On this episode of CrowdFund Genius ZacBob interviews Doug from Jerky.com who is an internet marketer turned jerky salesman now turned crowdfunfer! Dougs goal was to raise enough money on Kickstarter to build Jerky.com’s proud new food truck aka The Jerky Truck! Doug explains the entire process from sitting on their butts at the office to getting out and about with the local community. Not only did it pay off by selling more jerky, but the local community just so happens to be a favorite of this host, Oklahoma City! Doug explains how no amount of marketing tricks were needed when you have the entire support of a city like Oklahoma City behind you. So tune it, check it out, and remember to subscribe!
ZacBob: Welcome Back crowdfunders to another exciting episode. Today we have Doug from Jerky.com and he’s going to explain how he used Kickstarter to raise funds for there website to create a working food truck. But first let me explain that I am overseas, and I’m doing my best to edit and record three episodes a week, but until October you will have to bear with me, I might not get three out every week. But after October 1, no excuses. I should be back and fully devoted to getting you your three episodes a week. The best way to stay up to date, just hitting that subscribe button. And while your at it, leave a review. Speaking of reviews, make sure you check out our website crowdfundgenius.com and click the button leave a review on our homepage. Leave your Twitter handle in the review so I can contact you.
Enough about reviews. Now lets move onto todays guest, Doug from Jerky.com So tell us about yourself Doug.
Doug from Jerky: Born and raised in Omaha Nebraska, I can from a small farming family, yea non-traditional student. Didn’t go to school until I was about 25. After college an opportunity presented itself to start a couple Internet business and move to Oklahoma City and that’s where I’m at now.
ZacBob: Now that we know a little about you, tell us the story of your crowdfunding campaign, tell us some of the ups and downs of the campaign, and don’t forget to share with us the inspiration that eventually lead you to Kickstarter.
Doug from Jerky: So kind of a long winding story I guess. Really I’m an Internet marketer; really that’s what we do. We have a website Jerky.com. And we sale all sorts of jerky. The gourmet, really high quality stuff that your not going to find at gas stations or local grocery stores and ship it all of the world. Really that’s our meat and potatoes. We focus on finding people online that are jerky enthusiasts, getting them to our site, and converting them into life long customers. Over the last few years some of my more hipster friends, and local friends that are really tied into the community keep telling me that “hey you need to come out to this show or venue. A lot of people out there and I’m sure you would sell a ton of jerky.” First few years of that I was like nah, were not interested in that. That’s not what we do, I want to sit behind my keyboard and work on SEO and pay-per-click and all that kind of stuff. So that’s what I do and I’m not interested. Well it happened so many times and eventually I was like okay we will go out and do a show. Plus a lot of times were behind a keyboard all day long and we kind of wanted to get out and participate in the community. We go out and do a show and it ends up being a lot of fun. It wasn’t really even work, and were kind of friendly people anyway and we make a joke and make everything fun. So we just spent all day hanging out with people, having a good time and meeting people around us that we don’t usually meet. And at the end of the day we sold some jerky, so we thought all right this is kind of fun, we will do a couple more. So we did a couple more shows and it became really obvious pretty quick that it’s a lot of work man. Those people that do those shows they have a truck that they load up with product, tables and displays that they go to the venue then unload it all, and set it all up. Then they work all day, break it down, and load it back up and drive the truck back to their office, warehouse or home or whatever and then unload it all. Well that’s a lot of backbreaking work. So we said if were going to do this, then were going to do something cool, something fun and something efficient. And so we came up with the idea to do this truck were everything just slides out of the back and we just roll right in and unfold it and start slanging jerky. So that was kind of the idea and inspiration behind the actual product. I had been just enamored with Kickstarter since I discovered it a couple years ago. I think crowdfunding is just a brilliant idea and crowdfunding is so neat. Ten years ago stuff like this wasn’t possible. But now somebody in their bedroom, or dorm room can come up with a neat product idea and with very little invested make a pitch to people and actually raise money and bring a product to market. That whole process absolutely fascinates me and so, I had backed a few projects and eventually, and I was kind of wanting to do something, and when the truck came up, and it just seemed like well if were going to take a stab at doing something Kickstarter wise than this would probably be it. So anyway a long story to your short question, that’s how we got into doing the jerky truck on Kickstarter.
