04: Failure, Pivoting, and Success
This episode goes deep. Real deep. We’re going to get real. We’re going to talk about emotions and feelings. What do I do when my campaign fails? And, most importantly: your crowdfunding campaign might fail, and that’s okay.
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1. You can’t normally know for certain whether an idea will succeed or fail until you test it.
2. Although entrepreneurs need to have both passion and faith, they should also remain humble enough to accept correction, as excessive and/or misplaced confidence can impede their ability to persistently learn-and-improve toward success.
3. Entrepreneurs should not commit themselves to their ideas as much as to success, which may involve altering their ideas or even abandoning those ideas completely to effectively serve the ever-changing marketplace.
[00:48] Zach reiterates that crowdfunding is not only about raising money but also about product/service validation.
[01:29] Thomas relates some personal experiences with “entremyopia,” which involves placing excessive faith in one’s own ideas while allowing intense passion to blind oneself to their flaws.
[03:43] Thomas reiterates that entrepreneurs should not fear failure, and should NOT be committed to their ideas as much as to success, which may involve altering or rejecting ideas that prove bad.
[04:27] Thomas notes that it’s rarely the people who intend to revolutionize the world who actually do so.
[05:45] Zach explains that excessive self-confidence can blind us to important truths that would otherwise help us learn-and-improve toward success.
[06:27] Zach introduces the case study of SHOTBOX with PANELS, which was failing until it solicited user feedback to redesign its campaign media in order to re-launch as SHOTBOX 2.0, which then proved to be highly successful.
[10:26] Thomas cites some examples of politicians who initially failed but eventually succeeded, and also notes that nobody can be sure that a product/service will either succeed or fail until they test it.
[13:02] Zach discusses how rewards-based crowdfunding enables entrepreneurs to test and fail and learn and improve unusually quickly, unlike many other means of starting new ventures.
[14:06] Zach urges entrepreneurs to be passionate, but also to prevent that passion from interfering with their ability to accept important facts from hard data.
[14:33] Thomas observes that success in rewards-based crowdfunding doesn’t automatically ensure success in e-commerce, and that e-commerce is constantly evolving also, which renders pivoting an endless process.
[16:29] Zach observes how one failure does not guarantee another failure, just as one success does not guarantee another success, and that we should never presume either.
[18:09] Thomas elaborates that an entrepreneur can fail many times repeatedly before finally succeeding wildly.
[20:23] Zach stresses that you never truly fail unless/until you stop trying.
[21:42] Zach and Thomas present this episode’s Projects of the Week.
Zach Smith: (00:00) Funded Today Nation welcome back to the Funded Today podcast. On today’s episode we’re going deep, real deep. We’re going to get real. We’re going to talk about emotions and feelings what do I do when my campaign fails, and most importantly your crowdfunding campaign might fail and that’s okay.
Announcer: (00:21) The Funded Today Podcast is hosted by World-Renowned Entrepreneurs and Business Experts Thomas Alvord and Zach Smith:, to get a help with your next big business idea or to take your business to the next level go to fundedtoday.com.
Zach Smith: (00:34) Welcome back to the Funded Today podcast, I’m Zach Smith:.
Thomas Alvord: (00:36) And I’m Thomas Alvord
Zach Smith: (00:37) And in our last episode we talked about the “Triple F” the single most important thing you must do when you’re trying to launch a campaign, so if you missed out on that one don’t listen to this episode you need to check that one out first. In today’s episode we want to talk about what happens when you launch a campaign in your idea tanks. Everybody worries about it, everybody is scared about it, it’s your baby you put your baby out to the world nobody wants it, that’s a problem right. First you probably didn’t try the Triple F, but even if you did and you have a campaign that is still failing you have options, there is more to Crowdfunding than raising money. You’re also launching a crowdfunding campaign to validate your product idea if it's a homerun you can run with it, on the other hand if it’s a failure or if it’s struggling or just not doing as much as you would like not even a base hit you can pivot to a new idea and keep going until you hit remarkable success.
