Ideally, you want contributions to your first crowdfunding campaign to take off like a snowball falling downhill. What's not so obvious is just how crucial the first few hours, even minutes, of the campaign are to getting that momentum going.  

Scanadu, which developed a mobile health device to measure vital signs, reached its total funding goal of $100,000 within an hour of opening its campaign last year. By the time the team showed up for work at 9 am that day, they had doubled their objective. At the end of the 30 days that the campaign ran, the company raised a total of $1.6 million -- a record on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo.

"We often encourage campaign owners to raise about a third of their campaign goal in the first 24/48 hours after going live," Breanna DiGiammarino, cause director at Indiegogo, said. She spoke this week before an audience of about 100 at a local HealthTech women Meetup in San Francisco. 

While Scanadu clearly had no issues meeting and then exceeding the recommendation, you're certainly in good company if you find this idea daunting.  

The good news is, you're not expected to just hit "start" and automatically acquire thousands of campaign supporters. There are a variety of tactics you can use to ensure that you're off and running upon launch. Scanadu Cofounder Sam De Brouwer and other campaign organizers were on hand to share their tips at the meetup. Here's what they suggested: 

1. Roundup local supporters and show them a good time. Striving to hit that one-third mark early, concierge medicine startup PlushCare threw a party the night its campaign launched.  

"We had booze and food and there were people there that just started contributing -- friends, family. I think that night we hit 15 percent of our goal," PlushCare Cofounder Ryan McQuaid said.  

"If people showed up the next day there was no money raised, we probably wouldn't have gotten much," McQuaid added. PlushCare's campaign, still going on now, has about $3,000 of its $25,000 goal left to raise.

2. Design perk offerings with early adopters in mind. Scanadu had the benefit of being a one and a half year old company when it launched its campaign last May. De Brouwer already knew her potential customers and what they were most likely to get excited about. She designed her perk offerings, or rewards for those who contribute a certain amount of money, with that in mind, she said.

For example, the earliest fans of the company were on Scanadu's mailing list. De Brouwer emailed them about three minutes before the campaign went live, and they received the chance claim a Scanadu Scout device for an early bird rate of $149. Within an hour the special had sold out. 

Next, De Brouwer designed a package for the quantified self community. "Those are data freaks, they want to try everything," she said. As part of the perk system, she promised quantified selfers that they'd get access to new Scanadu additional features before anyone else. This perk, too, sold out.

3. Acknowledge that you're asking for help. It's not lost on De Brouwer that the well-planned perk system isn't really what generated the support from Scanadu's fans. Crowdfunding allows customers to show a company just how much they want them to succeed. And with those contributions, funders did Scanadu a huge favor to say the least.  

"Never be afraid to ask for help," De Brouwer said, recalling some good advice she'd once gotten. "Because if your project, if your company is worth the help you, will get that help," she said.

Published on: Mar 6, 2014