03: Friends, Family, and “Fools” (FFF)

This episode presents how to validate your new crowdfunding idea before you ever spend a single dollar. This is one of the most important pre-launch strategies you MUST do if you’re going to have a successful crowdfunding campaign.


1. Don’t wait until your crowdfunding campaigns launches before you try to determine if anyone actually wants to buy your product/service; instead, overcome doubt and/or fear to test the market.
2. Your family, friends, and other personal contacts can not only provide “safe” feedback about your ideas, but also pledge to enhance your campaign’s first-day success.
3. “An entrepreneur should be committed to success, and not to their idea,” so never fear to fail and learn and improve until you achieve success.


[01:00] Zach and Thomas introduce their “Family, Friends, and Fools” (FFF) strategy that can help crowdfunding campaigners to raise $50,000 or more within the first 24-48 hours.
[02:12] Zach and Thomas explain that, as you develop an innovative new product, it helps to overcome doubts and/or fears to ask consumers (including your personal contacts) whether-or-not they are actually willing to pay for what you’re developing, which can provide you with valuable feedback.
[09:15] Zach and Thomas explain that crowdfunding is not only about raising money but also about validating products/services, and that we shouldn’t fear failure but learn from it, and keep both learning and improving until we succeed.
[11:14] Zach presents a concrete example of how you can implement this FFF strategy.
[14:00] Zach announces Funded Today’s book that will be crowdfunded with help from this FFF strategy.
[17:43] Zach and Thomas explain how this FFF strategy can bring a deluge of pledges on your first day that will boost your rankings, which will encourage more pledges from other sources.
[25:08] 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 to discuss how to validate your new crowdfunding idea before you ever spend a single dollar. This is one of the most important prelaunch strategies you must do if you're going to have a successful crowdfunding campaign. 

Announcer: (00:19) The funded today podcast is hosted by world renowned entrepreneurs and business experts, Thomas Alvord and Zack Smith. To get help with your next big business idea or to take your business to the next level, go to the funded today.com. 

Zach Smith: (00:34) Welcome back. I'm Zach Smith and I'm Thomas Alvord, and as you might remember in our last episode, we talked about the surprisingly simple formula for coming up with new product ideas and how you can use your customer or back or feedback to generate great new ideas on demand. So if you missed our last episode, definitely go back and check that one out. I think you're gonna find a lot of things to take action on to really get you going to launch your next campaign. Check it out. Now, today's episode, we want to talk about the single most important thing you need to do once you have used our formula to come up with your new idea. By applying the strategy we're going to show you. We've seen our clients raise upwards of $50,000 or more within just the first 24 hours of launching their crowdfunding campaign. This is probably the most overlooked strategy that we constantly seem to be beating down our clients' throats to get them to do it, and it's something that Thomas said I feel so passionate about because it works. 

Thomas Alvord: (01:25) A strategy is simple. We call it the triple F, which stands for friends, family and fools, and basically the triple f says that before you launch your campaign, you want to go and get 100 or 200 or maybe even 500 people who will back your campaign. On the very first day that you launch. And this might seem simple, but again, we've seen campaigns that will go and raise $100,000 in the first 48 hours. And it's primarily because of their friends and their family and what we call fools people who are just thrown in money even though, hey, maybe it's not the best idea there. They're just helping out. Right. And there's, there's a few reasons you want to do this besides the money you're going to raise. Um, but we'll, we'll dive in and break down each of those point by point. 

Zach Smith: (02:19) Now you might remember on our last episode, I shared the story of a client of ours, pretty successful business, but this particular product was struggling, is struggling. I want to just quickly rehash the story because I think it's really important. I asked him because he only had 20 backers and he'd been on kickstarter for about a week or so, and I said 20 backers. I've got more friends and family than 20 people. Where are these people? Well, I didn't do that. 20 backers. Why did you even create this product? Well, I had four years of research and development for years of research and development. In those four years of research and development, did you ever think to ask a thousand people whether they wanted this idea, whether they give money for this idea? To me it's just baffling and quite honestly I know I share this story and I sound so exasperated an mom, but it happens quite a bit. I'd say it happens more often than not where we get a client, they've launched a product, the product is failing and they haven't even done the triple f. Why? Why do the triple up Thomas? I mean, what's the value of the triple f? 