ZacBob: Its okay Doug we enjoy long stories on CrowdFund Genius. Especially about your Jerky truck. Now tell me this Doug, is the jerky truck different than your standard food truck that you might find out on the city streets?
Doug from Jerky: Yea, I mean the lines definitely get blurred there. Traditionally a food truck sales prepared food usually that people eat as some sort of a meal. Or something like that. Were not selling food that were preparing in the truck, I mean its all pre-packaged stuff and it’s more of a snack food not a meal. We do go to a lot of venues were there is a lot of food trucks. And its kind of interesting because the food trucks are just slammed during meal times and were a little slow. Then after the mealtime we get slammed. So anyway it’s not exactly a food truck, but it’s often referred to as one.
ZacBob: Thanks for the clarification Doug. Now you were selling jerky long before the Kickstarter campaign and your food truck right?
ZacBob: I have to ask this, it first popped into my mind when I learned about your campaign and while I was doing research. How did you manage to get the domain? Jerky.com That had to either be expensive or at least difficult.
Doug from Jerky: It was registered before anyone knew what the Internet was.
Doug from Jerky: I guess more than anything it seemed like they were the first mover. Therefore when I was introduced into crowdfunding in that sort of context. That was just the first thing I was exposed too. I guess It’s really a preference thing kind of like Chevy and Ford right. It was the first thing I was exposed to, I never even checked out other platforms quite honestly. I’ve browsed them a little bit, a couple of them. But I was always comeback to Kickstarter because its seems like, I don’t know that’s the one I’m most comfortable with I guess.
ZacBob: So which is it? Chevy or Ford?
Doug from Jerky: I got to stay political correct here.
Doug from Jerky: The goal was to raise enough money to customize our truck. It was 12 thousand bucks is what we were looking to do. So we need to cover the costs of all the custom fabrication and all that kind of stuff. So that was pretty much our goal.
ZacBob: Pledges, you had quite a few pledge amounts, and quite few early bird specials in which people took advantage of as well. Name some of your top pledges, the ones that were best performing. Maybe the top three.
Doug from Jerky: The first one was just ten dollars. And for ten dollars you got a bag of jerky shipped to your door. One of the other ones that really added a lot to the overall percentage of the pledges contributed was our largest package. And I believe is like 380 bucks. And that’s like ten pounds of jerky, which is quite a bit. So there were a few of those and that added up pretty quick. And the other one I believe was around a hundred-dollar range and that was kind of our mid level. And yea those were the three that did well.
ZacBob: That’s a lot of Jerky! Now lets talk about your video. I really enjoyed your particular video, it had a slight edge of comedy to it, I was pretty shocked at the size of the food truck, to talk about it a little bit in the video you had this giant van displayed and out of the corner of the shot, and your food truck, can I call it a food truck?
Doug from Jerky: I don’t care, Jerky Truck.
ZacBob: Okay so when you first displayed this giant van in the video and your Jerky Truck comes in and it takes you by surprise a little bit. Not in a bad way, but in a cute like you didn’t expect that type of way. So share the story of how you made your video, give our audience a peek behind the scenes with a making of the Jerky Truck crowdfunding video.
Doug from Jerky: Okay yea well I have a good friend who is a professional videographer, and he’s awesome, Ben Urlich. At the end of the day I’m a beef jerky salesman that’s all I do. I’ve never done videos, in fact I hate being in front of the camera. So a lot of the stuff we did was kind of you know, just kind of winging it. We roughly story boarding out the pitch we wanted to do. And a lot of it was just kind of free willing it. And then ben with his awesome editing skills made it look like we knew what we were doing but that’s just the magic of editing I guess. He’s good at it.
ZacBob: Does Ben have a company, or a website or something we can share with our audience in case they want to hire him in the future?
Doug from Jerky: Yea he has his own company, I guess I probably should’ve been better prepared for this part of it. But yea he does all sorts of stuff, freelance stuff and I could send that to you in a follow up. But that’s what he does, its his profession and he’s good at it.
ZacBob: And our audience knows they can find all that information in the show notes under the podcast portion of our website. Just go to CrowdFundGenius.com and click on podcasts, then locate the Jerky.com episode and we will have Bens contact information in a link there. Alright Doug, lets move on to the press. Did you have any media or blogger attention going into the campaign?
