If you’re a regular or even semi-regular reader of 3DPrint.com, you know that we cover crowdfunding campaigns quite frequently – and for good reason, because some of the most successful businesses in the 3D printing industry got their start on sites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo. We’ve seen some trust in crowdfunding begin to erode among potential backers lately, however, after several campaigns raked in a great deal of money and then were unable to deliver their product for a variety of reasons. However, for as many people who may have backed away from instead of backing new campaigns, there are still plenty of 3D printing enthusiasts willing to put their trust in a promising product.
That’s rarely been more evident than in the soon-to-conclude Kickstarter campaign for the Snapmaker 3D printer, a simple but sturdy machine that also functions as a CNC machine and a laser engraver. The campaign was launched by Snapmaker, a startup founded by mechanical engineer Daniel Chen, and has raised nearly $1.5 million with less than two weeks left (its initial goal was to raise $50,000). What makes a campaign like this so successful, especially these days when would-be backers might be a little extra wary of pledging their money to a 3D printer crowdfunding effort? We spoke to the company briefly to find out.
What steps have you taken to gain the trust of your backers and reassure them that they aren’t throwing their money away?
“We think we make it by showing people a lot of original photos, gifs and videos of the product in the early stage of this campaign. Back to February 28, we’ve published a short video of this product on facebook and got a great deal of attention. Then on March 2, we’ve showed photos of how we made this machine in factory, closeup of its modules, and lots of print objects on our newsletter that sent to our subscribers. We posted videos of it 3D printing, laser engraving and CNC carving on YouTube and facebook before we launch this campaign. Also, we sum up our work on the ‘HOW WE DID IT’ section on our campaign page so that people know more about this campaign when they read through it on Kickstarter. In addition to all the facts we posted on social media and campaign page, we keep close touch with backers by continuing to release latest update with text, photos, and videos in detail, and replying comments with clear answers in time. Our supporters continuously keep an eye on our project and know that they’re just next to us as they see what’s going on for this campaign.”
Can you tell us a little bit about some of the things you’ve done to set your campaign apart from others that haven’t been so well-run?
“We’ve been preparing for the manufacturing of this project for many months and are determined to deliver without hiccups even if we have to pay more initially. With a clear goal of providing high-quality and versatile 3D printers and our previous work experience in engineering and manufacturing, we know how to enhance product quality while reducing manufacturing costs at the same time.
We made the all-metal Snapmaker affordable by using dies and molds for mass production. Clearly, we can expect a lower cost per unit if we make them in higher volume. Meanwhile, we are able to sell our printers in high volume by hitting a very affordable price point. Generally, making a die or mold is costly. We have been taking this issue under consideration throughout the design process and finally found a great solution: using modular design and designing all three linear modules (the most important and expensive parts) to be identical so that all of them can be made with the same dies. It not only cuts dies costs, but also allows for making linear modules in higher volume.
To sum up, we think that our initial work helps us build a solid foundation for building trust and confidence, and for further success in this campaign.”
Although early bird rewards are long gone, you can still support the Snapmaker Kickstarter campaign and get the all-metal 3D printer for as little as $299. Higher contributions will get you the laser engraver and CNC modules, but even those are remarkably inexpensive: a pledge of $439 will get you the entire multifunctional machine. You can learn more about Snapmaker tomorrow when the company hosts a live stream, which you can check out here, at 9:00 PM EDT. Check out the Kickstarter video below:
Discuss in the Snapmaker forum at 3DPB.com.