Thomas Alvord: (03:20) Well, first off, why do people not do the triple f and it comes down to fear and we lie to ourselves because we say I can't go and ask so and so because they're not going to be interested in this type of product or more importantly, I can't show my product and ask people for their support because it's not done or I need to add this or add that. I'm an inventor. I'm a creator. I'm not a salesman. I can't sell my product, and really it's where the rubber meets the road. We don't want to know what people are going to say because they might reject it and it's the fear of people saying, I actually don't like that idea, and so literally we go on and on and on without actually getting people's feedback. Now, here's what happens. You might go to your friend or your family or your colleague at work or somewhere else and share your idea and they might say, wow, that's actually a pretty cool idea, but guess what? 

They probably don't want to buy the product. Or maybe they do. Maybe they don't, but you don't know because you haven't asked them, will you support my campaign on the day I launch? And that is what the triple F is all about. That you're creating a list of a hundred plus people that on the day you launch, you know that they're going to support your campaign and so you're asking them, hey mom, on the day I launch, I'm planning on launching two weeks or two months from now or whenever on this date and I'm trying to get 100 people who will support my campaign on the day I launch. Here's what the campaign is, I'm going to have these different pledge levels that you can make a pledge on and that you would receive in exchange these different rewards on the day I launch, could I get your commitment that you'll make a pledge of xml and get them to say yes or no, and here's what's going to happen. They might say, uh, I don't know. I don't, I don't think I would use it, and that is part of what you also want to get. 

Zach Smith: (05:24) Entrepreneurs are so misled. I guess that's the word I wanna use it. Let's get psychological for a second here. You're afraid to ask somebody to have your baby, to have your new idea rejected, but here's how to avoid that, and this is something I practice in my life all the time. Simple question. You ask yourself, what's the worst that can happen? And then go through that. Play that out in your mind. Well, if my best friend says no, I wouldn't give you 100 bucks for that idea. I think it sucks. It's a terrible idea. Why did you even invent this? What's the worst that can happen? He says that to you and you determine if you're still gonna. Be Friends with him or not. Nobody likes your idea. Okay, you gotta go and bed to new idea. Go back and listen to our last episode and we'll show you how to invent a new idea or come up with a new idea. Really the worst that can happen is not that bad. Nobody's going to die. You have to ask the hard questions if you want to get the answers to figure out whether or not you have a good idea or not, 

Thomas Alvord: (06:24) and I have a phrase I've come up with an entrepreneur should be committed to success and not to their idea. Who cares about an idea like the reality is ideas don't matter at all and the most successful people we've seen on crowd funding who had $9,000,000 campaigns like Hurrah with callbacks, they subsequently will go and launch another campaign and it doesn't even hardly raise 50,000 and they canceled their campaign. 

Zach Smith: (06:51) So many people want to come to us and say, Hey, I've got this Nda. Will you sign this nda? I can't tell you about my idea and well, of course whenever I'm going to steal anybody's idea and it's like, oh my gosh, we're wasting all this time with legal and don't get me wrong. There are some good things with legal and things you want to take care of and you should absolutely consult an attorney and talk about those sorts of things, but it's like take action, get feedback, figure out whether something makes sense or not. Don't waste so much time worrying about all of these things that don't even matter because you haven't made any money, so nobody really wants to copy your idea. It's all about execution. Ideas are a dime a dozen. We say this so many times, but everybody's got the next big idea, the great thing, the next facebook suddenly is going to raise a billion dollars. You just have to sign all this stuff and we know it's going to work and how do you know what's going to work? Nine Times out of 10, no joke. When I ask people this question, they're like, well, did you ask anybody? I don't like it. I don't like your idea. Why would I back your idea? That's one of the best question you ask yourself. Do you like your own idea? Did you invent your product to solve a need that makes your life better? If you didn't do that, you might be in the wrong space right off the bat. Get validation. There's that word again that we talked about right from the beginning. Validation, the way you get validation, triple f 

