Consultant Lifestyle: Shari Kjerland’s Kickstarter Success
The personal projects, talent, and lives of Valente Consultants are a constant source of inspiration. We are honored to share some of their stories with you in the new Consultant Lifestyle series. This week we share with you a story of Kickstarter success. Shari Kjerland, a Valente Consultant, and her husband, Erik Kjerland, recently met and surpassed their goal of $30,000 to release their upcoming board game, Slaughterball. In the interview, Shari gives insight to the game and tips for those wanting to do their own Kickstarter campaign.
Tell us about Slaughterball. What is it? Who is it geared towards?
Slaughterball is a competitive board game simulating a ferocious future bloodsport where 2-4 teams of genetically-engineered super-athletes clash in a remorseless steel pit. You score points by making goals and injuring opponents. Whomever has the most points at the end of six rounds wins! The game is geared towards people who like board games with cool pieces, dice rolling, and strategy.
How did the idea of Slaughterball come about?
Let me first mention that my husband, Erik, is the mastermind behind Slaughterball. There was an old sports board game called Blood Bowl that he liked. It was based on a fantasy theme, with elves, dwarves, zombies, and so on. Erik wanted to play a more realistic science-fiction sports board game. Since he’s been an avid board gamer for years, and dabbled in hobby game design, he decided to create the game himself. Inspiration for the theme and style of Slaughterball include the computer games Speedball and Smash TV, and the movies Rollerball and The Running Man. The glitz, glory, blatant marketing, and brutal extrapolation of today’s popular sports appealed to him. And he liked the idea of a science-fiction future world of cybernetics and genetic engineering.
What were the steps leading up to the Slaughterball Kickstarter?
Before starting the Kickstarter we had to design the game (Erik’s been working on it for nearly four years), hire artists, 3D modelers, and a graphic designer, create prototype game components, playtest the game, locate a factory, build a social network, create a Slaughterball web site, get the appropriate copyrights, research shipping options, create a Kickstarter video (we hired a professional videographer and voice actor), and more. Whew! It’s definitely a second job for Erik, and takes a lot of time. I handle many of the business aspects, attend conventions, edit all of the game content, and serve as a sounding board for ideas—none of which compares to the effort Erik has put into this. To add more credibility and to prepare for future games, we also started our board game company, Frog the What Games.
What was the outcome of the Kickstarter? What kind of preparation did you have to do to create a successful Kickstarter?
We raised 187% of our goal, and we hit our goal amount after only three days! In addition to the items listed in response to the previous question, the biggest Kickstarter-specific preparation for us was building a social network before the launch. We did a lot of advertising, a lot of playtesting at gaming conventions and game stores, created a Facebook page, tweeted, etc. We had about 1000 Facebook likes and 170 Twitter followers when we launched. This wasn’t an easy feat, because we’re an unknown name in the board game industry.
Are there any suggestions you would give someone who is interested in launching a Kickstarter of their own?
Research other Kickstarter projects similar to yours to see what worked for them and what didn’t. Read through the comments that backers have made on those Kickstarters and incorporate their suggestions. Also, it’s extremely important to build a social network and get the word out. Have your product as complete as possible before launching. Once your Kickstarter has launched, pay attention to what your backers are saying—they like to be involved in the project and often have good ideas. Make sure that you respond to their comments daily and be prepared to handle constructive criticism. Keep in mind that some backers don’t completely understand what goes into designing, manufacturing, and shipping a product, so some of their suggestions and requests can be unrealistic. But you can politely educate them. Lastly, most Kickstarters won’t make you rich, so don’t quit your job and plan on living off of the Kickstarter proceeds.
What are the next steps? Do you have a timeline for the product? Where can we find it?
We’re working to get a pledge manager set up to handle the post-Kickstarter tasks. We’re also working with the factory to get the game manufactured. It will be available around June 2015. You can find out more at slaughterball.net.
What has been the most rewarding part of the whole Slaughterball process to you?
Seeing my husband rewarded for all of the hard work and long hours he’s put into this game. It truly has been a labor of love for him, and I think his passion for this game will be evident to everyone who plays it. It’s also very rewarding to see the excitement building amongst our fans and backers. We have backers from all over the world who can hardly wait to get Slaughterball in their hands! We hear about people who are already planning Slaughterball leagues, and they’re really getting into creating back-stories for the athletes and sharing ideas for expansion teams and new arenas for the next release of Slaughterball. The hype has been great!