campaign, controlling the release date and even manipulating the total amount to help make a better story for the press. Like, "Wow, that project was backed in 36 milliseconds!" I was literally still debating these issues with my team an hour before the (soft) launch last night. But I decided to stick with this plan. It's more vulnerable and (I hope) more authentic. We'll see how it plays out.
@ericries Well of course I backed. You're "Eric God-damn Ries"! :) But no, seriously, I think I'm developing a problem. I've backed something like 20 projects in the last month. Out of curiosity - which experts did you go to for advice? One of the things I've found in developing CrowdLoot, and in running my own campaign, is that there's really no 'guru' out there right now that is synonymous with Kickstarter. The biggest collection of experts I've found either fall into one of three categories: 1) Tabletop/Board/Card gamers like the guys in the Kickstarter Best Practices group on Facebook. They're an absolute wealth of knowledge but some of them tend to be focused on one-off projects rather than building a brand/business, and sometimes their vision is a little limited beyond the gaming industry. For example, if you check out you'll see some amazing analysis around optimal day/month/video-length which at the least shows some good correlative data, but when you dig into their source data it's all from the games section of Kickstarter. Part of what I want to do with CrowdLoot is to really expand the body of knowledge in the Kickstarter community beyond gaming, but that's a Phase 2 thing. 2) People who have run their own crowdfunding campaigns and had a decent level of success and can break down for you the things that they did. Some of these guys really know their stuff - take Pebble, they launched Pebble Time on a Tuesday and had something lined up for the infamous 'mid-campaign lull' that boosted their funding by $3m in a single day. But others really only know what works for them, or are doing things that can't easily be replicated (For the latter, Exploding Kittens had huge initial success because he's been building the community around The Oatmeal since 2009). The "Hacking Kickstarter" article by Tim Ferriss is another great example of this - there is some good advice in that article, but the reason Soma did so well is because it had "Tim God-damn Ferriss" promoting it. He has a massive community to leverage - and I think this is something you also have. 3) General Internet marketing people, or people who are involved with crowdfunding startups. Honestly, most of these have very little experience with Kickstarter. A lot of them are just jumping on the bandwagon. There's 1001 blogs out there with "how to fund on Kickstarter" written by people that really have no clue. At least the marketing experts understand basic marketing, but there really is a few things that you want to do differently with Kickstarter. One of the Phase 2 things I'm doing for CrowdLoot is writing the "Definitive Guide to Funding on Kickstarter", which will sort of be an updated version of Tim Ferriss' guide, with a lot more detail. I've reflected on my own project and spent a lot of time looking at various projects over the last year and I think I'll have something interesting to share... But for now, my general tips are: 1) Launch with a bang. Soft launches are not for Kickstarter. You can have a high goal, but you want to trigger every single friend, follower, fan, or other connection to pump as many backers into your project on day 1. If you don't have significant funding by your first few days, you won't hit the built-in "popularity" algorithms for Kickstarter that get you on the front page, and you'll drift off into nothing. 2) Build a community pre-launch. A lot of people launch their campaign and then try to build their tribe. You want to spend time building your community up so that (as above) the day you launch you can trigger them. Obviously you have the tribe, but I'm amazed that you haven't actually tweeted about your Kickstarter launch, though you've mentioned it was a bit of a soft launch (no hope of that now that you're on PH) 3) Trigger all your press for launch day. You want as much coverage on the first day as possible to really push those early backers. It's not so much about making headlines as it is about the psychological sheep mentality that people have when it comes to crowdfunding. Look at the number of people that backed Exploding KIttens, Pebble Time or even Potato Salad just because "everyone else was doing it" 4) Based on my experience finding new projects every day, Tuesday is the biggest day for new Kickstarter projects. I'm not sure what my verdict is on this except that if you list on Monday nobody might be watching; list on Tuesday and you might get lost in the crowd; list after Wednesday and you run the risk of people spending their weekly budget on Tuesday 5) Save something for the lull. Something amazing that everyone can tap into. You've got $40 from me now - how will you get another $30 from me in a week's time? For your campaign, any of the levels above $40 and up to the $100 mark could've been added in a week. It'd be something new and shiny to catch my attention. As mentioned, Pebble Time did this spectactularly, introducing Pebble Time Steel after they'd been stuck at $11m for three days. Disturbed Friends is another great example - 48 hours before close they announced a $12 expansion pack and shot up another $10k in 2 days to $70k before finishing. Other general thoughts on your campaign: - Some of this stuff doesn't apply to you obviously as you've got the star power to overcome some of the challenges faced by the average Kickstarter project creator. Whether you tweet on launch day or the day after, you'll still hit your funding goal easily, but the reality is that the earlier you start building that momentum, the better you'll do. - DId you know your developer pack and all-access pack are both $62? What's the advantage of the all-access pack if the developer pack includes everything from the all-access pack and more? - 24 different reward levels is generally considered excessive. I'd have to check my notes, but I believe the general wisdom is around 7-9 rewards. When in doubt, refer to Pebble. Launch with 7, add a few more throughout the campaign. Anyway.... wasn't my intention to write an essay. Think I failed on that :)
@rossdcurrie Wow, Ross, that's really useful stuff!
@rossdcurrie you rock! Thanks for the brain dump A+