Thomas Alvord: (08:04) listing about crowdfunding is you can launch a campaign and validate if people are interested in your idea, your creation, your new venture before you actually go and mass produce it and spend all this time having to do it or even completely building out the idea or the product that that is the whole concept of crowd funding and so what we are proposing and what we encourage everyone to do is you actually go a little bit further, one step further and you do the triple f so you can get that feedback. You don't usually want the feedback mentally, psychologically, but in practice you need that feedback more than anything, so you're not somebody who works for years on an idea or maybe years. Maybe you have this idea that you've had in your head for 15 or 20 years and you've never executed on it, and I know people like that and they're too scared to make the ask and so this is one of the easiest ways to make the ask in a friendly environment because it's your friends and your family and get their feedback and really crowd funding. It's a double edge sword or a two sided coin you could say. Right? On the one hand, it's about raising the money. On the other hand, it's about validating, so even if you launch and you fell, it's not a failure because you just realized, hey, this product is not going to be a good fit, at least for an online product with marketing and for that platform, it's likely not going to work. 

Zach Smith: (09:39) Thomas and I have read hundreds of millions of dollars for thousands of campaigns now and quite often there's campaigns that still fell that we work with. That's fine, doesn't mean we're a failure. We're not emotionally attached to the ideas. We're emotionally attached to success and we pivot and we adapt and we change and then we find success. It might not be on this idea, might not be on the next idea, might not be on the 10th idea, but on the 11th idea, we raised a million bucks 

Thomas Alvord: (10:05) and how many of the largest, most successful companies with the brightest people in the world such as Google or Amazon launched new products that completely fell right, but that doesn't mean they're failures. It's just there's not a market for that idea and that's okay and you move on and you go to the next thing. And so with the triple f, in addition to being able to validate and get some of that feedback and to actually use that feedback, someone might say, I like the idea. I don't think I would use it because of x, y, and Z. Well, there you go. And if that becomes a common theme, maybe it's something that is more generic in the market that you need to address as opposed to somebody who maybe is an outlier and you know their interests or idiosyncrasies don't really apply and creating a a product you want to take to the market. 

Zach Smith: (11:00) I love your new wallet idea. I just wish it had a slot for some cash. I love your new wallet idea. I just wish it was just a little bit larger and it came in Brown as well as black because it would match my outfits better. That's the kind of feedback you're going to get when you go with triple f. So let's talk about a little bit how to put triple f into action. So it's not just some kind of phrase or idea or some abstract belief. Thomas Kinda hinted on it with the question you want to ask. It's really simple. I call it give me your cash and it works just like this. Let's just start with mom. That's weak. She's going to probably say yes 100 percent of the time. If she doesn't, that's when you stop. That's when you stop and you say, okay, I've got a really bad idea.  My Mom's not even gonna. Give me 20 bucks. But if I were to ask my mom for a wallet that I invented, let's just use that as an example. Hey mom, here's a wallet. I've sewed up a little prototype. Here's why it's great. Here's why I think it's great. Here's why I invented it. It's going to be 20 bucks. It will retail for. I'm going to sell it for 20 on kickstarter as a discount to you and others. Will you give me 20 bucks on August? Second, 2018 at 11:00 AM nowten daylight time. Can I put your name down on a spreadsheet and commit you to give me 20 bucks? You're going to back on kickstarter or Indiegogo and can I commit you to give me 20 bucks as soon as I launch?

Thomas Alvord: (12:12) I don't. I will back it, but I don't think I would actually use it. 

Zach Smith: (12:16) Oh, okay. Interesting. So why not? I mean, what do you not like it wrong? Color. Not a good idea. I mean,

Thomas Alvord: (12:22) no, it's just really bulky. It looks more like a men's wallet, so I don't know who. If you're targeting men and women, it's not really gonna kind of my pocket. I could put them in my purse. I usually don't take my place as though.

