Hassle-free home security sounds good, right? Perhaps $160,000 good, if you’re Scout Alarm … with none of that money going through crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo.
In fact, Scout Alarm crowdsourced that cash all on its own.
The Scout Alarm is a $120 “next generation” alarm system that is designed for renters as well as home owners. It’s clean, simple, doesn’t require wires or a landline, and it comes with you to your new home when you move. In other words, a Scout representative told me, it’s the perfect system for urban dwellers who may not be living in the same home for decades on end.
Scout says that Kickstarter wouldn’t allow it on its service as its product was not far enough along in preproduction yet, so the company followed in the footsteps of Lockitron, which crowdfunded its keyless lock solution, then open-sourced the needed software. A month later, the company has 596 backers who have pledged $159,180 for the new alarm systems, which start shipping in August.
“Scout has been the most successful project of its kind that we can find,” a company representative told me via email. “Even if you look at the top 15 projects of 2012 from Indiegogo, Scout would be in the top 10 … we believe we are the most successful independent crowdfunding campaign to date, excluding Lockitron, which was on their second product.”
The company put together two blog posts highlighting how to make a private crowdfunding campaign work. Here’s the short version:
- You’ll need to do some programming. Even though Lockitron open-sourced its crowdfunding code, it may not be perfectly suited for you.
- Press helps
- This may be a well-duh one, but if you can get the attention of people that have others’ attention, it helps.
- PR people help, too. Let me just put it this way: There’s a reason you’re seeing this article, and it’s not because I woke up this morning thinking I was going to write about Scout Alarm.
- Sweat the small stuff. Distributors? Shipping rates? Know them.
- Remind me later. Some people can’t buy right away. Some don’t want to. Give them a way to get you to remind them later.
- Live chat on your site. Talk to people who hit your site — they’ll have questions.
- Talk to backers early and often. Keep them informed, excited, and sharing.
- Have a second angle on press. Initial press doesn’t last. Have a new angle for week two, three, and so on.
- Retargeting from day one. Set up AdRoll or another retargeting solution on your site so that you can market to people who visit but don’t buy. “It’s cheap,” Scout Alarm says on its blog. “We’ve spent $340 to get 43,000 impressions and 81 clicks in two weeks.”
- Video, demos, pictures. People don’t like to read; they like to see.
- Ask for help. Other startups and entrepreneurs like to help startups and entrepreneurs.
- Help backers go viral. Give them simple ways to share news and updates.
- Hire a virtual assistant. Keeping up with the flow of information is hard.
- Ask for the sale. Don’t be shy!
- Track referrals and conversions from day one. Know what’s working … and what’s not.
In the first three weeks, Scout Alarm received 48,500 visitors, including 36,500 unique visits, from people who pre-ordered $140,000 worth of home security equipment. Now the campaign is near $160,000.
Scout’s campaign is continuing for another five days, and it’s looking for about $20,000 more in preorders.
VB’s research team is studying mobile user acquisition: Chime in here, and we’ll share the results.