Case Study: Crowdfunding Lessons From Minaal

“That bag is your girlfriend.”

That’s what the Vietnamese waitress told Jimmy and Doug as she brought them their meal.

It wasn’t the first time she’d seen the prototype bag propped up in its own chair as my friends enjoyed their beers.

The bag had its own chair, because Doug and Jimmy were on a mission for even more feedback. They would proactively show it to travelers and locals and anyone who would stop to ask them what they thought.


It’s that obsession over product quality and listening to feedback from other travelers that has helped Jimmy and Doug raise over $1 million through two wildly popular Kickstarter campaigns.

  • Two regular guys from New Zealand.
  • Two Kickstarter campaigns (just over two years apart).
  • Two products.
  • One new travel brand.
  • Over a million dollars raised.

In this video interview, Jimmy and Doug reveal how they turned their idea into Minaal, a popular bag company and how they’re turning Minaal from “just” a bag company into a true lifestyle and travel brand.

Before you watch the video, check out Minaal’s amazing second Kickstarter campaign.

It’s ending soon, and it’s your only chance to buy any of their products lower than full price. Even if you don’t need a travel bag, the 24-second intro to their campaign video is priceless.

In the video above, Jimmy and Doug of Minaal share their crowdfunding lessons…

  1. How they initially met and started Minaal and how it’s evolving from just a bag company to a true lifestyle brand
  2. How a road-trip adventure across the U.S. in a used van and sleeping in Walmart parking lots inspired the creation of Minaal
  3. Why the “lightbulb moment” for Minaal wasn’t a single moment, but actually years of frustration
  4. Why as entrepreneurs, we should be thankful for bad products
  5. How Jimmy and Doug discovered Kickstarter and decided to use crowdfunding to launch Minaal in 2013
  6. How two non-product designers (Jimmy says he could only draw stick figures) designed a functional prototype in a few short months
  7. You can hire out design, but you can’t hire out someone willing to care deeply about the product quality and usability
  8. Why Minaal was never a “hobby” and was designed as a serious, money-making project from day one
  9. How Jimmy and Doug see the future vision of Minaal and how they structured the business to achieve their personal entrepreneurial goals (and what’s next)
  10. How the passionate tribe they’ve built keep Doug and Jimmy going and the role that tribe played in the evolution of the product, the growth of the business and both Kickstarter campaigns
  11. How Jimmy and Doug found their future customers and then relentlessly ask questions and proactively listen to feedback
  12. The importance of having a working prototype and using it to gather in-person feedback
  13. How they prepared for the first campaign, including how they set their initial funding goal, including minimum order quantities, shipping costs and how much they would be willing to “top off” the campaign if they were short
  14. The critical importance of “scenario planning”, meaning running many different backer scenarios (both good and bad) before you launch
  15. Why most crowdfunding projects get fulfilled late (and how Minaal planned and prepared to deliver on-time)
  16. How Minaal structured their pre-launch marketing, including teasing images of the bag on social media
  17. How they overcame not having a large email list before launching their first campaign (only ~500-1000)
  18. The importance of focusing on a super specific customer avatar and laser-focus on your specific niche instead of aiming for mass appeal
  19. How building loads of personal relationships and being part of a community was more important to Minaal’s success than building a large email list
  20. The importance of a fast start for a Kickstarter campaign and how it can “snowball”
  21. How Minaal ignored the naysayers and ran a crowdfunding campaign with minimal frustration and angst
  22. The importance of frequent communication and updates, and why you should tell your backers exactly when you’ll post your next updates
  23. How Minaal’s first Kickstarter campaign solidified the creation of their passionate tribe
  24. How that tribe informed the product design process
  25. Why they weren’t sure their first campaign would work and how increased expectations made them just as nervous for their second campaign
  26. How they designed the video of their second campaign, balancing entertainment and humor while still highlighting their tribe and their product
  27. How they made a longer video (4:03) but kept it interesting, using each segment of the video to setup the next segment
  28. Why they focused on less press outreach and more on email marketing for their second campaign
  29. How they offered the best early-bird pricing to their existing audience, and offered a special launch notification only to newsletter subscribers
  30. Why traffic from niche publications (“cash press”) converts to backers much higher than big-name publications (“flash press”)
  31. Why they never discounts their products, except for pre-selling when they launch new units on Kickstarter
  32. The importance of finding your community, becoming a part of their story and making them a part of your story
  33. Why a crowdfunding campaign feels like a 400 meter sprint, but the finish line is really just the beginning
  34. Doug’s final tip: “Ask lots of questions and ask them as early as possible. Know that things can take a really long time. If you need to pause your campaign to get everything buttoned up, pause it. Don’t launch too soon.”
  35. Jimmy’s final tip: “Remove your ego from your design feedback process. Don’t lead people with what you think…ask them what they think. Don’t explain away their feedback. Sponge up every single bit and process it later.”
Did you enjoy the interview? Let me know in the comments below.
Zuddah Coconut Oil

Crowdfunding lessons from a six-time creator

Many creators are still planning and considering how to launch their first campaign.

Some already have one under their belt. Ambitious creators have done two campaigns.

Tyson Adams just launched his sixth. This time, for Zuddah Coconut Oil, his latest venture.