Thomas Alvord: (01:27) I remember when I was in my Grad Program I sat down with one of my professors, I had this new idea I was working on it wasn’t Funded Today it was something else at the time I was so excited about it and I knew this was going to be revolutionary right? It was literally going to change the world and my professor after we spoke he said you know what just a heads up this idea might not work it might not be as big as you’re thinking. A lot of people who come they all think they have the next big idea and really they don’t, and I remember at the time I responded to my professor and I said yeah that probably is true for other people and for other ideas but that’s not the case with me. I know my ideas different this is going to be huge I was offended I was actually taken back before I share what happened with that idea I’m going to share one other story that happened it was maybe one of the fifth of the six campaign Zack and I ever worked with on Kickstarter It was a “metal wallet” actually and we ran some marketing it wasn’t working.
Back in those days we used to be a lot more blunt our come-to-Jesus moment with people was more kind of in your face, so people wouldn’t miss it we basically were telling them look this is not a good idea, it’s not converting the market doesn’t want it and the guy got so upset he started cussing at us, he started yelling, and he said you guys just watch I’m the next Steve Jobs blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, I think you might have even a hung up what’s so interesting is we’ve become so tied emotionally to our ideas and think this idea is going to be so amazing.
Going back to what happened with my professor the same thing happened to me I was saying you know what this idea is going to be so massive it’s going to be so huge and after four years of pushing it and pushing it and pushing it I finally came to the realization that it wasn’t a good idea, there wasn’t a market for IT, companies didn’t want this product there wasn’t a need for it. One of the things psychologically, mentally that you need to accustom your mind to or understand is your idea might fail and that’s perfectly okay, and you shouldn’t be so committed to the success of your idea. As I said on the last episode people should be committed to success not to their idea, I came up with the phrased word this I call it “entre myopia” right it's entrepreneurs who are myopic, they can’t see clearly, they think that their idea is so amazing it’s going to revolutionize the world, and that’s not the case. It could be the case and on a tangent and I wasn’t planning on bringing this up I have found that the people who have ideas that revolutionize the world very often we’re not planning on revolutionizing the world when they first started it.
Yeah, there is exception but in most cases it kind of just happens, it kind of just falls on their lap. For example when Zack and I started Funded Today our marketing and creative agency we weren’t even planning on starting it right and now a few years later we’re doing over ten million dollars in revenue a year. We weren’t planning on doing that it just happened, and it's interesting you see these popular celebrities and people who obtain success right, and they go and present at the “Super Bowl” and they say I never could imagine this that I would have made it this far, and for me to me I’m kind of thinking that’s really strange like you’re super successful of course you’d be at the “Super Bowl” of course you’d be presenting or of course would be the number one this or that but most people weren’t planning on having such great success and the ones who think they’re going to have amazing success I don’t think they always get there.
Zach Smith: (05:43) That’s such a good observation Thomas, I mean people are - people like that are so emotional they’re so attached to this idea, I can think of it. A lot of people in our own circle of friends and our network where they say man I’ve got this great idea it’s going to change the world, because they think like that as paradoxical as it might sound they are unable to pivot, and adapt, and change to what actually might change the world. Everybody likes a motivational quote “Winston Churchill” one of the greatest public orders of all time he says “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm” and then of course let’s go way back to “Ancient China and Confucius” “Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fell” and I want to hit that point home with an example from one of funded today’s clients the remarkable changes made to this campaign made all the difference and now this is an extremely successful business.
When “ShotBox 2.0” came to Funded Today “Aaron Johnson” the creator had raised about $8,000 and he wasn’t going to hit his funding goal of $15,000 and as we’ve talked about earlier on Kickstarter if you don’t have your funding goal you don’t get any your money. So he was even going to get the $8,000 he raised and he had no chance to get into the $15,000. Interestingly enough all of the strategies that Funded Today used to market this campaign weren’t working well either. Thomas to his credit noticed a lot of stuff wrong with the video in the page design that was not effectively selling the product in fact we’ll include some show notes to show you the before and after for the Campaign as it was when I had about $8,000 raised in the Campaign once it was successful, just so you can do some comparisons, but there was a lot of little things that although this product let’s talk about “ShotBox 2.0” for a second this was a product that you could use as a little pop-up and inside you could place a product and then you take out your smartphone or your DSLR camera and you take a picture of the product and it was a little “ShotBox” where you could take product shots of new products, and it was a really good invention.
