Last week, I explained how Kittyo’s success was perfectly planned and that the project was funded even before it launched.

It worked.

Kittyo’s $30,000 Kickstarter goal was fully funded (100%) in only 45 minutes. They were 200% funded in just a few hours and just passed $200,000 with 19 days to go.

Today, we’re going to analyze exactly how Kittyo used what I call, “The MacGyver Trick” to raise $200,000 in two weeks and crush their Kickstarter goal.

Remember MacGyver?

Growing up, I used to watch Monday Night Football on TV every week. But one hour before the real-life gladiators locked horns in a physical battle, I would watch a fictional character triumph in an intellectual one.

Every episode, the show’s main character MacGyver, played brilliantly by Richard Dean Anderson, found himself in a dire situation, often created by a recurring villain or that episode’s antagonist-of-the-week.

And every time, MacGyver solved complex problems and got himself out of these tough jams using everyday objects, like his trusty Swiss Army Knife, duct tape and whatever else he could find at his disposal.

So what does this have to do with crowdfunding?

In the show, MacGyver’s backstory was being a Bomb Team Technician in Vietnam.

In many episodes, the bad guys had set a bomb or explosive device that MacGyver had to disarm, often with only a few suspenseful seconds on the clock.

Tick, tock…

What if, instead of only a few seconds to defuse the bomb, MacGyver had hours?

Or days? Or even months?

For one, it would have killed the suspense and ruined the show, but on the other hand, MacGyver would have had more time to do it right.

Most creators launch their crowdfunding campaign and only THEN start marketing and promotion, putting themselves in a stressful MacGyver-like situation.

The difference between you and MacGyver? Instead of 10 seconds until the bomb goes off, you have 30 days until your campaign ends.

Tick, tock…

MacGyver only had a few seconds to cut the red wire or blue wire.

But he didn’t have a choice. You do.

You can plan ahead and give yourself more time before you launch your crowdfunding campaign.

How Kittyo used “The MacGyver Trick” to raise $200,000 in two weeks

When Lee first came to me in September, 2013, we had coffee and discussed his upcoming launch of Kittyo.

He had a great idea. He a had great product design. He had a very clear market (cat owners.)

The one thing he needed was permission to talk to those cat owners.

There are lots of ways to build permission and trust. If you’ve been writing a well-read blog for years or have a robust email list, you already have permission. But most crowdfunding creators don’t have that.

Building permission is the single most impactful thing you can do before any crowdfunding project. And if you haven’t built that permission already, a well-designed landing page is the best way to do it.

So to start, you need to build a clear, well-designed landing page that gives people the opportunity to opt-in.

And you need to start early. Your landing page should be live at least a month or two before your campaign launches and ideally even longer.

The reason Lee and the Kittyo team were fully funded in 45 minutes (and are at $200,000 in only two weeks) is that they started building permission six months before they launched and they designed a great landing page to build permission.

Build a great landing page

Instead of cramming all the marketing and promotion into the 30 days of the campaign, we wanted to do the opposite. We wanted to build a base of people that we had permission to notify when the campaign launched.

Our process:

  1. Plan: Start early (ideally, months before launch) and design a marketing and press plan.
  2. Build: Build a great landing page that explains the product and allows you to collect emails from interested people.
  3. Launch: Launch the landing page to the world.
  4. Promote: Send traffic to the landing page by promoting it in various ways and in various channels (more on this in the next two posts). Test what works and what doesn’t and repeat what works well.

Lee agreed to push off the campaign launch date by a few months to give us more time to plan.

The key elements of a great landing page

So next, we had to build a great landing page. The key elements of a great landing page are fairly simple:

  1. The Headline: A great landing page must have a simple, clear headline that not only grabs viewers’ interest, but tells them exactly what to expect. You have about 3 seconds (maybe less) to compel them to keep reading. Clarity is critical.
  2. Supporting detail: It’s important to have some supporting detail below the headline, but not too much. You want the reader to finish reading and move on to…
  3. The Call-To-Action: A singular, call to action (email opt-in) as the primary design element on the page, above the fold.
  4. The Promise: A compelling promise or a reason to sign up (now, not later). Explain exactly what benefit the user gets by giving you their email.
  5. Design and Branding: Plain, text-heavy landing pages are boring. A great picture really is worth a thousand words. If you have a compelling video, even better. Colors, typography and consistently branded design elements are critical. Great design imbues trust and quality beyond the design itself.

Getting started is half done

You can’t optimize what isn’t built yet, so the first step is to build the landing page with the key components above.

It’s fine if it’s less than perfect. In fact, it should be. As French philosopher, writer and landing page designer Voltaire taught us, “the best is the enemy of the good”.

The important part is that it’s done.

Then you can start optimizing.

Kittyo Landing Page – Version 1:

The first version of the landing page Lee created was beautifully designed but had some issues, so the next step was to optimize the landing page.

Below is Lee’s first landing page, before optimization.

Let’s call this Version 1.

