Can a handful of people raise half a million dollars in 10 days?
Two weeks ago, we told you about Pressy, a then anonymous Kickstarter project like thousands of others, that was standing before its biggest moment yet: its Kickstarter launch. The odds were wide open. Anything could happen. For the developers, this was do or die: Pressy’s $40,000 goal wasn’t even enough for them to break even. All they wanted was to make Pressy come true, and after months of work and preparations, the moment has finally come. If Pressy couldn’t raise the goal, it would be gone forever.
For those of you who missed the previous article, Pressy is an extra Android button that can help you accomplish actions such as taking pictures and turning on your flashlight without the need to launch apps and waste time. When the project launched, the Pressy team had no office, and were virtually anonymous to anyone but their friends. Nimrod, the lead developer, was optimistic, and guessed they’d raise $20,000 after the first week. His partner Boaz, the product designer, was more down-to-earth, and guessed $8,000. They both had a big surprise coming.
Where Is Pressy Today?
10 days into its launch (the time of this writing), Pressy has now made over 10 times its initial goal. The project passed its $40,000 target the day it was launched, making it one of the shining stars of the week on Kickstarter. When this happened, the big technology websites caught on, and the Pressy team became online celebrities overnight. How did it happen? Why did it happen? How does it feel to be inside?
From 0 To 60 In One Day
“We were supposed to go live on television. The final project approval came an hour before we were set to go live. It was nerve wracking.”
Tell me about the moment you hit that publish button and the project went live.
It wasn’t as simple as all that. An hour before we were set to go live on local television, the project hadn’t been approved by Kickstarter yet. They didn’t like the product simulations we included, and it took them two days to approve the fixes.
The final approval finally came, but when we hit the “launch” button, we got another reject. We nearly fainted, but this time it was a small technical point and the project was automatically approved again when we fixed it.
It was madness. It was nerve wracking. But it was finally live.
Some projects wait days for their first backer. How long did you have to wait?
It took literally less than a minute. We couldn’t believe it. We thought it was one of our friends, but turns out our first backer was a guy called Shabbir Siraj from Pakistan. It was no one we knew. We realized this was the point of no return. Now things were really on.
Who were your very first batch of backers? How did they hear about you?
We’re based in Israel, and we received pretty good local publicity. Several Israeli websites wrote about us, so many of the first backers were from from Israel. Internationally, there was your article (Inside Kickstarter #1, YL), but no one else had covered us yet at that point.
The really big surprise came from Reddit. A Chinese kid uploaded our video to Reddit and it went viral. We reached Reddit’s front page, and this brought us our first $10,000. Once this happened, Kickstarter itself decided to feature us, and the rest is history.
Within a day, all the major websites picked up the story. Everyone wrote about us, even British, German, and Japanese websites.
What was going through your heads in these first hours?
It was simply amazing. A crazy rush of adrenaline. We invited some friends over to watch the launch on TV, and we were all speechless. We didn’t do anything because there was nothing to do but watch what was happening. We couldn’t believe it.
What does it feel like becoming “famous” overnight?
I’m not a celebrity and don’t feel like one. It’s not like I’m being recognized on the street or anything. Even if that happens, it’s not very exciting. What I really like is the fact that 900,000 people watched a video of me rolling my eyes.
People’s responses on Facebook and Kickstarter — that’s the truly amazing thing. Some people with disabilities tell us that Pressy will change their lives. It’s an exaggeration, of course, but it gives us a real push.
The Internet is full of trolls. Did you get negative comments as well?
Yes, tons. We’re now getting hundreds of comments and inquiries per day, and while most of them are positive, we are getting our share of negative vibes. We always answer with a smile, and when we feel like teasing them, we answer with links to articles about us on big websites, or with funny remarks.
We’re also getting tons of suggestions and improvements we’ve never even thought of. It’s incredible. We’re soon launching a forum titled, “When I get my Pressy I will use it for…”, which will help us channel all the feedback to one place where people can vote on it. This way, we would be able to use it to actually improve the app.
When Dreams Come True
“I don’t yet know much about success. I know what I did, and it succeeded.”
You’ve now raised almost $500,000, what’s changed for you?
Before all this started, we didn’t have an office. I’ve now given up my living room for an office, we’ve brought in 8 workstations, and hired two new people to the team. We’re now a team of 7 working full time.
I no longer write any comments and responses myself. I still approve every backer comment, but I dedicate my time to development and manufacturing. We’re now looking for two additional programmers to make the app even better. We were given the opportunity to do this right, and we’re going to do the best job we can. We’re not skimping on anything.
We heard you lost $70,000 along the way, what happened?
That just goes to show you, don’t mess with Kickstarter. Better to play by their rules.
Now that you’re a veteran Kickstarter project, any mistakes you’d like to share?
We made some mistakes along the way, such as forgetting to specify shipping costs for international orders. This is going to cost us tens of thousands of dollars, but it’s our mistake, so we decided not to disappoint our backers and add it after the fact. We’ll pay for the shipping ourselves.
We also decided to add a special Kickstarter edition — the green Pressy button — and since this must be a special edition using a special mold we can’t use again, it’s expensive to produce. We priced it $35, and our backers got a little annoyed, saying it’s overpriced. We ended up adding a Pressy t-shirt to sweeten up the deal.
How’s life these days, now that you know Pressy will become a reality?
People are saying “that’s it, you’re a success”, but we’re not a success yet. We’ll be a success when all our backers get their Pressy. I don’t yet know much about success. I know what I did, and it succeeded.
We’re getting many inquiries from entrepreneurs from all over the world. I wrote on our Facebook Page that our offices are open to the public and anyone is welcome. Ever since, I’ve been meeting with 3-4 people each day, giving tips and suggestions to others.
We’re now working hard to make sure all our backers are happy, even if it means losing money. We can do this because the project is successful, so to speak. We have backers from all over the world, and we’re using a translating service to answer them and help them out. It might not be worth the money we’ll end up getting from them, but at this stage, it’s about more than just money.
It has only been two weeks since Pressy launched on Kickstarter, and with almost a month still to go, there’s no telling how this story will end. According to current trends, the Pressy project could reach nearly $2 million before its time is done, but the Pressy team is not making any assumptions yet.
What does the future hold for Pressy? What does the team plan to do with all the extra money? Are there new ideas and features to expect? We’ll join the Pressy team again, up close and personal, after October 14. Stay tuned for the third and final part of the series for all the answers!
Did you back Pressy? Where did you first hear about it? Does this story inspire you to create a project of your own? Share your thoughts in the comments.