Once I had made up my mind that I wanted to do the trolley thing as a kickstarter project, I knew I had to do my homework.
First on the list was to head back out to the trolleys and ride some more. I brought the trusty ole PCM D50 and made some test runs, and jumped on several of the different cars. After a few rides I had my favorites and I looked up the MATA contact info.
I needed to get pricing and permission from MATA, the trolley transit authority. I contacted their business department and after a few rounds of email and phone tag we were able to discuss and negotiate the whole deal.
MATA actually does trolley charters as a primary business function and they were more than happy to give me a good rate on the cars and to agree to my ideas of mic placement. After some discussion we decided on Rosie and on Matilda as my target cars. Those two were some of the most distinctive sounding, and had the added benefit of being the smallest and largest cars in the fleet respectively, so I knew I could get a very different set of sounds from each. I set a tentative date with them and began my kickstarter research in earnest.
Obviously anyone considering a kickstarter project should spend some time in the FAQs and Kickstarter School sections of the website.
Kickstarter really does have a great reserve of getting started info and tips that will lead to success. Kickstarter’s resources (and in fact all of their communications) are very clear and well-written. At no point did I ever feel like i was reading legalese in the process, which is a heck of an achievement IMO.
An example is the language in the guidelines page:
Kickstarter is a funding platform focused on a broad spectrum of creative projects. The guidelines below articulate our mission and focus. Please note that any project that violates these guidelines will be declined or removed. Please contact us if you have any questions.
Projects. Projects. Projects. Kickstarter is for the funding of projects – albums, films, specific works – that have clearly defined goals and expectations.
Projects with a creative purpose. Kickstarter can be used to fund projects from the creative fields of Art, Comics, Dance, Design, Fashion, Film, Food, Games, Music, Photography, Publishing, Technology, and Theater. We currently only support projects from these categories.
No charity or cause funding. Examples of prohibited use include raising money for the Red Cross, funding an awareness campaign, funding a scholarship, or donating a portion of funds raised on Kickstarter to a charity or cause.
No "fund my life" projects. Examples include projects to pay tuition or bills, go on vacation, or buy a new camera.
Rewards, not financial incentives. The Kickstarter economy is based on the offering of rewards – copies of the work, limited editions, fun experiences. Offering financial incentives, such as ownership, financial returns (for example, a share of profits), or repayment (loans) is prohibited.
We rely on respectful interactions to ensure that Kickstarter is a friendly place. Please follow the rules below.
Spread the word but don't spam. Spam includes sending unsolicited @ messages to people on Twitter. This makes everyone on Kickstarter look bad. Don't do it.
Don't promote a project on other projects' pages. Your comments will be deleted and your account may be suspended.
Be courteous and respectful. Don't harass or abuse other members.
Don't post obscene, hateful, or objectionable content. If you do we will remove it and suspend you.
Don't post copyrighted content without permission. Only post content that you have the rights to.
If you don't like a project, don't back it. No need to be a jerk.
I really love the “be cool” part.
The Kickstarter mechanism works as follows:
Step 1 is to define and submit your project to the KS staff. Projects must be closed-ended, meaning that there has to be a specific finishing point. You do this by filling out a form on the website. I received approval about one day after submitting my project. Here’s an excerpt from the email I received:
Congratulations -- you’re in! In just a moment, you’ll be able to start getting your project ready.
Take as much time as you need to prepare. There’s no deadline to launch. Check out some of our Recommended projects, browse the FAQs, and read the project guidelines. They'll give you a feel for what works and help you shape your project into a great one.
If you have questions, we’re here for you. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ready? Let’s get started!
Step 2 is to set up an Amazon business account. This required making up a business name and giving tying the AB account into my regular bank account. The process was relatively straightforward.
Step 3 was to tie the Kickstarter account to the Amazon Business account. The KS page makes that process pretty straightforward as well, and in fact won’t let you proceed to the next steps until your business account is set up and confirmed, which is a good failsafe.
Now that I had all of the structures in place beneath me, the next step was to research and think about the critical steps involved in launching the project in a way that would be successful.