Hardware is hard. However, there are few things more satisfying than successfully crowdfunding an idea you've created. At Celery, we've helped our fair share of hardware crowdfunds, but we certainly don't claim to know it all. Being the not know-it-alls we are, we've pulled together some of the top resources from around the web to help with your hardware crowdfund.
Each of the articles we've curated offer hugely valuable insights into the world of hardware idea development, running a successful crowdfund, and manufacturing. We couldn't have said it better ourselves.
Here are 9 must-read articles before you hit the crowds.
1. Be Good
Why Read: For startup advice that’ll stick with you and keep you in check throughout the rollercoaster ride.
Be Good, an essay by Y Combinator founder Paul Graham, is often overstated along with the famous one-liner "make something people want". Despite being an overplayed top 100 track for startup founders and enthusiasts alike, it really is a must-read for budding entrepreneurs. The essay, although dated, really encapsulates what startups are all about and offers advice that'll ground you throughout the crazy ride.
2. Bits of Cents
Why Read: For a state of the union piece that reveals key hardware crowdfunding figures for Q1 2015.
This market overview may not offer any tactical how-to advice, but it does offer up-to-date insight into the ever-changing hardware landscape. The post breaks down the $100k+ hardware crowdfunds, subdividing them into project categories and even looks at the shipping statuses of notable projects. The post is visually rich, making key data easy to absorb and the trends digestible (without requiring a PHD in statistics).
Why Read: For an excellent series on hardware, that covers it all, with the data to prove it.
This four-part series was brilliantly put together by VC firm, Bolt. It’s a monster series that will take you from day 1 of building a hardware startup all the way through to acquisition. The chapters cover: team and prototyping; financing and manufacturing; marketing and logistics; and finally, retail and exits. If you had one hour to spend cramming the ins and outs of hardware startups, no where would time be better spent than on these reads. Invest and don't skip out on parts 2, 3 and 4 as well.
Why Read: For an inclusive listing of top accelerator programs to investigate. After all, innovations that graduate from accelerator programs tend to crowdfund better.
Hardware projects that go through incubator or accelerator programs are exposed to industry experts that take great ideas to the next level. This article, put together by Postscapes, offers up the specs for some of the top hardware accelerators across the globe. When it comes to the crowds, refinement and iterations are key—nothing will force improvement quite like an accelerator!
Why Read: For a high-level understanding of what crowdfunding hardware is all about.
Hax (formerly called Haxlr8r) is one of the most prolific accelerators for hardware. They've dubbed themselves "the most active investor in the world", and when it comes to hardware, we can see why. Some of the major hardware crowdfunds—like our friends Spark and Prynt—are graduates of their program. Hax sees a lot of hardware, and teaches best crowdfunding practises to a lot of innovators. View their slideshare for a macro understanding of important hardware crowdfunding trends and lessons learned. To be an A student, research up on the key ideas and founders mentioned in the slides.
Why Read: For some solid PR and media hacks.
This is an article written by FourHourWorkWeek. The article, although long, has quite a few great hacks to make prepping for and running a crowdfunding campaign as efficiently as possible. The article runs through the many steps of crowdfunding, and offers some really excellent tips and creative strategies to generate media buzz, get bloggers interested, and market your way to the top.
Why Read: For a simplified run-down of marketing fundamentals.
This blog runs through the ongoing audience-building exercises you and your team should be running in the months leading up to your campaign, through to your launch. With a focus on content marketing and SEO, the post details content strategy basics and outlines how to set yourself up for a lifetime of continued traffic.
Why Read: For a founder’s first-hand account of a $1.5M crowdfunding failure—this is the what not to do.
This blog, written by Steven Tan, the founder of Kreyos—who successfully raised $1.5M on Indiegogo—delivers a detailed account of how it all went horribly awry. The blog speaks to the importance of having a diverse team with manufacturing experience, working with trusted partners, and the difficulty of fulfillment. It's a must-read (especially for those manufacturing abroad).
Why Read: For a beginners (and beyond) guide to finding and working with a reputable manufacturer.
Shopify puts out a wide array of excellent how-to guides, and this one is no different. The guide, rich in hyperlinks, is an excellent springboard into the manufacturing realm. From breaking down the perks of manufacturing domestically versus internationally to providing an email template for requesting pricing quotes, this article has got you covered. Click around, and you’ll find yourself in a rabbit hole of readable manufacturing and e-commerce goodies.
For more great reads on crowdfunding, taking pre-orders, and about life as a pre-sales merchant, check out the Celery blog. Better yet, subscribe now and be the first to get your hands on our exclusive content.