So many times I wanted to be able to provide an easy way to insert some text into a user’s clipboard from a web page so they could easily paste it into another application. ZeroClipboard is exactly the right tool.

GameMaker: Studio | YoYo Games

High Margin vs Volume

At some point during your business’s life you’re likely going to have to choose between high volume, but low margin sales; and high margin but low volume sales. It can be a very difficult decision, and there’s no one right answer. Generally speaking though, it comes down to profit. Which way will ultimately give you the most profit with the least hassle. 

Recently I was forced to make this decision for one of my businesses, and I ended up choosing to go with high margin, low volume. This particular business has quite a few things that aren’t easily scaled to deal with high volume. Which means that scaling is costly. In hind-sight the decision should have been easy, but when you see the high dollar values of high-volume contracts it’s easy to think about revenue rather than profit. 


The Profit

Whether you’re creating a startup or you already have a functioning business, use whatever tools are available to you to make it better. One tool I’ve found very valuable recently is a TV Show called The Profit. Yes, it’s one of those stupid reality shows, but here’s the thing, it’s not stupid. If you pay attention, it illustrates perfectly a lot of the pitfalls small businesses run up against, and potential solutions to those problems. I highly recommend it.

Asymmetric Dominance (The Decoy Effect)

If you’re trying to figure out pricing for your start up, you should learn a little about asymmetric dominance theory, which is also called the decoy effect. In short, by providing potential customers with an option that is inferior to the one you want them to choose, but superior to the other levels, it will help them make the better choice. 

Star Trek Continues - Space: The Final Frontier...

I’m not a trekkie, but man this is good

How Not To Run A Kickstarter Campaign

There is a kickstarter up right now called The Game of Politics. Regardless of whether you share the creator’s political beliefs, you can learn a lot from him about how *not* to run a Kickstarter campaign.

His first and probably biggest mistake is that Kickstarter is not a charity, but he treats his campaign as a donation drive. This leads to a lot of very bad decisions. When you’re running a campaign, don’t ask for “donations” or “gifts”.

All of his pledge levels until the $500 level are effectively freebies. In other words, the backers effectively get nothing if they back for less than $500. Think about that. How many people have a spare $500 laying around? From that group of people, how many are willing to spend $500 on a board game? From that group of people, how many are willing to spend it on an “educational” board game? He’s effectively reduced his potential audience to zero. 

His first pledge level is $10. Your first pledge on Kickstarter should pretty much always be $1. The people backing at that level want to get updates from you, and they most likely aren’t willing to pledge $10 to get those updates.

His funding goal is $87,000. While there have certainly been campaigns that make far more than that, it is a ridiculous amount of money for his first campaign, and especially for what he calls an educational board game. Educational board games are a hard sell, so the audience is limited. On top of that, he says that he wants to do a run of 5,000 copies. Let’s say he’s budgeting 1/3 profit, 1/3 manufacturing, 1/3 shipping and kickstarter fees. That means $29,000 for manufacturing. That means he’s getting his games produced for $5.80 each copy, but he’s selling it for $500 a copy.  Even if we assume he was going for $0 profit, and his manufacturing costs were $58,000, that still comes to only $11.60 per copy. So why is he charging $500? Even the most gullible consumer can smell a rip off that big. 

He has $1,000, $5,000, $7,500, and even $10,000 pledge levels. Unless you’re offering dinner with a celebrity, a vacation package, or a gold plated version of your product, those pledge levels are never going to sell. Don’t waste your time or your prospective backer’s time with ridiculous pledge levels. It’s ok to use asymmetric dominance (aka the decoy effect) to entice people to make a choice you want to make, but ridiculous pledges don’t do that.

Lack of imagery. Art and imagery sells games. He’s created some videos, and taken photographs of his game. However, he doesn’t display them on his campaign page. Instead, he makes the user click to a third-party web site he created for the game. This is problematic for 2 reasons. The first and most obvious reason is that people don’t want to wait for yet another page to load, so show it to them on this page. The second is that Kickstarter almost certainly has more infrastructure than you do. In his case, his web site is now down because he’s over his bandwidth quota from his hosting provider.  So now even those people that would follow the link can’t see his game.

And finally, in his “Risks and Challenges” section, he basically admits that he’s attempting to skirt copyright law by using images he found on the internet, and that he has a legal scheme to defend his use. Even if his legal defense works out, his description taints the campaign and makes it feel like a scam.

In short, you can’t just slap up a campaign page and expect to raise huge amounts of money. You need to do some research about what people expect, what campaigns are successful, and how they were successful. And failing that, just don’t make any of the choices this guy made.