Because Tyson has done this before, his campaign is already 50% funded in just a few days.

I’ve known Tyson for years and we’ve collaborated on multiple projects, so this time, we thought it would be fun to bring you behind the scenes of a successful crowdfunding campaign.

So each week of his campaign, I’m going to interview Tyson live and we’re going to pull back the curtain and teach you the exact crowdfunding lessons you can use for your own campaign.

We just recorded the first of four interviews.

In Part 1 of 4, Tyson and I chat about:

• How Tyson started crowdfunding (1:50)
• How to craft quality, high-value rewards (3:02)
• How to make your brand sticky via crowdfunding (4:20)
• How Tyson fell in love with coconut oil (and then became a expert) (5:40)
• How to validate or invalidate other people’s advice (11:00)
• Why Tyson chose crowdfunding for a product he’s going to sell on Amazon (17:00)
• Tyson’s unique pre-launch marketing and branding plan (18:25)
• How Tyson chose the design and branding for Zuddah’s packaging (20:30)
• The importance of a specific customer avatar (22:00)
• How Tyson developed, planned and created his Zuddah Indiegogo campaign video (23:50)
• How to grab the viewer’s attention with your video (25:00)
• A great example of a crowdfunding video you can learn from (and mimic for your own campaign) (26:05)
• The importance of pricing your reward levels “below MSRP” (27:20)
• Why you need an impactful campaign headline that can stand on its own (28:45)
• One of the most common crowdfunding mistakes (and how to avoid it) (29:15)
• One part of your crowdfunding campaign page that you can edit after you go live (31:15)
• Why your campaign needs a “no-brainer” reward level (32:15)

You can watch the video below. If you can’t see the video, click here.

I’ll be talking more about Tyson’s campaign and answering your crowdfunding questions live at my next crowdfunding mini-course. The online mini-course is free and it’s live but seats are limited, so signup today.

How to crowdfund (my interview with James Altucher)

Last week, as I was making coffee and heard the familiar “beep” of a new chat message, I smiled when I saw the message from was my friend James Altucher.

Someone had asked James, “What’s the best way to crowdfund to raise money for my project?” for Ask Altucher, the daily Q&A podcast that he co-hosts with his wife Claudia.

James asked me if I’d jump on the show for 10 minutes and explain “how to crowdfund”.

Only 10 minutes?

As I was setting up my microphone, I was wondering how I could cover anything useful about crowdfunding in only ten minutes.

We did it anyway and ended up riffing for 25 minutes. We covered a lot of great stuff, including:

  • Why creatives have trouble asking for money (and why crowdfunding is the perfect solution for that) (4:15)
  • When the concept of Kickstarter was conceived (and why it didn’t get built until years later) (5:14)
  • How much money you should try to raise in your crowdfunding project (5:40)
  • One of the biggest myths about crowdfunding (6:12)
  • How the current largest Kickstarter project ever…actually failed the first time (6:28)
  • How to get people to keep contributing once you hit your goal (7:40)
  • One specific way to get the press to cover your project (8:45)
  • The biggest myth about what press does (and doesn’t do) for your crowdfunding project (9:30)
  • The one tactic you should steal from infomercials (9:50)
  • How design impacts your crowdfunding success (11:00)
  • How people view crowdfunding projects (12:20)
  • One of the biggest mistakes I see in crowdfunding (and what to do instead) (12:50)
  • How Matt Kepnes (Nomadic Matt) tripled his crowdfunding goal, even though his app only cost $1 (14:00)
  • What kinds of rewards reduce production and shipping costs (15:00)
  • How to make a great crowdfunding video (including what to address in the first 10 seconds) (16:25)
  • Why you should think “bottom-up” not “top-down” when promoting your project (18:10)
  • How Mike Del Ponte segmented and use his personal address book to find initial backers for his project (18:45)
  • The FIRST thing anyone who is even thinking about doing a crowdfunding project should do today (19:30)
  • How Kittyo used this trick to find 13,000 pre-launch emails and was funded in 36 minutes, 200% funded on the first day and raised over $270,000 (20:45)
  • How I got started helping people with crowdfunding (23:00)
  • Why good crowdfunding is good marketing (24:00)

Click the player below to listen directly or click here to open the episode in iTunes.

Ask Altucher: Ep 170 What’s The Best Way to Crowdfund?

The Power of Instant Media

It’s worth noting how quickly this all happened.

  • James pinged me on chat…
  • 12 minutes later, we were all chatting on the air.
  • Less than 24 hours later, the episode was live in iTunes and Stitcher for anyone in the world with an internet connection to listen to, for free.

No filters. No scheduling.

No gatekeepers who can say “no”.

Just James and Claudia, generously and instantly shipping their art for free, while building trust and permission with an audience who wants to hear from them.

You have this same opportunity. We all do.

Enjoy the holidays. Enjoy the your time with your family. Laugh. Play games. Have some egg nog.

But it’s worth spending some time thinking about what kind of media you can create?

What kind of art can you ship to start building trust and permission with people, so when you launch your crowdfunding project, they’re not only already on-board, they’re actually excited to hear from you?

Leave a comment below.

Enjoy the episode, and happy holidays!

See you next year!

– Clay