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The Five Year Project | 4 Lessons Learned From Failing On IndieGogo

4 Lessons Learned From Failing On IndieGogo

I went into my first crowd funding campaign like an overly confident new kid on his first day of high school. I walked in like I knew what was up and ended up getting swirlies before the first period bell rang.

In other words, I fell short of my $50,000 goal… by $34,000.


What happened?

There’s a myriad of reasons, but here is a list of the more obvious ones:


  • My campaign video lacked conviction because I was nervous, scared, and uncertain.
  • My campaign lacked conviction because I did not have a working/presentable prototype.
  • I had not returned to the U.S. in over a year and had no way of face-to-face marketing to promote the campaign pre-launch. I had no product to show-off. My only source of marketing was through Social Media, where we had not yet built an interactive community with our followers.
  • Our branding didn’t resonate with potential buyers. Even my friends didn’t fully understand what I was doing. My ideas were crystal clear in my head, but that didn’t translate to the people who saw it.
  • I launched before everything was 100% prepared.
  • I worried about negative feedback but never followed any of the important advice I received to prevent negative things from happening.


Having said all that, I actually ended up taking away more from this experience than I lost.

I learned 4 invaluable lessons from my failure.

The 4 Lessons:

1)    Be Coachable

I have a good buddy who is the founder of a $400k campaign on IndieGogo. Right before I launched he told me that my branding was not going to resonate with the consumers and that I should hold off launching the campaign until I had a finished prototype (“Perfection is the only deadline” – were his exact words). I shrugged it off and proceeded anyways. Guess what happened?

The fact is that most of the advice entrepreneurs get from people who ‘know what they are doing’ is bogus.

But, when someone with a proven track record goes out of his or her way to give you advice, swallow your pride and be coachable. If you don’t take it you’ll end up looking like a complete jack wagon.

2)    Networking is the key to success.

A lot of entrepreneurs say that a network is the key to success. I took the advice and heckled my entire network to get behind my efforts. That was a horrible decision. My family and my closest ring of friends made an incredible push, but after that, I felt as though my network kind of fell off.

Why weren’t my best friends from the past sharing my campaign and buying my product?

What was going on?

The sad fact is that your pal from elementary school probably won’t help you out all that much. It’s not that he doesn’t care; it’s just that he has shit to do.

People don’t like to be asked for favors, especially from people they haven’t seen or talked to in 10 years.

Instead of heckling every single person you know get yourself outside of your immediate network and meet new people.

Almost half the people that backed the campaign were friends of friends or random connections (some of whom I had never even met in person!) who had similar interests.

Reach out to like-minded people and you will be pleasantly surprised with the results.

Social Media, blogs, and other crowd funding campaigns are a great place to start.

3)    Failure is temporary.

There is nothing worse than putting everything you have into something only to have it fail. What a horrible feeling.

But, this too shall pass.

Failures will only become a part of what defines you if you let them. I have come to understand that any ‘failure’ can and should be quickly 180’d into a success.

When my campaign ended I was so close to throwing my hands up and giving up.

Then, all of a sudden, even as I did nothing but sulk post-campaign, the HeadCase brand was opening doors to new opportunities. People reached out to me and asked about the product, the campaign, and the future of the company. This gave me the surge I needed to continue. Not only did my failure not close the door, as I had imagined it would, it opened many new ones.

Since my campaign, I’ve found success in some of my other projects. I believe that success is only attainable through the growth that comes with failure.

If you let failure ruin you it will. If you don’t, it won’t. It really is that simple.

Move on and succeed.

4)    #FailGloriously

Failures are a necessary part of the journey.

Once you realize that a small failure can never truly stop you, everything changes.

You will no longer be afraid to put everything on the line and do everything you can to make your projects work. Think about it hard, cause at the end of the day, who cares who knows if you fail?

You can no longer afford to give your projects half your efforts. You must throw everything you possibly can at them in hopes that you either succeed wildly or #FailGloriously.

The common and cheesy saying – ‘Shoot for the moon so that even if you miss you’ll land in the stars’ – comes to mind.

Put yourself in a position to win, so that even if you don’t, you still end up in a much better position than where you started.

If you give your projects everything you possibly can you will have nothing but good results.


Failing sucks. I would never want to fail again. I would never wish failure on anyone. But, it’s important to understand that the negative connotation that is usually associated with failure is over-hyped. Forget about it. The best lessons come from failures, so embrace it. I learned from my failures and use the lessons I learn every single day.

What have you learned from your failures?

Tell me an example in the comments below.

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