Zach Smith: (12:34) Is it the bulk that bothers you the most? Or is it perhaps a different color would make it so that it would appeal to more females like yourself?

Thomas Alvord: (12:40) Yeah, I think mainly the size. Like to just put okay, so much in there. I liked to just have more of a general wallet so it can fit in my pocket.

Zach Smith: (12:48) So do you think if I removed a pocket or two and it's trimmed it down what it kind of solve all your needs and maybe made it come in like a red or pink or yellow color as well? Light blue?

Thomas Alvord: (12:57) Yeah. I think if you had something besides just a black that's more kind of manly, that could work.

Zach Smith: (13:04) Okay, perfect. Let me go back to the drawing table, mock something up and I'll bring it back to you in a. In a couple of days when I have the next little prototype and I'll have a look at it. Thanks so much for your feedback. Boom. That's a validation. She rejected me, but I got a little bit of feedback on it. My Mom's pretty strict too. Seems like, let's say she accepted it. The other thing is, yeah, I love it. It's great. I go to my dad. Hey, that thing's amazing. Perfect. Slip the minimalistic little bulky so it's still got that nice fill in my pocket so I don't lose it. I love it. I'll give you 20 bucks for sure. If he says that I put his name down, Todd Smith, phone number, email, and I say, Todd Smith has committed for 20 bucks. 

By the way, how cool would it be if this was already all automated for you? That's what Thomas and I have done. We've got an entire google sheet. It'll be available in the show notes. We will share it with everybody. Listen to this podcast. We encourage you to take it and use it and perform the triple f. now, just to show we're not messing around here, we are going to do this ourselves. You may or may not know this, but funded today has been in the process of writing a book and we're real close. We are going to be done and we're going to be launching sometime this year. We're tentatively shooting for October, but stay tuned. It might, uh, we might have a firm date on that coming up shortly. Now we're going to practice triple f. Our goal is 1000 or more people from our friends, our family, our network, and any other person who believes in this book enough to, to want to fund it.

Thomas Alvord: (14:33) And to clarify that 1000 people, that's a thousand people for you and a thousand people for me. And then we're going to ask people in our company who obviously work at funded today to go and get 10, 25 people that they know show on the day we launched. We have 4,000 people who will go back to campaign. 

Zach Smith: (15:04) We will not launch that campaign until we hit those numbers. If we don't get to a thousand dollars a thousand for thomas x number for everybody in our company, we're taking triple f to an all star level. Meaning if we don't have our certain number of people before we launch, we're not launching. We're not even going to bring this product into the world until we know that there are x number of thousands of people who are going to pay $20 for this book 

Thomas Alvord: (15:26) and with the triple a spreadsheet that Zach mentioned that you can find in the show notes, how that set up. There's actually a tab for each person who is reaching out to their friends and their family to be able to put their information in the sheet. So I'll have my own tab. Zach will have his own tab. Each of our reps will have their own tab and as pledges come in, we'll be able to say, hey, Janell just made a pledge and we'll be able to mark that. And then there's another tab that actually tallies all of the tabs together and has like a leaderboard so you can kind of have a competition. You know very often people launch a business with a partner or a team and so this way all of you can work together, but you each have your own tablet, you see the impact each person's having and kind of have a leaderboard so you can kind of gamify it. 

Zach Smith: (16:12) It really is fun right now, and this is what I'd recommend everybody to do. Thomas and I are putting together a list of everybody we can think of. We're going to include them all on the tab called Zach and Thomas and we won't even put a status yet. We're just write them all down, names, emails, phone numbers, and then we contact them. Hey, I'm going to have a thousand other people back this campaign if I can guarantee that a thousand other people are going to back this campaign. Can I put you down as one of my first thousand people for Twenty Bucks for funded today? The book launching in October 2018 give Zach, I'd love to. Sounds great. Okay, great. I'll put you down for committed and I will hit you up for 20 bucks. When we launched in October. Boom. Done so first step, put down everybody you can notice, write them all down, get it all done batshit. 

