How R&D Saved Jaymes White’s Kickstarter Campaign

By Bruce Firestone | Uncategorized

Dec 31
[A version of this article first
appeared in Ottawa Business Journal]

White is Ottawa’s
answer to Grigori Rasputin or the Amazing Kreskin—mentalists who used their
talents either to gain political influence or please an audience. Mentalism is
a combination of magic and psychology and, unless you’ve seen a show, you won’t
understand how powerful the power of suggestion can be when used by skilled
practioners on human beings. It’s scary and fun.

“It was 33 days of
incredible stress,” says Jaymes White

has been practicing his art since he was seven so he’s put in far more than
(Malcolm Gladwell’s) minimum number of hours required to master any craft
(which is 10,000). He’s performed many shows and completed a TV series (Mind
Games on Rogers Television) but his goal, for a very long time, has been to
launch a Canada-wide tour.

that is expensive. So how do you go about funding what became known as the
Paradox Tour, with its first two (sold-out) shows held at Centerpointe Theatre
Thursday June 12th and freaky Friday the 13th? Another show is happening August
16th at the Shenkman Arts Centre.

Jaymes and his loyal acolyte Saad Rashid (think Batman and Robin except Robin
in this case is the taller of the two) came to see me I suggested they consider
a kickstarter campaign for two reasons—a) to raise the $8,500 they needed to
launch Paradox and b) to pre-sell tickets. Every artist is, by definition, an
entrepreneur, and the first three things every entrepreneur needs to do

was launched in the performance art category on kickstarter. It’s a tough
one—it has a success rate of only 5-13%, which is their lowest, yet the team
led by Jaymes, Saad and Vanessa Peral, exceeded their fundraising goal. Even
Jaymes’ stagehands (Brian Babcock, Tyler Skinner, Paul Langlois and Corey
Rozon) constantly solicited people to the cause. (Full disclosure: I am a
backer of Jaymes’ kickstarter campaign).

Jaymes and Saad believe that a key to their eventual success was R&D or as
they call it “Rob and Duplicate”. They looked at dozens of other successful
kickstarter campaigns and noticed—

They had a catchy video;
2. They added something that differentiates their campaigns from others;
3. They simplified, simplified, simplified their message;
4. They all had eye popping graphics (for example, the Paradox campaign created
their own “frightening” headings);

Even their graphics

They stick to a budget—most people support a kickstarter campaign because they
like it and want to feel like they are part of something special not because
they expect much of a financial return so rewards should be cool, easy to
deliver but not expensive;
6. They expect to go through at least 20 iterations before a campaign is launched;
7. They line up sponsors and backers before launch so the campaign gets off to
fast start;
8. They push every day for more backers/funds;
9. They have an unreasonable belief in the campaign’s success even on days when
things don’t appear to be going according to plan.

campaign raised $9,891 or 16.3% more than their goal of $8,500 from 160
backers. It was the 52nd highest grossing campaign in kickstarter’s performance
art category with the 32nd highest number of backers. It is almost certainly
better for them to have raised nearly $10k from 160 people rather than to have
raised $10k from, say, four corporate sponsors since their goal was to not only
to launch a show but to sell out while expanding Jaymes’ fan base. Having said
this, both Jaymes and Saad realize that many of their backers were already
Paradox fans so, to an extent, the question of how to broaden the Jaymes White
fan base still remains.

that Jaymes required to be approved by kickstarter was an Ontario business registration number (which
costs $70 and can be obtained online) and with that registration, anyone can
open a bank account, the other kickstarter requirement. Kickstarter takes 5% of
funds raised by successful campaigns (it’s all or nothing, if the goal isn’t
reached or exceeded, the campaign fails and backers are not charged) while
Amazon takes 3 to 5% for handling money transactions and hosting the service.
The rest goes into the campaign’s bank account.

was 33 days of incredible stress while the campaign ran,” Jaymes says, “but the
best thing was the incredible feeling our team got when we met then exceeded
our target a few days before the end. It felt like we were on top of the world
but it was humbling too—to receive all those good wishes and love. Now we have
to live up to those expectations and deliver.”

asked Saad again about mistakes and he went back to the question about rewards,
“We budgeted $1,000 for rewards but it ended up costing us $2,000. The DVDs (of
Jaymes’ TV series) were supposed to cost $5 each but ended up costing $10 and
we had to go back to people and ask if we could substitute, say, a Paradox
wrist band for a card wallet.”

the end,” Jaymes says, “we didn’t have to go to a bank and borrow any money,
which they probably would have said no to anyway. We created 4 jobs for our
stage team and 2 more in marketing and sales. We spent $2,000 on a marketing
campaign with JACKPINE Digital who did a ton of work for us. We did an “ask me
anything” campaign on reddit, which got 43 people involved that put us on top
of the reddit page for the day. And we held “coffee with a mentalist” on Sparks Street,
which attracted 70 people.”

talking to the group, I could see that they truly understand the difference
between marketing and sales. Marketing builds the brand which builds trust. But
sales are done 1-on-1 in the trenches where that trust is converted to cash.

Bruce M Firestone, Ottawa Senators founder; Century 21 Explorer Realty Inc
broker. Follow him on Twitter @ProfBruce

Posted in Uncategorized

Spread The Word

About the Author

Bruce is an entrepreneur/real estate broker/developer/coach/urban guru/keynote speaker/Sens founder/novelist/columnist/peerless husband/dad.