Doug from Jerky: No and that’s probably one of my biggest takeaways from the whole thing is I underestimated the value of pre-launching these things. Again we just kind of winged this thing, we didn’t know where it was going to go. Launch the thing and once it was launched then we started sharing it with friends and family and colleagues and other people that we work with. In retrospect I don’t think I can stress enough how much value there is to the pre-launch of something in crowdfunding. Working with bloggers and a whole lot more social media stuff. There is a whole lot of things we could’ve done a whole lot better. We really lucked out with even being successful in our first campaign. Quite honestly, I wasn’t even expecting to be.
ZacBob: I can respect that Doug and I’m sure our audience can as well. I’m constantly telling everyone and I hope our audience is listening right now, you have to get out there and get your feet wet. You cant just sit there and wait for someone else to come up with the same idea you already have, and then they launch a crowdfunding campaign with that very idea. Next thing you know your sitting at home reading about your idea and how it raised thousands, maybe millions of dollars on a crowdfunding platform. So everyone listening, start taking action, it takes weeks sometimes months of planning for a crowdfunding campaign. Speaking of which, Doug, since you were selling jerky long before your campaign, did you have a chance to build an email list and utilize that for your crowdfunding campaign to help bring people to your Kickstarter page?
Doug from Jerky: Oh Yeah
Doug from Jerky: We actually didn’t tap much into our existing customers. Again that was kind of… The whole thing was a learning curve. We didn’t know how aggressively we needed to market. Quite honestly I was expecting to fail the first one. Looking to go into it, try it out, learn from it, learn what worked and what didn’t work and then launch again. Quite honestly that what I intended to do. You know were really pretty conservative about how we email to our customer base. At that time we didn’t want to overly market to those customers. So we had other email lists that we had built that we kind of marketed too. Kind of getting into the weeds a bit. But yea a long story short, we didn’t do a lot of marketing for the whole thing. Then again we should have, but don’t underestimate that is my advice.
Doug from Jerky: Yea we did a little bit, we have a small social media following of about 1500 followers. Which you know is good for us, but small in comparisons to other people. But all of our stuff is done organically, its all completely organic we haven’t done a lot of advertising to get likes. Its all very high quality likes, so yea we were pretty active on that end of it. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
ZacBob: And what did you do on social media? Did you ramp up before your campaign? Did you run any contests?
Doug from Jerky: Pre-launch we didn’t do much like I said. Mostly kind of teaser stuff, like we got something coming up, but once it was actually launched we put pictures and other footage that wasn’t actually in the video. Different perspective and different little takes on them. Just something to generate a little bit of interest and show them what it was about in a quicker format.
ZacBob: So what do you think was the main source of advertising for your campaign?
Doug from Jerky: Organic, a lot of it was organic from Kickstarter traffic. Apparently it got enough organic traffic from Kickstarter.com. But then a lot of it was friends and social media and family quite honestly.
Doug from Jerky: No it wasn’t any different than anybody else. You know we blasted it out to every in our personal and our business social media stuff. And on the personal side of it, it was our friends and our family and then obviously our customer base and that kind of stuff. So we obviously asked to share and if they could back it we would appreciate it and if they could share it we would appreciate it and that every little thing that everyone did would be appreciated. So a lot of friends and family forwarded it on they shared it with their audience and that was a big help too.
ZacBob: They say that you should be able to fund a large percentage of your campaign through your direct network, meaning your friends and family. What percentage of backers came from your direct network? Do you know?
Doug from Jerky: Yea I don’t have that number exactly, I mean… Yea I don’t have that number.
ZacBob: If you were a guessing man.
Doug from Jerky: If I were guessing, I would say 30 percent plus.
Doug from Jerky: Yea if I had to break it down I would say that 1/3 of it was friends and family, another 1/3 was organic through Kickstarter and the 1/3 believe it or not was local. I think one of my biggest takeaways from this thing, and I don’t know if it works everywhere or if this is just unique to Oklahoma City because I do think Oklahoma City is unique in this aspect. I was blown away by how many people backed it; because you go to Kickstarter and you can look at all Kickstarter projects that are launched in your town. I was blown away by how many people who backed our project based on that alone. They didn’t know anything about us, they just knew we were in Oklahoma City. We had a project and they really wanted to back people in Oklahoma City. So we got a few pretty sizeable pledges from people who came to us strictly through the local part of Kickstarter and that was pretty neat.