Then contact them all one by one individually. This is the most important thing you can do if you're going to launch a new product and you should not launch this product until you have talked to. We used to say a 100, right? But Thomas and I again were taken to all star level. We've got all kinds of cool things we're doing. Our goal is to have thousands upon thousands, maybe even 10,000 people by the time we launch, we're going to have 10,000 people between all of our networks and everybody who works with us to pledge and guess how much money that is ready for this. This is what's crazy. Before we've even validated the idea, we have $200,000 of potential money coming in for this book that we're putting together. Pretty exciting, right? So get that in the show notes and definitely start practicing fff this way. This is the best way to do it. 

Thomas Alvord: (17:40) Another benefit of the triple f is that on the day you launch, you will have a delusion of pledges and new which will boost your rankings in kickstarters, trending, popular, and magic categories, which basically means you're gonna get a lot of organic love from kickstarter. So if on the day you launch you line up, say $10,000 worth of pledges, you're probably going to get maybe another five to $20,000. It could be usually double what you actually track for or what you drive. You'll see double that amount from organic pledges happening on kickstarter. And again it could be more, it could be less, but generally that's about where it's at. So if we're able to drive $10,000 in pledges that we line up before we launch, we're probably going to be able to drive at least another five or $20,000. So we might end the day at $15,000 or maybe $40,000 raise just on the day that we launched. 

And why this is so important for some campaigns, believe it or not, that might be all of the money. They're really going to be able to raise on the campaign and we've seen this where a campaign literally has raised $150,000 and all of our other marketing somehow just completely doesn't convert. We send out a newsletter in our cashback network which usually on a good campaign could raise you know, 20, 40, $50,000 and on that campaign it literally raises like $100 and we're like absolutely baffled how in the world is this happening and the triple f is the reason why they were able to launch and it really comes down to your strategy and what you want to do. If you really are just trying to validate, still do the triple f so you can have a strong launch. But then if you're not able to raise money with your other marketing, then you might reconsider whether you want to keep running the campaign or you cancel it. 

But for some people they just need x amount. I just need $5,000 to have the capital. I need to go build this. And if that's the case, the triple f might be your very best bet. And then you might be able to look at it, okay, my products, $50, I'm going to go get 100 people. I'm going to go to my friends, my family. We were looking just earlier today, a kid who submitted to our website and he was looking for I think $750 to go build some smart home stuff and he's 14, 14 or 15. And I was looking at it. He probably doesn't have friends who can put in that money, but if he just went door to door to his neighbors and said, hey, I'm just trying to get 50 people who will each put in $100, if I can get 99 other people, would you be willing to put in $50 and go around and do that? That's the power of the triple f.

Zach Smith: (20:37) and that's perfect. Now I get this all the time, but Zech I am on kickstarter to raise money. Kickstarter crowd funding the crowd, right? Build it. And they will come, right? No, that couldn't be further from the truth. And maybe one kickstarter first started when there was less competition and less eyeballs. And it was still all the rage. You could put a wallet on kickstarter and then raise 100 grand. I've even heard stories of a couple people who built a great product and launched it on kickstarter and raised money. In fact, kickstarter, bless their hearts, will tell you sometimes if you create a good product, it's going to raise money. That's just so not true. It sickens me, quite frankly, to think that that is talked about. It's just not true. Kickstarter, crowdfunding, rewards based crowd funding in general is a paradoxical vehicle. What is paradoxical mean? Seemingly absurd self-contradictory. Here's why. If you want the crowd to come, you need to first bring the crowd. How do you bring the crowd? There is no better way than the triple f and then and only then once you bring the crowd, then the kickstarter crowd comes. 

Then you rank higher on kickstarter, which has millions and millions of visits a month. Then people start seeing your product. Then they see it in the popular, the trending, the magic, the kickstarter newsletter potentially features your campaign. You become a project of the day. This is the kind of thing that you need to employ. If you want to take advantage of crowdfunding, you got to do all your work first. Just like if you're an insurance agent, what do they tell you? Start with your friends. Ask them who they're using for their insurance. Try to get them a better deal than ask them which of your friends would be a good fit for this as well. Do you have anybody that you think I could also talk to that strategy works, but the power of that strategy is now you have the Internet, now you have kickstarter, now you have a platform, so you can do that at scale and it's way powerful and it's way exciting and honestly, every time I talk about this, Thomas can tell you I woke up in the middle of the night last night and talked to him about some of the strategies that we're doing just for this book funded today, the book that we're going to be applying with triple f. 

