I’ve been doing research about a potential Kickstarter project of my own, and in the process I came across Fred Benenson’s blog post “Kickstarter Fulfillment and Product Development: A Story of Dogfood and Data Validation.” This past summer, Benenson created a project to make T-shirts satirizing the SOPA laws being considered by congress.
The blog post is an incredibly detailed account of how he fulfilled the T-shirt order after he met his goal: he ordered the T-shirts himself, had them sent to the printer, picked them up, weighed out the postage for different numbers of shirts, packed the shirts in Tyvek envelopes, printed digital postage, and mailed them off.
I’ve dug pretty deep into the Internets, and as best I can tell, this is the most detailed write-up of any project. There are a few forum discussions about shipping costs (which is one of the parts that I was most interested in), in particular international shipping costs, but nothing that details the process to completely from start to finish. This was especially helpful since I’m considering doing a T-shirt project, and I should be able to use a lot of this as a framework and plug in my own numbers.
Two things his project also confirmed for me:
– Start with a reasonable goal.
– Be ready for more.
Benenson’s goal was $1000, and he raised nearly 400% of that, ending close to $4000. Very interesting numbers. I’m curious how he decided on $1000 as his goal. The one thing he doesn’t talk about in the post is how he set that goal, what kind of math he did to make sure that would be enough to buy X T-shirts for X backers. This is the kind of thing I’ve been wrestling with, with the help of quotes from printers.
Side note: In the comments he says he only made just over $400 profit. Making profit on Kickstarter projects is a different topic for a different post on a different day, one that I’m very curious about.
Benenson also happens to work for Kickstarter, and the three projects he’s created are an interesting way to track the development of Kickstarter. In 2009, he did an emoji translation of Moby Dick, and in 2010 he raised money to throw a Hackers-themed party to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the movie.
After reading this post, I had a lot of respect for Benenson as an individual and Kickstarter as a company. They are thinking long and deep about how things work.
And, damn, Benenson has backed 177 projects.