ZacBob: You know just hearing that part really makes me miss home. As someone born and raised in Oklahoma, I know exactly what your talking about. The community there is really like no other. And in just a few weeks time, I will be returning home. So enough about me, sorry for getting side tracked. Did you send traffic from your website to Kickstarter? I know you have Jerky.com so with your sells were you saying “hey instead of buying here, come check us out on Kickstarter?”
Doug from Jerky: We didn’t actually pitch a call to action like that, but yea we did a homepage banner. And then we plugged it into a few spots through the whole process.
ZacBob: What about staff picks or popular projects portion? A lot of times campaigns will be features in this section of Kickstarter and that will just put them over the top. Was Jerky Truck ever in any of theses sections of Kickstarter?
Doug from Jerky: To my knowledge that wasn’t us. I don’t know what it takes to get that. But I don’t think we were a part of that.
ZacBob: I know in the pre-show and your introduction you were talking about going to events. Throughout your Kickstarter campaign were you attending events and marketing your campaign at the same time?
Doug from Jerky: Yeah! The events we did while the project was live, we made little fliers at the local events we did. And everybody we came into contact with we handed those out. The thing about that is its hard to track, so I cant really speak on the effectiveness of it. But I guess at the end of the day we did get a lot of local support. Whether its from our marketing efforts or whether it was just from people stumbling onto us I don’t know. But I did talk to a couple backers and they said quite specifically said the only reason they did it was because were in Oklahoma City and they just wanted to back something local.
ZacBob: Can you name, or give an example of what types of events you were attending?
Doug from Jerky: Yea so in Oklahoma city if I had to point you to one event its called H and 8th. Which is short for Hudson and 8th. Its this event that started out with a couple of food trucks, It’s the last Friday of every month. It started off with a couple of food trucks and then it progressed to more food trucks and a live band and it kept growing and growing. And again your talking about Oklahoma City supporting local stuff and people just started coming out of the woodwork to support this thing. And it kept growing and growing and growing and now its like spread out across three or four city blocks, its forty plus food trucks all lined up on one side of the street. They have bands all night long it’s a family friendly environment. There’s face painting and beer and soda and all sorts of stuff. And it really just turns into this big street party. So last month there was almost 30,000 people at this one local event on Friday night and its to the point where its reaching the capacity for people on a city block. But this thing is getting so big and there is so many people at this event Anyway H & 8th is really good and quite honestly that was the take off for the Jerky Truck and everything that were doing locally.
ZacBob: So basically you just used the community at this event and the community just really rallied around your campaign and helped you accomplish your goal.
Doug from Jerky: Oh absolutely, and give a little plug to Oklahoma City. I’m even blown away to this day with a lot of local events that we do. And again I don’t know if its like this other places, or if I’m just to far in the forest here. Oklahoma City seems to be unique in the way that people around here really are dedicated to the community. You know a lot of places people talk about community and they talk about keep it local and everything else. But in Oklahoma City there is something about it that man, people mean it. So yea were incredibly thrilled and incredibly honored that people supported us for no other reason than we were in their hometown. That’s pretty neat.
ZacBob: Oklahoma City, cant wait to get back. So was there a turning point in your campaign when the pledges just started pouring in and you knew you would hit your goal?
Doug from Jerky: You’re going to hear a lot about it, and after we launched I did a little research and found that people call it the brick wall. Were they launch and initially get a whole lot of traffic and a whole lot of traction and then things are really picking up and then at some point it just completely plateaus and it stops for awhile. And that’s when people really start worrying. But that’s also when a lot of people start marketing the hardest. So yea we saw a lot of action in the beginning and a lot of action in the end.