We practice what we preach. Why? Because it works and the only things you're gonna learn on this podcast are things that work because we have tested them, they're battle tested, they're proven, and we only do things at work. 80 slash 20, what's what can I spend 20 percent of my time doing that's going to generate 80 percent of my results were all about that law cradles. Principle is what we practice. An 80 slash 20 says get a few of your friends and family on board and then kickstarter will help to bring the rest 

Thomas Alvord: (23:12) to add two additional points or comments to what Zach has said. You might be thinking, I don't have time to reach out to all of these people. In reality, you don't have time not to do that. Otherwise you literally are chasing something that you haven't even validated yet because you might go and ask people and again and again, people might say no or people might say yes, they'll put in money because they support you. They're your friend. They're family, but I would still ask them, what do you. I appreciate that. What do you think of this? Do you think you'd use it? Do you like it is an interesting and get that feedback even though you don't want to ask the question because you're scared too. You don't want to feel offended or her. You don't want to hear from somebody else that your baby's ugly, so to speak, but that is the question you have to ask and and another point to what Zach had said, in addition to bringing the crowd, so the crowd from kickstarter will see your project. Another positive externality as as we call it internally at funded today, is the social proof. Once your campaign has hit its goal, there's more social proof, so if you're running ads, you're usually going to have a little bit of a higher conversion rate and especially if you're trying to land press a lot of outlets if you're pitching them, if you haven't hit your goal, they're not even going to write about you. 

Zach Smith: (24:37) Some of our best ads say this campaign got funded in 24 hours in a thousand people. I've already backed it. What are you waiting for? That kind of credibility only happens if you've done your homework upfront and quite frankly, it's a copout. If you say you don't have time to go do the triple f, whether you're the 14 year old kid thomas referenced or the Billion Dollar Company that's going to kickstarter to kickstart a new idea or test out a new marketplace. If you don't have time to solicit good feedback to make the pitch, make the ads for yourself, then what are you even doing

Thomas Alvord: (25:09) as we do on every episode? Here's our campaigns of the week for me, my campaigns, the errant backpack on kickstarter right now. What makes it unique is that when you open it, it kind of opens all the way up so it lays flat and you have so many different compartments where you could put your laptop or your tablet, you. There's a component for your charger. There's place. If you have documents, you needed to put A. There's. It's actually made so you could put like your daily needs, like a shirt if you needed to. You could travel with this like on a short trip. There's a place for your headphones. It also has like a water bottle built into it. Uh, there's a quick sleeve access, so if you're wearing it you can get to the side really quick and put stuff in there. Like your passport, there's like a hidden compartment, so just some really cool features and benefits there. So you should check that out. The, the errant backpack on kickstarter.

Zach Smith: (26:01) My product of the week is a pretty cool campaign called stratify at funnel day. We've had a lot of success with camera and video equipment related product in the past and it looks like this one's going to be no exception. It's already raised over 100 grand. It's a tripod that you were superior stabilization. It's quick to set up and you can travel with it, check it out instead of Phi s t e a d I f y stet of fights on kickstarter. Pretty cool product. If you are in the camera or photography or videography range, I think this will be a pretty cool product for you to pick up. And that's our show. Thanks for tuning in this week and the sure to catch our next episode where we'll discuss the value of launching a crowdfunding campaign even if your idea ultimately does not get funded and as always, remember, don't wait until tomorrow. Get funded today. 

Announcer: (26:52) Funded today is the worldwide leader in rewards based crowdfunding on kickstarter and indiegogo combined. They have raised over $200, million dollars and counting for thousands of new ideas and inventions or the wide. If you've got an idea for a new product or invention, does it fund it today.com to speak with one of their experts.

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