The problem was even though it was meant to be beautifully displayed and have beautiful imagery and all kinds of pictures and stuff it just wasn’t that way, and the video was confusing and the reward structure was confusing, and all of the different elements on the presentation side of things just weren’t seeing it very well. Well, Aaron agreed with everything we said, he didn’t act like the guy from Canada and say “aye don’t you tell me what to do, this is the “ShotBox 2.0” it’s a 2.0 for a reason because people like the 1.0, no he wasn’t like that all he was like humble, he listened and in about the course of less than two weeks we turned this entire campaign around shot a new video, cleaned up the entire page restructured the rewards and launched, and these fixes resulted in a $184,791 bucks raised. Now they’ve raised hundreds of thousands of dollars and most recently he had a very nice spot on HSN where he sold a lot of product.
Your campaign might fail doesn’t mean it’s even a bad idea, sometimes there might just be something wrong with the presentation, your campaign might fail and people might not want it, and that was the first thing that we decided to do before we even back on a little bit and going a little bit further, let’s talk about how you can determine if people want your product. We’ve got the “FFF” right we’ve got the “Triple F” you’ve got your 200 hundred people lined up, they all tell you they’re going to give you $100 bucks for your product when you launch, but when you launch none of them do. What you do then?
Here’s what we did for “ShotBox 2.0” we created a survey and we messaged all of these FFFs all of these (friends, family, influencers fools) whoever wanted to back this product and we said would you like to own this product, why or why not question number one? Why didn’t you back this project? If you did back this project, what level did you back it at? How did you feel when watching this video product? What was your experience as you went through the page? Please share any questions you still have about the product. Are there any other backer options or rewards you’d like to see? Is there anything else you’d like to say about this project.
Every one of those were free response, to get as much user feedback from backers and prospective backers and people said they were going to back as possible, then we took all that information compiled it looked for the common themes and then changed the page design and changed the video to match what these people were saying, and those little tweaks and those little edits and that solicitation of user and backer feedback really made all the difference.
Thomas Alvord: (10:23) Some other interesting case studies that we can look at obviously most people have heard of “Barack Obama”. What most people might not realize is that he actually ran for the “US House of Representatives” in 2000 and he lost 60% to 30%, he lost but he learned from those mistakes he ran for the Senate in 2004, he won and then he ran for the “US Presidency” in 2008 and 2012 and of course won. Some people might have heard of another guy named “Bill Clinton” he actually ran for the “US House” in 1974 and he actually lost, and of course he later became a US President. And just one more case study there’s another guy by the name of George W Bush who ran for the “US House” in 1978 and he lost, but he later became a US President as well and obviously yeah they lost that specific campaign that race but they kept going right.
So you need to “Launcher Campaign” but don’t define yourself by that campaign whether it's good or whether it’s bad, and as I’ve mentioned before on some of the other podcast we’ve seen campaigns where the creator successful in the millions of dollars and then launches another campaign and a totally flops, again you don’t know how an idea is going to perform until you test it in the market, literally nobody can divine what is going to work and what’s not.
Look at the Venture Capitalist right if they have one out of ten that’s a homerun they’re happy right they understand 50% of the deals they put money on or more are totally going to flop and are not going to work out and these are people who are vetting new businesses, vetting new ideas who are in the business of doing this yet they can’t even guess right you literally don’t know until you put it to the market and that’s the beauty of crowdfunding right you’re able to do that on a lean startup budget a lean startup approach but if you fail it's okay, it doesn’t matter you just can’t be so committed to your idea right and we can’t be so in love with ourselves or with our ideas or think that somehow what we’re doing or what our idea is different the reality is it’s not and I think a serial entrepreneur is going to realize you launch a campaign you see how it does if it doesn’t work you go to something else right.
Zach Smith: (13:01) I love what you’re saying I love the blogposts since willing to this in the show note as well about why you’re crowdfunding campaign might fail and why that’s okay. And one of the words that really stood out to me and I think you invented it so good on you for this for the word was “entre-myopic” and I think that’s kind of exactly what you’ve been saying here we can’t be “entre-myopic” right? Our eye single to the vision of this one product and we can’t change and it has to be this way or else and I just love that because I think it summarizes what many entrepreneurs get stuck in, we can’t exhibit “entre-myopia” if we are going to be successful as an entrepreneur.