Doug from Jerky: I don’t know that I have any qualms with the way that any of the Kickstarter stuff went. I will say that getting it started was a bit of a pain in the ass. I remember now, apparently a week before we launched, you can Google this, because apparently there was some sort of fraudulent scam that was centered around a beef jerky project. So that was bad timing on my part, apparently someone launched a project, raised a whole lot of money really quickly, and right at the end of it, Kickstarter pulled the plug on the whole thing. I don’t know the details or how much of its true and how much of its not. You can Google it and find some stuff on it. But anyways it was bad timing for me because we tried to launch our product the next week and then Kickstarter comes in with their heighten walls and their like they don’t want to touch anything jerky with a ten foot pole. So I do remember just us getting to the point were we could launch our campaign, was a bit of a pain in the ass. Because they required us to verify all sorts of stuff that I don’t think they normally require. But other than that I don’t know that I have any qualms with the way the whole thing went. Yea the top of my head I don’t think there is anything.
Doug from Jerky: The importance of pre-marketing and pre-launch. I totally underestimated that. And again we kind of went into the first one, sounds kind of weird but preparing to fail, learning from it, then re-launching it. With everything we learned from it. The biggest thing I would say, is I underestimated the importance of pre-launch. Working with other websites, working with bloggers to help build up the hype for it ahead of time. I think that was our biggest downfall, our biggest weakness. We barely were successful because I mean it was bye 100 or 200 dollars. The pre-launch on that was close to being make or break on my opinion.
ZacBob: Again for everyone listening, that’s why you should start today. Start now, launch your Facebook pages, your Twitter accounts, start doing. After this episode get out there and do something that contributes towards your crowdfunding campaign. Whether that’s opening that Twitter account, or registering with Kickstarter, just start doing something. Doug time for the last question, and it’s the best advice you can give to any entrepreneurs, or small business owners, or what I like to call crowdfunders who are about to launch their very own campaign. What is the best tip or advice you have for them?
Doug from Jerky: I don’t consider myself a crowdfunding expert by any means so… I don’t know most of my experience and my input here would be from, not from launching a product myself but be from choosing what project I’m going to back. Have rewards that make sense. Have rewards that people actually want. Make sure you got a good order, make sure you got a good pitch for your project. I think our project was unique because a lot of times your backing the actual production of a good or a product or a service. But ours was to make this truck that most backers aren’t ever even going to see. So ours was really kind of unique in comparisons to the other stuff. The projects I usually back are generally the projects with product design. So I’m looking for things that appeal to me and solve a problem and they seem to be at a good value. So I would say if your project is centered around a product or service that ads value, that would be the thing to focus on.
ZacBob: Now that your project has ended, were can people go to find more jerky!
ZacBob: And were can people go to find you Doug?
Doug from Jerky: Were on Facebook and Twitter just jerky. Facebook.com/Jerky. Twitter were just @Jerky. Yea we would love to hook up with anyone from the crowdfunding industry. I’m not as active in it as I would like to be because I really do find it fascinating and I think it’s an awesome industry. So anybody in crowdfunding wants to connect I would appreciate it. I always want to stay in the loop with what’s going on.
ZacBob: I know I said previously that was the last question, but do you think there will being anymore Jerky crowdfunding campaigns in the future?
Doug from Jerky: Funny you ask, Yes. We got something that I’ve been working on. A product I made for myself and I didn’t intend to sell it. Its something that we made, in fact its for use with the Jerky truck. Again I didn’t intend to make this thing for production, I literally machined the thing in my garage. But every time someone see’s it at a show or event that were at, we get four or five people that think it’s the coolest thing they ever seen, and they keep asking to buy mine. With a lot of urging I think were going to launch one next month on this project.
Doug from Jerky: Nope, I appreciate you guys listening to me. Again I’m not a crowdfunding expert but I hope you found something of use out of my input on it. Again were not experts, just beef jerky salesman trying to do something fun. Good luck to you I hope we helped.
ZacBob: Thanks for coming on the show Doug. We couldnt have a crowdfunding show without crowdfunders! So if your interested in getting your campaign on the show, just send me a tweet @CrowdFundGenius, just say hey, you would like to speak about your campaign on our show. I cant promise it will run at the same time as your campaign, but I can promise that people will listen and hear about your product. As for everyone else listening and thinking about doing a campaign? What are you waiting on! Get started! It takes weeks, and months to build an audience that’s capable of supporting your next big idea for Kickstarter or Indiegogo. So thank you for listening, but start taking action and as always happy crowdfunding. ZacBob Out!