Note: These versions of Kittyo’s landing page were never previously published, but I promised to take you all “behind-the-scenes”, and Lee graciously agreed to let me show you everything to better demonstrate the process.

(You can click on any of the landing page images to view a larger version.)



Analysis of Version 1:

Now, let’s review it, using our simple 5-step landing page formula:

  1. The Headline: This “When you’re away…the cat will play.” headline is a clever riff on a well known phrase but it doesn’t explain the core benefit to the user in a compelling way, which is the main job of the headline.
  2. Supporting detail: In this version, there was still some lorem ipsum placeholder copy but there were a couple too many cat puns.
  3. The Call-To-Action: Initially, the opt-in box was too far down the page. Users had to scroll to the bottom of the page before they even had the chance to opt-in.
  4. The Promise: It’s not terrible but the “stay updated with our progress” doesn’t offer any additional benefit or incentive to signup.
  5. Design and Branding: This part was perfect. The Kittyo team has great design and branding, including crisp photography (both of the cats and of the product itself), great consistent colors and beautiful, clean typography. At this point, the Kittyo team didn’t have a shot of the product to add, but that would come in V2.


Kittyo Landing Page – Version 2:

After some recommendations, Lee’s team revised the landing page and version 2 was much better.



Analysis of Version 2:

Again, let’s review it, using our simple 5-step landing page formula:

  1. The Headline: The new main headline “Instant CATification” was still too much ‘cat pun’, but the sub-headline was improving and framing the specific user benefit much better.
  2. Supporting detail: In this version, the icons + bulleted features and benefits were clear and compelling.
  3. The Call-To-Action: Again, the main opt-in box is too far down at the bottom of the page. Another one was added in the header but neither were optimally placed, above the fold in the main part of the page as the primary call-to-action.
  4. The Promise: This promise is much better. It clearly explains that “Kittyo is currently in development and will be available for pre-order in early 2014. Simply sign up below (or on top of page), and we’ll keep you posted.” That’s a lot of good, specific information. The only thing missing is a more compelling reason for users to sign-up.
  5. Design and Branding: Again, the design and branding were stellar. This version included the new product shot with the laser and the photo of the cat.


Kittyo Landing Page – Version 3: “Ship it.”

In the final version Lee’s team executed in a big way and delivered one of the single best landing pages I’ve ever seen for any product or service.

Here is the final version (this version was live up until the Kickstarter launch on April 21st):



 Analysis of Version 3:

Again, let’s review the final version, using our simple 5-step landing page formula:

  1. The Headline: The new main headline is perfect. “Play With Your Cat. Even When You’re Not Home.” is clear and compelling. It describes the exact benefit to the user in simple, straightforward, human language.
  2. Supporting detail: The sub-headline was much improved and the icons + bulleted features and benefits helped support the value proposition.
  3. The Call-To-Action: The call-to-action was perfectly placed in the middle of the page, below the headline + sub-headline and right next to the large product “hero” image.
  4. The Promise: This promise is perfect. It not only explains that Kittyo is currently in development and will be launching soon on Kickstarter, but it also adds a compelling reason for users to sign-up, “Sign up below to find out when you can get Kittyo at a special discounted price.” This wasn’t just a gimmick, the early backers that opted-in to the page did get Kittyo at the cheapest “super early bird” $99 price, a level which sold out all 1,000 units quickly.
  5. Design and Branding: The design is basically perfect. Clean colors, consistent branding and ideal typography wrap around a huge, clear hero image of the product and a perfectly placed opt-in box.

So did it work?

In a word, absolutely.

The quality was proven out when the landing page converted traffic to email opt-ins at between 40-50%, depending on traffic source. (That means 40-50% of the visitors to page entered their email to receive updates.)

40-50% is well above the industry average.

Kudos to Lee and the Kittyo team for executing on the strategy and building an A+ landing page.


Launching your crowdfunding campaign and then starting the marketing and promotion is putting yourself in a MacGyver-like crisis situation.

Instead, start months ahead of time and build the perfect landing page to communicate your project to the right groups. Collect emails to gain permission to let them know when you launch. Offer a compelling reason for them to opt-in, like an early bird discount.

Next week: How Kittyo drove loads of traffic to their landing page

In next week’s post, we’ll explain exactly how Lee and the Kittyo team sent a TON of qualified traffic (not just any traffic but highly targeted cat-lovers) to their landing page, which resulted in collected over 13,000 emails in the months leading up to their Kickstarter launch.


Fun MacGyver extras

Fun, random facts and links about MacGyver (from Wikipedia and YouTube):

  1. The character’s full name was “Angus MacGyver”, although his first name is rarely uttered in the show.
  2. Henry Winkler (aka, “The Fonz”) was an executive producer of MacGyver, having just finished his run on Happy Days and looking for a new project.
  3. On the show, Richard Dean Anderson would almost always do his own stunts, though in later seasons he reduced his participation because of accumulating injuries.
  4. In 2006, Richard Dean Anderson appeared in a Super Bowl commercial for MasterCard. You can watch the full commercial, including a making-of interview here on YouTube.
  5. Want to see a classic MacGyver clip where he disarms a bomb with a paper clip? Enjoy. (It’s the clip where the image above came from.)