And what better way to get your product out to the market then “Rewards-Based Crowdfunding” on “Kickstarter” “Indiegogo” where you can get that product validation, and you can get that product validation in I mean on “ShotBox 2.0” we were what maybe seven to ten days before we realize this thing’s not going to work, we need to pivot and change two weeks later clean everything up launch again $200,000 a month later and here we are in HSN. I mean it can be real quick but you’ve got to recognize to separate the emotional elements that entre myopia as Thomas likes to call it from the hard data, the statistics, the facts, be in love be passionate be excited that’s what makes entrepreneurship so great, but use that passion to pursue evidence and not the emotional whims of what is inside your mind or a vision that you had as hard and cold as that might sound I think that’s the best advice I can give to a lot of young entrepreneurs out there.
Thomas Alvord: (14:37) And the commitment to success also really carries across the duration of the life of what your product or your business or your services right, looking at Crowdfunding Campaigns we see campaigns that have a successful raise and then they’re not on Kickstarter or Indiegogo they’re just running an e-commerce campaign and it doesn’t work it doesn’t convert they’re not able to drive traffic at a profitable ROI and so really they don’t have a business right and they realize oh you know what this market is actually declining, yeah it did well on Kickstarter it was fun but that industry just doesn’t work right that that market it's not there, and it doesn’t make sense to continue to pursue that idea so where do you pivot? How do you pivot? The best people that I know who do business they’re always seen where can they pivot, where can they grow right it’s the same thing you look at the biggest companies that are out there how do they grow typically the way they’re growing is through acquisitions right? They’re usually not building new things internally and they’re obviously not staying in whatever they’re niche or their industry is. Well yeah they keep doing that obviously to continue that revenue, but the Fortune 100, Fortune 500 Companies right there getting the inspiration. The new “Nascent Markets” and topping into those through acquisitions and so even they are always realizing everything is an evolution it’s always growing, it’s always morphing, it’s always changing and you have to be willing to pivot and to make those changes.
Zach Smith: (16:25) I think that’s so true Thomas and I have spoken around the world and we came up with 21 Lessons that we’ve learned throughout our Entrepreneurial Journey and I think two of those lessons are summarized very briefly in what we’ve talked about today, “Lesson No five 5” just go for it fail fast there’s a picture of a Dodgers player stealing home-plate, and the picture still has the ball in his hand he hasn’t thrown it to the catcher yet, and the batter is looking to swing, and here’s this guy on third-base probably 75% of the way to home-plate getting ready to slide in, that’s the type of mindset I think we need to have, and then remember one failure this is “Lesson No 6” from our presentation one failure does not yourself a failure make there are so many examples of this and I think maybe the most famous example is “Hiral Sanghavi” his “BauBax” raised $9.1 million on Kickstarter has anybody heard of the “Wireless Charging Apparel” I bet you haven’t because guess what it didn’t raise any money, he canceled the campaign, same exact guy, same exact mindset, same exact everything but his campaign which I think is the 6th or 7th most funded crowdfunding campaign in the history of Crowdfunding $9.1 raised $12 or $13 million raised when you combine “Indiegogo InDemand” his next idea Wireless Charging Apparel doesn’t ever raise a dollar and he actually lost I think he told me over $100,000 because he spent money on video and page design and all this other stuff to “success does not indicate future success, failure does not indicate future failure” and one failure does not mean you’re going to be a failure whole life be committed to success not just your idea of success.
Thomas Alvord: (18:07) And what’s interesting about that is you could be completely at the bottom, you could feel broken, you could feel bruge, you could feel be in, you could feel demolished and literally with one idea you might have had ten failures and with one new idea become a millionaire. I remember my mentor Perry Marshall listening to his info and his recordings and reading his blogpost and him reading or sharing of two people who had written in who literally were broke right one who was living out of his car and a another I can’t remember and they were completely broke and just a few months later both of them were now making over a million a year, and he was just sharing how powerful business is right.
