The last few months I have analyzed the successful meadery Kickstarter projects, posting separate entries on each of the companies who have successfully secured backing (first post here). The series to me has opened up my eyes on the possibilities to make mead professionally, as the biggest barrier to entry in the market is the up front funding required. Below I have encapsulated some of the best practices that were identified during this initial analysis, specifically focusing on the items most likely to be funded on Kickstarter. Actually managing and running a Kickstarter project is a whole other topic (or series) on its own, and I may tackle this topic later with some updates to the initial guide. And if you haven’t seen it, the entire article series was published in the latest American Mead Maker Journal. Pretty cool!
Comparing the seven successful meadery Kickstarter projects has its limitations, so making direct analyses is difficult. Some of the success may be owed to popularity of the meadery owners, professionalism of the Kickstarter project, or sheer dumb luck at the time of founding. However, there are some important conclusions that can be drawn when looking at the individual projects.
Tickets, tours, and tastings.
The popularity of Algomah Acres’ ticket invitation is similar to that of Bos Meadery’s tour and tasting, where both of these funding tiers received the most support for their respective projects.
Knickknacks pave the way.
The Leaky Roof Meadery and Golden Coast Mead projects showed the popularity of stickers, t-shirts, glassware, and honey. Melovino’s project suggests that glassware is more valuable than t-shirts to backers, as many more backers purchased these items. However the small sample size available cannot definitively say that glassware is more popular. (Anecdotally, I like to collect craft brewing pint glasses. I personally would not make a major push to collect logo-embossed wine glasses. Similarly, most of my beergeek friends collect pint glasses. Thus, for those making low alcohol meads, glassware should be in your Kickstarter project, as I expect the trend to follow for session meads.)
Avoid all inclusive funding levels to spread support.
The Leaky Roof Meadery and Melovino Meadery mix and match options (funding tiers were not inclusive of prior levels, but instead specific items were offered) may be worth considering for future projects, as it spread support across a wide range of funding levels and provides improved options for a backer to purchase exactly what he or she wants.
Consider mead club membership options.
Bee Well Meadery’s concept of an exclusive membership option was unique to their project. It is important to note this idea received the greatest number of backers and most funding in Bee Well Meadery’s project. If a meadery is considering having a wine club in its future, providing an enhanced membership option to crowdfunding supporters may be a great idea.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
The Vanaheim Gold projects show that even if a project is unsuccessful in its first go around, that does not mean it cannot find supporters in a subsequent project. A willingness to test the market seek crowd-sourced funding builds a sense of community from the project’s backers, and can only help with early promotion of the meadery.
Design your project with tiers for all funding levels.
When designing a Kickstarter project, the range of funding options should be considered. Although some of these projects benefited from large donors purchasing the most expensive items, a large amount of support comes from low priced items. In addition, those who purchase low priced items might be the ones who shared the project with the donors purchasing the higher priced options. Therefore it is important to remember that providing funding options that all potential backers may be necessary to garner extensive support. Also note that according to the successful project owners, funding tiers less than $50 may not cover the distribution costs, but are fantastic for raising awareness and building a community to advertise your product for you.
The seven meaderies showcased in this article series present the only successful crowdfunded meadery project data points currently available. Further analysis of the unsuccessful projects may shed additional light on what items truly are most popular among backers, but are not included in this analysis for brevity. Additional research in winery, brewery, and distillery projects may also yield important trends between the beverage markets. Nonetheless, the crowdfunding concepts presented here may not guarantee success for a new crowdfunding project. However, they are worth considering if a small amount of funds are needed to bring your new product to market.