So we’ve got $50,000! Now what?
First of all –THANK YOU! I know I’ve said that 500 times already and I’m certain I’ll say it 500 times more before this campaign concludes. But I mean it – Thank you.
We hit the $50k mark yesterday morning. I was excited! But you guys don’t know me very well (at all), so I think we should chat about who I am as a person, and how I run the LiftPort Group team. This impacts all the decisions that I make surrounding this project.
You see, “…people say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one...” Folks that don’t know us make assumptions about my team and I. Because we have the audacity to publicly declare that we can build a tower 2km high, then later an Elevator that drops down to the Moon, and then finally an Elevator that takes humanity to the stars; people assume that we must be visionary dreamers (or worse!). And we are visionary dreamers. But we are also ‘down-to-Earth’ pragmatic realists that know that project planning, infrastructure and methodical steps are the only way to accomplish our dream.
So rather than ‘go crazy’ with some rash statement about ‘shooting for the stars’ – which I know a lot of you expected; I paused; I let it sink in a little and then came up with a revised plan. Let’s face it, I was not expecting $50k. I expected $8k and I even expected $20k. I had plans and budgets and timelines for those levels. The rest of the stretch goals were vague generalities… From my operations and time-management perspective, there wasn’t any need to really invest time in those unless they were going to really happen. Right? So now I have to throw out my early budgets and plans, and build a bigger plan. And for that, again, I thank you! So that’s what I did yesterday; rather than ‘react’, I spent the day ‘planning’. The ‘Internet’ says we should hit $100k by the end of the campaign….
But I know some things that the ‘internet’ doesn’t know. 1) The US is essentially ‘shut-down’ for Labor Day weekend; so that trends our numbers down. Basically that means that 5 days of a 21 day campaign are going to be ‘low’ numbers in terms of commitments. We planned for that. No big deal. But there are 2 other things that the ‘internet’ doesn’t know. These are BIG things. If either of them happen before this campaign concludes, the press surrounding them will be sufficient to move us toward a much bigger dollar number… So I’m making a plan for $100; with my hopes high.
BUT – I really want you to ignore all of that. Really.
Please re-watch our campaign video… pay special attention between :50-1:20 seconds in. That is the focus of our entire effort.
This Kickstarter effort is not about the money. Yes, let’s be perfectly clear – my team deeply appreciates it. The project cannot move forward without cash in the checking account. But the point, the focus, of this campaign is on YOU. We need your active participation. So while $50,000 is a reason to celebrate, I focus on numbers of new backers. I focus on the folks signing up as members on the (still incomplete) LiftPort website and forum. I focus on the people supporting the concept.
So while most of the Kickstarter community, and let’s face it – the world – is paying attention to one metric (money), I think it is vitally more important to focus on the other metric (backers).
Why is that? Because all the other Kickstarter campaigns are focused on their specific end-goal: a dance recital, a film created and distributed, or a robot that walks and talks. And all that stuff is awesome! I really love the Kickstarter ecosystem for its creativity and ethos! But that’s not where we’re going… Our project is centered on a goal that is eight years away – an Elevator on the Moon. And this first Kickstarter campaign is the beginning point, not the end-state. Before we launched this campaign, I wrote an essay. It’s long, but I think if you really want to be a part of what we’re trying to achieve, that it is worth the read.
Would I like to reach $100k or more – you’re darn right I would!
But I’d rather we shift from 1723 backers to 2000 or 5000 or 10000! That would be a much greater sign of our long-term success. With $50k or $100k we can build a helluva robot experiment! But with 10,000 backers – even if they only committed a single dollar – we can build an Elevator in Space!
I’ve been criticized many times for the low $8000 minimum of this campaign. So let’s look at that a little closer… This specific Kickstarter effort is “one one thousandth of a percent” of the goal of $800M to build the Lunar Elevator.
Take a look at the $8 reward. There’s been a lot of talk about how our team carefully crafted our campaign – and it’s true, we really did work on the nuance of it. But when we were designing the reward levels I specifically set a target of 1000 backers at the $8 level. (We’re at 481 as I write this.) Briefly I had even considered just having a single reward level - $8 or nothing. (Obviously, I didn’t follow that path!)
And now for a bit of a reality check - We’ve had just about 33k views of the video, and that means about a 5% conversion from watching the video to becoming a backer. I’m very pleased with that conversion rate, but it obviously makes me ask the question – what was said or unsaid in the video that 19 out of 20 wouldn’t commit a dollar? Considering that we’ve had news articles translated into 7 languages this week, what fraction of the world read about our project and didn’t take the time to watch a three minute video? If this project is going to ultimately succeed then backers are the key. There are 7B people in the world. 3B have Internet access. 500M can read/speak English fluently. And we’ve had just 33k video views and less than 2000 commitments.
And that’s why I’m focused on the number of backers, because it is going to be you folks that change the world. And the Moon. And Mars… and everywhere else.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Meade.
So I’m excited about having $50k to run an experiment, but I’m focused on the backer number – because I want us to go en masse to space!
Michael J. Laine
President, LiftPort Group.