You can make more money in business than doing anything else I was just commenting to Zack the other day yeah the top sports players they actually don’t make much money it doesn’t matter who they are because if you compare what the top sports players make compared to what the top business people make right, like the likes of “Bezos” and “Gates” etcetera they’re making way, way, way more money but the point is if you find the right idea it can change not only the world but it can change your life, and when I remember I was in the same situation like I shared on our first podcast I was dirt poor even though I had a Law Degree and a Master’s Degree I literally was going door-to-door selling these coupons just to make thirty bucks a piece but I remember listening to that and thinking that’s going to be me. So I might have been wrong with thinking my first idea was going to be a ticket I was wrong there but I was right thinking I’m going to be like those guys, I’m going to be a millionaire someday I’m going to make a million dollars every year, but it’s because I had to try again pick myself up and try something new.
Zack Smith: (20:21) My inspiration in my mindset is very similar to what you’ve just shared Thomas, and I look to one of my heroes “Steve Jobs” and we talk about failure quite a bit on this episode today and sometimes that can seem pretty gloomy, you know, hey we can fail and obviously if you want to hit a homerun every single time you step-up to the plate, you want to net that three pointer you want to score the soccer goal but sometimes it doesn’t work out that way, but as the saying goes you only are a failure when you stop trying and I think Steve Jobs said it best, when you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside this little world try not to bash into the walls too much, try to have a nice family have fun save a little money that’s a very limited life.
Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact everything around you that you call life was made-up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use and once you learn that your world will never be the same again.
Thomas Alvord: (21:39) It's that time of the week again the Funded Today product of the week, every week we pick a product that comes across as really neat and awesome and we share why we like it. For this week my pick is the “Airwirl” it’s a “Personal Cooling and Heating System” and the timing couldn’t be even better right we’ll talk about the “Seven P’s” in our future episode one of those “P’s” has to do with the timing of your product, and summertime everybody’s thinking about being hot these guys are from North Palm Beach Florida and they have invented a handheld personal air conditioner but it also can do cozy warm air in the wintertime. So check it out its “Airwirl” A-I-R-W-I-R-L not a lot of time left on Kickstarter, so by the time you listen this up so you’re probably not going to catch it but they’ll likely be an Indiegogo InDemand or selling on e-Commerce check them out I think you’ll like it.
Zach Smith: (22:28) My campaign is “Total Glue” and “Total Glue” is awesome because we’ve all had the frustration of Superglue or hot glue gun but basically this is super strong and you put the glue on it comes in this little pen like thing and once you put it on you expose it to blue light and within five seconds it dries and you’re done. So you should totally check it out it’s called “Total Glue” Thanks so much for tuning in today, we hope you learned a little bit about how to be attached to the idea of success, how to learn to pivot and to change and you’re going to apply the same example of people like Aaron Johnson of “ShotBox 2.0”.
In our next episode we will discuss our crowdfunding success matrix What do black holes, shooting stars and supernovas have in common with crowdfunding I think you’ll find it really interesting we’ll share with you this matrix and we’ll go over a couple ideas for what you can do to figure out which quadrant you’re in, and find a way to pivot to the best quadrant you’re going to want to tune into that and remember we are always looking for ideas and topics now that we’ve kind of been add for a little bit and you’ve kind of heard what we talk about as some of the knowledge we have what do you want to learn? What do you want to hear from us? Where can we help you, where you struggling? Comment in the show comments, comment in the notes, send us an e-mail we’ll be in touch we’re pretty accessible over the place so let’s make sure that we’re saying and talking about what you want to learn about as well in addition to some of the things we think you need to learn so that you can be successful. And remember as always don’t wait until tomorrow get Funded Today.
Announcer: (24:14) Funded Today is the worldwide leader in Rewards-Based Crowdfunding on Kickstarter and Indiegogo combined today have raised over $200 million and counting for thousands of new ideas innovations worldwide, if you’ve got an idea for a new product or invention visit fundedtoday.com to speak with one of their expert.
References and Resources
- Funded Today: Blog: “Learning from the Mistakes of the Edsel”
- Funded Today: Blog: “Products Sell Themselves Better with Help - The Power of Presentation”
- Funded Today: Blog: “Your Crowdfunding Campaign Might Fail. And That’s Okay. Here’s Why.”
- Funded Today: Podcast: “Funded Today’s Origin Story”
- Funded Today: Podcast: “The Market Matters Most in Business”
- Kickstarter: SHOTBOX 2.0
- Kickstarter: SHOTBOX with PANELS
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