Monday, January 14

Spend! Spend! Spend!

A week ago we had the Kickstarter funds in our account and we were ready to start paying for things.

 7 kgs of dice!

Half of it is now gone! We’ve ordered the dice and they’ve arrived; a proof of the artwork and that’s arrived, been assembled and proof-read - the rest of the printing will be ordered today. We’ve ordered the wooden pieces and baggies (delivery in a couple of weeks) and the laser cutter (about a week away). Things are fast underway! 

First assembled box with final art

To meet our Kickstarter commitments we need to craft 270 FlickFleets and 27 Zombologies by the end of December. I have a crazy plan in my head where we try to get them all shipped by the end of August instead - which simplifies the bookkeeping somewhat as that’s the end of our financial year. 

However that plan involves making 10 copies every week between now and the end of August. We can have 5 weeks off for work travel and holidays, but that's still quite a stretch!

I was hoping that it would take me about 20 minutes to do my part (making boxes and cutting out ship dashboards), but the first attempt took 32! That’s nearly six hours of crafting a week. That doesn’t sound like a lot until you realise the time I have available for crafting is usually 9-10pm - so that’s 6 out of 7 nights every week!

I’m hoping I can speed that up a bit - the boxes were made out of too thick board (the printers had run out of the right thickness) which took longer to cut and I’d run out of tape so for the proof (my copy!) so I just did the corners without tape - using the box labels to hold them together - which was a bit of a faff and definitely took longer. I’m also hoping there will be time benefits from doing a few copies at a time - less task switching should be more efficient.

At the moment things are all still up in the air though - it’ll be good once construction has begun in earnest and these things are all a bit better understood!





Monday, January 7

And So It Begins...

This week we are placing the orders for the wooden bits, the dice, the baggies, a proof of the printing and the laser cutter. FlickFleet is off to the races!

We've got to make 273 of these in the next 12 months!

We hit our deadline for the last pledge level (the Print and Play files by the end of December), now we need to make 50 deluxe copies of FlickFleet, 2 standard copies of FlickFleet and 3 copies of Zombology by the end of March. I’m hoping we can do more than that, as I’d like to get ahead of things and ideally deliver all the rewards before the deadlines (the December one is currently the most work, so the more we can do to get ahead of things early the better).

I’ve finished off the box art and I’m now re-jigging the laser cutting files again to fit everything on the laser bed (which is slightly smaller than I was expecting).

I’ll get a proof of printing before the end of the week and then, assuming that’s all ok, I can go ahead and order the rest of the printing.

In the meantime I finished two of the three Zombology copies we need by March last night and will be doing the third tonight. Then I'll build a few for stock in case of website orders or another stocking order from our retailer (singular!).

The next few months are going to be pretty busy!

Monday, December 31

The Early Bird Gets the Digital Reward

Tomorrow is the beginning of 2019 and around the busy family Christmas break I’ve managed to get the first steps of FlickFleet Kickstarter fulfilment completed. We’d set the delivery date for the Print and Play version to December 2018, which considering the Kickstarter didn’t finish until the 8th of Dec, we didn’t get the funds until the 28th and we had Christmas and family holidays arranged was probably a bit optimistic. But the good news is the P&P files are done and I will have sent the email to all the people by the end of this evening.

With the funds now cleared in our bank account we are also now ready to order the printing, wooden pieces, dice and laser cutter. It’s all go!

Monday, December 24

Merry Christmas!

I’m now in Bristol celebrating Christmas with my family and my in-laws - so this week’s blog will be pretty brief.

I just wanted to wish all of you that celebrate it a very Merry Christmas and wish everyone a happy, healthy and successful 2019!

Paul and I are taking a well earned break - but we’ve been gearing up for FlickFleet Kickstarter fulfilment over the last couple of weeks, so we’re ready to hit the ground running in 2019. We’re on track to deliver the P&P rewards as planned this month, and have been refreshing all the quotes for the laser cutter and all the materials. And Kickstarter told us on Monday they had released the funds and we can expect them within a couple of working days (Thursday?) - so it’s all go!

Monday, December 17

Kickstarter Data Deep Dive

Paul and I chose to go to Kickstarter for FlickFleet because we needed funds up front for the laser cutter purchase and the raw materials for making the games.

We have an unusual two-phase campaign, and this was our first Kickstarter which will skew things I’m sure, but I wanted to look into the data we collected (some permanent, some transitory) and see what we can draw from it, and by sharing it here I hope there is something useful for you too.

We went into the project knowing that our audience wasn’t big enough to succeed. We needed help. We had figured on an average pledge of £31 (standard copy plus UK shipping) so we needed 387 backers. Our mailing list was 135 people and not all of them would want a copy, I guessed around 30% (40). So we needed to find another 347!

The fact that we were going to Kickstarter changed a few things about how we approached the launch - I made a few demo copies and send them to reviewers (6 in total but we only got five reviews due to a series of unfortunate events at one of the reviewers) and I also arranged a lot of podcasts and email interviews ahead of the Kickstarter launch. Usually review go out after I've hand-crafted all my pre-orders, so this attempting to build a buzz ahead of Kickstarter was all new to me. I think we did ok, the podcasts definitely helped, but we could have done with sending out more review copies I think, five reviews was only just enough.

One of the things we were really hoping for was that just the act of being on Kickstarter would help - we needed to find 347 people to support us somewhere. As it turns out we were right. 46% of the total raised during our campaign was raised through Kickstarter itself. Some of that is probably people who found out about it elsewhere and searched on Kickstarter, but a huge proportion of our total came from the platform itself. By comparison, 33% came from outside and only 19% directly from a link we shared.