Photo credit: CBS Entertainment

  • Yvon Beaubrun

    Nice Clay, I like the part with the 3 landing pages and testing them.

    What I noticed on the landing page was the Headlines. The first couple of headlines are kind of word plays which kind of describe the product; but they are trying to be cute in Copywriting. But the last Headline says what it does, “Play With Your Cat When Your Not Home”. I don’t think most people realize how BIG the difference this makes in OPT INs. If you are just scanning websites, like most people do and they don’t get it they are not likely to take a deeper look and then OPT In.

    I’m interested to know how you are getting opt ins for this site.


    • Clay Hebert


      Exactly right. The headline needs to communicate the customer benefit, clearly and simply. I’m thrilled with what we ended up with (and more importantly, it worked).

      We’re getting opt-ins by getting qualified traffic to a well optimized landing page. This post was how we optimized it. Next week, we’ll talk about how we got the qualified traffic to it.

      Thanks for being here!

  • CrowdRounded

    A pre-campaign splash page is becoming an increasingly important strategy in crowdfunding.


    • Clay Hebert

      Absolutely. Building permission as early as possible is critical. A well-read blog (for years) is even better but since most people wait until the last minute, a landing page is often the best option.

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  • Marcus

    Hey Clay, thanks for these excellent and proven tips! Good job. It was also a pleasure to read your post.

    I can’t wait for your next post. When will you publish your next post with “TONs of qualified traffic … to the landing page”?

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  • Guest

    Wow. Great article. I love the breakdown of each attempt. I will do a landing page optimized both for my potential crowd funding supporters and markets (which happen to be very different) . Great blog in general.

  • Janelle Hinds Inc

    Wow. Great article. I love the breakdown of each attempt. I will do a landing page optimized both for my potential crowd funding supporters and markets (which happen to be very different) . Great blog in general.

  • Dane Homenick

    Massive value here brother. Thanks a ton. Off to read the follow up now!

  • Zach Smith

    @clayhebert:disqus When are you going to write some more? Seriously! This is the best article I’ve read on “KIckstarter Prelaunch” in a very long time. Thanks for the clear examples and logical progression. This one is definitely going in our “Swipe File.”

    Thanks again for sharing! And, please: WRITE MORE!

    • Clay Hebert

      Thanks, Zach. I’ve been pretty heads down building my online course (so I can scale and help more people) but I have put out five or six more posts since this one. Check ’em out on the blog. I’d love to hear what you think. Thanks for the kind words and the push to keep publishing!

  • Saygin Celen

    Thanks Clay! Great Case and Analysis! Hoping to Launch Downtown with this in mind.

    • Clay Hebert

      Thanks, Saygin! It’s like blowing up a balloon and “popping it” when you launch. Did you watch the keynote of the video from Underground or listen to the audio interview with Dan Martell? Lots more tips in there.

  • Roman Koidl

    @Clay Hebert , love the landing page. It looks super professional. I am working on my food related Kickstarter Campaign and it seems very hard to get a nice landing page done if you’re on a budget. Any advice or leads?

    Many thanks. I appreciate it, roman

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  • Georjaiwin

    This article was very helpful, thanks a lot Clay! I will be doing my landing page keeping this in mind.

  • Michael Gabriel

    Maybe next time you’ll impress the Kittyo people with the idea that raising money isn’t their only concern. Building the device and getting it to the people whose money they took might be something to consider. It seems like ts been a year and a half now since I paid and still NO Kittyo. We are getting concerned. I see a lot of people asking the same question on the Internet – this was an expensive item – when do we get it ?

    • Rusty Shackleferd

      Rich white people getting duped and they deserve it. A kitty cam? you people care more about your pets than homeless people,than struggling students ,who can’t afford the american super inflated education co$t. You all deserve to be swindled by conniving gluttony white people. Evil shall slay the wicked. The serpent shall eat its tail.

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  • Timmy Eastman

    Hi Clay, really enjoyed this post. I was wondering, how did they create the website? What host/ service did they use to make it look so effective? Thanks

  • Now Age

    So helpful…..thank you so much Clay!

    • Now Age

      I’ve been checking this article back and forth for the past week and shaping (hopefully) a killer landing page. Blessings to you!

  • Unknowingreaper

    What did you use to build your landing page

  • Omar Ting

    Thanks for this article Clay. I’m late to the game, but learning from all you gurus!

  • Harris Roberts

    Wow great case study! I wrote an article on how to create one of these pages. I agree 100% to put the CTA above the fold. Not a bad idea to also include at the bottom of the page in addition. Here is the article if you want to look:

  • firmware4U

    I am about to launch my third kickstarer campaign, this is something which I did for my last one, but could have definitely used these tips. Well done!

  • Nelson Nigel

    Do you recommend hosting a crowdfunding page on a company website? What are your thoughts? ty

  • Michael Tan

    Thanks man, even though this is ages ago, I think it still works today