A last-minute partnership with Posturite changed our manufacturing process a great deal. We felt confident that everyone would win on the partnership, but the aftermatch of the decision turned out to be a pretty good example on how not to communicate with backers after the campaign.
In the last days of our campaign we were steadily approaching the $60.000 goal, while we prepared for production. Then Posturite contacted us with an offer for the rights to commercialize, flew over and signed the deal - and all of a sudden all of our plans had changed.
The deal meant we would partner with Posturite and their 25 years of experience, backers would get a better product and we would be able to stick to what we do best: design and inventing. It would alter the production process, but we felt everybody would win on the partnership.
Our backers had helped us reach the goal, and we wanted to get them their OPLØFT in a timely manner. If we just worked hard we estimated we could do so - after all Posturite tends to do ergonomic office equipment for a living.
In the dark
We never made detailed plan for our post-crowdfunding communication - if we succeeded we would simply keep our backers updated on the production process. But now we were in a new and unexpected situation, where we didn't know what was going to happen the next day.
OPLØFT got funded on 18 May and on 5 June we announced the partnership with Posturite. At this point we were a bit behind schedule but still thinking we could deliver OPLØFTs to our backers before the year ended.
Posturite began a process to test if OPLØFT complied with regulatory, and as we were hands off in this part, we didn't give our backers any substantial updates on the process. We didn't think we had anything new and important to tell, and in hindsight this (obviously?) turned out to be a mistake.
On September 7 - two months after announcing the partnership with Posturite - we gave our backers the first real update: Regulatory-testing was looking good, but a few design changes would have to be made. And we still didn't know when we would be able to deliver OPLØFT.
At this point backers started shifting from being super excited about OPLØFT to being worried. And with one report from 2015 showing 9% of projects fail to deliver and another saying 84% of the 50 biggest projects are delayed, it's easy to understand why.
Then on 6. December we gave a big, substantial announcement: The size of the top plate would be modified. We just failed to explain WHY these modifications had to be done, and backers weren't exactly thrilled:
"(...)Just dumping this news on us as a given fact is utterly disappointing."
"Small modification? This is a HUGE change (...). Disappointing."
Our backers wanted to know WHY, so 19. December we posted a more thorough explainer for the changes: They were made because of regulations. And it seemed like it was easier for our backers to get behind the change, when they knew the reason why.
This really opened our eyes: We have to take communication more serious and be more open about the process.
We should be more open
The partnership with Posturite took some time to handle, but in hindsigt we would most likely have been delayed even without it. The post-crowdfunding process simply turned out to be more complicated, than we had ever imagined. We just did a pretty bad job at explaining that, because we weren't as hands on after partnering with Posturite, as we would have been on our own.
We really, really care about our backers - but we have been surprised how much backers really, really care about OPLØFT and the process as well. This makes it even more scary to stand in front of backers saying "we have no substantial news, but we are working on it." But that is probably what we should have done way earlier.
The mission isn't accomplished yet, but we will get OPLØFTs in the hands of all of our backers. Until then we need to do a better job at talking with our community.
About the series: We knew very little about crowdfunding, when we decided to crowdfund our height-adjustable desk OPLØFT in the beginning of 2016. The experience was intense, but in the end we got the $60.000 we needed to start production. The journey has taught us a great deal, and in this series we want to share our insights, do's and don'ts, so you can learn from our mistakes. This was part 4 of our Crowdfunding Tips. You can find the rest of the series here: #1: Should we crowdfund this? #2: What should my campaign video look like?