This is where we write a long, sappy thank-you message to everyone, generalizing how much we appreciate you guys, how this wouldn't have been possible without you, and promising to deliver something great. The thing is, I'm not going to do that. I mean, yes, we're absolutely thankful and intend on delivering something great, but that's not newsworthy, nor something anyone actually wants to waste time reading about.
Instead, this is going to be a bit of a dissection of our process and actual decisions that are being made behind-the-scenes. We intend on maintaining transparency throughout the entire fulfillment process, and though we will be keeping backers updated via Kickstarter updates, we'll be throwing stream-of-consciousness sorts of updates into this blog. So let's start off with initial reactions to funding.
As I write this, I am up in Toronto with my girlfriend (POST-VACATION EDIT: now fiancee!). The last couple days of the Kickstarter have been exhausting as I have been struggling to keep up with the campaign while trying not to obsess over every vibration my phone makes as to enjoy the trip and time away. Luckily, I tend to wake up at 7am every day, while she certainly does not, which gave me time to thank backers, update privatedie.com, respond to vendors/manufacturers, crunch numbers, and write this post. My girlfriend has been an absolute trooper in dealing with my divided attention, and I'm glad we have a couple more days to really relax before coming home and going immediately to work.
The best thing is the campaign, even with my completely divided attention, didn't falter a step. Austin and Jacob have been updating graphics, interacting with backers, scheduling event appearances, and responding to emails. I really feel the thing that sets our company apart is the true investment of three founders, which gives us redundancy not available to one-man shows. Yes, making and promoting board games is a lot of work, but I think people severely underestimate how much work the Kickstarter itself can be. Having three guys not only helps divide the labor among us, but it really benefits backers since they're far more likely to get an almost immediate response from someone.
I know I said I'd avoid cliches, but it's a cliche for a reason. The backers are the sole reason we're able to produce Private Die on a large scale, and we're in a somewhat unique position to give back and show real appreciation. We're ordering parts a la carte from various manufacturers and literally packing the boxes ourselves. That means no pre-sealed, straight-off-the-boat, Chinese-made games. We are directly involved in quality control, which should mean way fewer surprises when it comes to missing/broken/warped parts and much easier handling of stretch goals.
All of the parts are going to be high quality, and we know that since we're dealing with known variables. Instead of trusting the same Chinese company that makes dice to print (or seamlessly outsource the printing of) the cards, we're just going to deal directly with a card printing company for the cards. In our case, it means The Game Crafter, which is an interesting story in itself. In a nutshell, we weren't going to use them until they very recently announced better quality and bulk pricing for their standard cards. All of a sudden, they're offering industry standard cards at better-than-average prices. It's a no-brainer.
On that same note, we're using American plastics manufacturers, specifically Chessex for dice. I don't even need to write a paragraph about the quality of their dice, but I can explain how we arrived at the decision to use them: research. I did a bunch of searches for dice quality comparisons, both on Google and on Board Game Geek, and the trend was quite clear. People really like Chessex dice, and use them as sort of a gold standard by which all other dice are judged. That was all we needed to know, and it certainly doesn't hurt that they give some rather steep discounts when you are ordering thousands of dice.
We have backers from the USA, Canada, the UK, Australia, Denmark, France, Mexico, Germany, Malaysia, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Switzerland, New Zealand, and the Netherlands. That is insane. We cannot believe how much international support we received, and we're thrilled that we were able to cover more than 50% of all international shipping costs. We weren't able to open it up until after we funded, but we're certainly glad we did. Private Die will be played all over the world!
We will definitely be using this same strategy in the future: no international shipping until after we fund (to make sure we don't end up short due to the way Kickstarter rolls shipping costs into the total funding goal), but try to subsidize shipping as much as we can after we open it up. It sucks that international backers sometimes have to pay for a game twice just to get it shipped to them, and we will do what we can to lighten to load where possible.
We shot way past our original goal of $3,000. As the numbers kept rising, my personal assumption was that we'd end roughly where we did last year, with about $8,000, but man was I wrong. We ended up at $13,001, or 433% of our $3,000 goal. I wish I knew what we did right, but I'm not sure I do. One definite advantage was our failed campaign last year.
We had a 44% rate of returning backers from the original launch, which really helped get the ball rolling quickly on day #1. That momentum almost certainly helped carry us so far past our goal. Until I'm back from Canada and get a chance to really look at numbers and trends, I don't have a solid read on what went right, but I will provide more information in a future blog post after I do.
This is just the beginning. We will be posting progress updates here, and we will be going into much more detail than the Kickstarter updates, which will be more concise. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will try to address them quickly!
Thank you backers!