Another large benefit of Kickstarter was finding out really early on that the deluxe versions were hugely popular. It allowed us to change the shape of the campaign on the fly - opening up more deluxe editions as time went on.

Downsides were plenty though. The campaign was plagued by a constant stream of cancellations, and Paul and I felt constantly at risk of further backwards progress - that made the whole experience very anxiety-inducing. In the end about 14% of backers cancelled their pledges (though a few of those eventually came back). This was compounded at the end when 18/325 backers had payment errors. By the end, this was down to 6/325 (2%) and the final total before fees was £11,891. Obviously this is lower than the amount of money we needed, but one of the joys of hand-crafting print runs is that we can change our print run size and there's no minimum, so we're still good.

A couple of things I clung to throughout the campaign were a couple of stats about successful campaigns. One, from Kickstarter itself, is that 98%  of all campaigns that reach 60% end up successfully funding. Another was that anecdotally, funding is split roughly 1/3 each between the first 48 hours, the middle and the last 48 hours. In our case the numbers were 31.8%, 48.5%, 19.7%, so even though we had a weak finish, we were well within 30% with 48 hours to go.

We had 723 project followers at the end, and we went from 12% to 17% of them backing the project after the email reminder went out. That's 37 backers at the end from the followers, or just over 5%.   

Monday, December 10

We Did It!

The good news is that our Kickstarter for FlickFleet funded and we’re getting a laser cutter in Paul’s garage and approximately 285 people are getting a copy of FlickFleet. Approximately, you say?

The pledges as written have us being on the hook for delivering 21 copies of Zombology, 137 standard copies of FlickFleet and 118 deluxe copies of FlickFleet. However, a number of people pledged over the amount to add an additional copy (or four!) or a Zombology to their order and I’ve not yet been through things in detail to get the final totals. I think total is nearer 285 FlickFleets.

As regular readers will be aware, this was our first Kickstarter and I was pretty uncomfortable about it for a number of reasons, but the biggest two were: I don’t like to owe people for things (I don’t usually take payment until the game is ready to ship) and not knowing what we’re getting into until the project completes.

The first has just been realised (325 people have just had their credit cards charged) and the second has now abated - once I’ve tallied the special pledges we will know exactly what the commitment looks like.

As it turns out the worst bit of running a Kickstarter was neither of those, it was instead the month-long anxiety of ‘will we fund or not?’.

With 5 hours to spare!

It went right to the wire, with us reaching the target with 5 hours to spare and then a flurry of late adjustments as people who had helped give us the momentum and cross the line corrected back down to something they were more comfortable with. I was literally watching the seconds count down at the end, refreshing the page in case we had more cancellations that dropped us under again. It was not a comfortable experience. But we’re done, we made it and that’s behind us now.

We funded at £12,127 or 101%. Some people might look at that as a failure, but to us it’s a huge success. This was our first Kickstarter, which makes a lot of potential backers uncomfortable. We went into it with a tiny mailing list of 135 people, needing approximately 350 backers to succeed. It was always going to be an uphill struggle. But we did it!

We also made things more complicated for ourselves with our bizarre two-stage campaign that was a mixture of hand-crafted and potentially professionally manufactured games. This hugely complicated the fulfilment picture for us as we didn’t know how many games we’d be hand-crafting in our free time around jobs and families.

I think the optimal outcome would have been reaching the £40k stretch goal and then we would only be on the hook for hand-crafting the deluxe editions. The second best outcome was what we got: scraping over the line so we don’t have a huge number over people waiting on games. If we’d ended up just under the £20k stretch goals we’d have had 600-700 people waiting on fully hand-crafted games (which we’d promised within a year) and if it was just under the £40k one it would have been about 1,500 games worth of laser-cutting in the same time frame (though the rest of the games would have been professionally manufactured). So in that sense it’s a good outcome for us.

We’re now working on getting the artwork finished off, the print and play files together and the laser-cutter ordered. We’ve until the end of this month to deliver the P&P files and a couple of weeks to wait for Kickstarter to release the funds to us, at which point we can start ordering things that require up front payment.

It just remains to say thank you all for your support. Whether you backed us, shared the project on twitter, Facebook, Instagram, BGG or elsewhere, or even if you just wished us well - it meant a huge amount to both Paul and I. We literally couldn’t have done it without you.

Thank you!

Monday, December 3

Through the Wringer - Kickstarter Style

So there are only five days left of the FlickFleet kickstarter campaign. For the last 25 days, Paul and I have lived on tenterhooks, willing the Kickstarter total to go up, hoping that we can be successful at our first attempt on Kickstarter, despite my professed discomfort with it.

It's been a deeply uncomfortable experience. Had we funded very quickly, I would have found it a very different experience I'm sure. Had we clearly got a failing campaign we could have pulled the plug early and despite the disappointment we would have been able to relax and take stock.

Instead we have the worst outcome. A campaign that looks like it will finish very close to our target, either above or below. We've been watching the total crawl slowly northwards, with two steps forward and one back (about 14% of people who have backed the project have subsequently cancelled their pledge, dragging us back away from the target).

The encouraging thing is the number of project followers, so I'm still hopeful for a strong finish that tips us over the line, but it's going to be close and it's going to be nerve-wracking - that's for sure.

Stats:
Watched the video: 1,943
Watched it to the end: 1161
Following the project: 691
Backed the project: 252 (including 83 followers - so 607 followers haven't yet backed)

Can we make it? I'm still optimistic and I really hope so - as I'm more proud of FlickFleet that any of the games I've released before. But we need another 70 backers in the next five days.

In just over 5 days we'll know one way or another, until then the anxiety continues...