One year ago I wrote about the rise and fall of LaunchBoom… along with our plan to rise again. If you want the whole story, you can read about it here.
Here’s the 10 second version:
- We grew like crazy in 2020 and went from 25 to 65 team members
- Cracks started to form in the business model as the “covid bubble” popped
- We went through two rounds of layoffs: one in 2021 and one in 2022
- I thought things were stabilized, then a senior member of the team quit
- I realized the problem must stem from my leadership
- In my reflection, I became clear that I wasn’t excited about what we were building any more and the business fundamentally needed to change
- We laid off half the team and refocused on a vision I was excited about
The new vision got rid of our agency services, which made up nearly 70% of our revenue. It seemed like a stupid move from the outside, but we believed in the new strategy.
The new vision was to build a tech-enabled consulting company.
Our flagship program was called LaunchBoom Accelerator and it married software and expert support in one. This new approach took the tools of our agency (software, systems, templates, etc.) and made it accessible to the 99% of creators who didn’t want or more importantly, need to pay for agency services.
No one was doing this – making it both scary and exciting.
So, how’d it go?
Well, this blog post will answer that question – I’ll tell the story of how our crazy experiment went over the past year and where it’s going next.
Going all in
Going into 2023, we had a team of 18. We were small in size, aligned on vision, and focused on execution. We all agreed there was no going back to the old way. We burned all the ships behind us. If we failed, that was it.
To embody this mentality of “going all in” we decided to start the year in Vegas.
CES has been an annual tradition for our team since 2016. Usually it’s just a small group of us. But this time, we brought most of our team.
We exhibited with our friends at Jellop & Kickstarter and threw a big cocktail party. There was an open bar. As you can guess, it was pretty popular with nearly 400 people coming through.
We got business out of CES, sure. But that wasn’t the best part.
CES created a bond between our team. One that was impossible to recreate through Google Meets or Zoom calls. We felt a shared drive to make this crazy bet work.
Our bet paid off
Since we reduced our team size so much, our fixed monthly expenses in 2023 dropped dramatically. But remember, we also shut down our agency services, which meant our revenue also dropped.
Because of this, I wasn’t forecasting much profit in Q1.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Our revenue was up 49.6% over forecast and our profit margin was up nearly 100% over forecast.
We did all this without increasing headcount. The new model not only served an underserved market, it was way more scalable – a win-win if I’ve ever seen one.
We launched a lot of products
When I say a lot. I mean a lot.
Here’s the stats:
- Total 2023 launches: 168
- Total raised: $24,461,953
- Average raise / launch: $149,158
168 launches is no small feat.
No other crowdfunding agency or consultancy launched as many as us in 2023.
We set crowdfunding records
Within those 168 launches, we helped creators break some crowdfunding records. I’ll begin with our record breaking hotel and glamping launch – the category that we started back in 2020 with the launch of Bubble Hotel.
Biggest hotel & glamping launch
When Mirror Hotels launched in April of 2023, it was pretty clear we were going to set some records. We raised over $1M in five hours. It was wild.
It went on to raise nearly $1.7M and still remains the most funded hotel project to this day.
Biggest 5E launch
Legends of Avantris launched their first Kickstarter in October of 2023. Twenty-four hours after the launch, they had raised $1.2M.
One of my favorite moments was watching them hit the $1M milestone. They live streamed the whole thing on Twitch and popped champagne once they crossed the 1 milly mark. Here’s the moment it happened:
Biggest smart ring launch
Ring One launched their first Indiegogo project in September of 2023. They became not only the fastest smart ring launch to hit $1M but the largest smart ring launch ever at over $1.3M raised.
Go check out the product by the way. It’s awesome.
My original plan was to make this blog post follow a linear timeline. Well, that didn’t happen. So here’s a list of big wins from throughout the year.
Built our software
One of the key parts of our new business strategy was to build software. We thought that if we could literally codify our system, we would be able to make our crowdfunding strategy way more accessible to creators.
We launched the beta version of our software in Q4 of 2022 and officially took off the training wheels in Q2 of 2023.
We called it LaunchKit.
The software launched with three main features:
- LaunchBoom Reservation Funnel: Create your own reservation funnel with our drag-and-drop builder in less than 15 minutes.
- LaunchBoom Audiences: Target our 9 million+ backer database and get a head start with Meta ads.
- LaunchBoom Analytics: Understand your most important numbers in seconds
Our tech made launching a product faster, cheaper and more effective. We’re just getting started here though – a lot more to come in 2024.
Launched our sourcing & manufacturing program
At the beginning of the year, our Director of Consulting, Joe Piperni reached out to Kian Golzari. Kian is one of the world’s leading experts in product sourcing and manufacturing.
He’s personally developed over 2,500 products and worked with brands like Google, the NBA, and the Olympics… you know, small brands.
Anyways, Joe invited Kian to be a guest speaker for our LaunchBoom Creator community. He agreed and came on as a guest speaker for the first time in March of 2023.
That meeting completely blew me away.
We had about 60 LaunchBoom Creators on the call and Kian asked “On a scale of 0 to 10, what’s your knowledge of sourcing and manufacturing?”
The answers were overwhelmingly 0.
I couldn’t believe it.
These were my clients who were committed to launching their product and they knew virtually nothing about how they were going to manufacture it.
I did some digging and found out that Kickstarter had published a study and found that nearly 1 in 10 “successful” projects never ship.
At that moment, we knew there was an opportunity here.
Kian joined LaunchBoom as our sourcing & manufacturing expert and we launched a new program called SourceBoom.
This program was structured very similar to our LaunchBoom Accelerator program, but focused on helping our creators source top suppliers, manufacture and fulfill their products.
This one’s just getting started but because the need is so big here, I’m very excited to see how we grow this in 2024.
Launched our tabletop games program
The games category makes up over 30% of all the funds raised on Kickstarter.
One of our first game launches was Botany, who I mentioned earlier. Their campaign launched in May of 2023 and raised $1,057,307.
“Maybe they’re an outlier,” I thought. Until we made the pivot, we’d never launched a game.
Then we had a few other games launch:
- Alpha Clash who raised $422,809
- Bear Mountain Camping Adventure who raised $781,450
- The Crooked Moon who raised $4,020,234
It was pretty clear that our system was built for games.
With that being said, we knew that there were some important nuances to a games launch that were important to take into consideration. So we decided to create a completely new program focused solely on games.
We called it LaunchBoom Games.
It officially launched in August, but it’s grown quickly. We have over 100 LaunchBoom Games creators in the program, with one creator already launching and raising €1,429,286.
It’d be hard to overstate the amount of opportunity here.
2024’s going to be the year of games.
Made a splash at gaming conventions
Our events team was busy this year. And when I say “team” I mean our amazing Director of Events, CK.
On top of throwing a 400 person party in Las Vegas for CES, two Crowdfunded Summits with thousands of attendees, and 50+ live webinars, she thought she could do a bit more…
Why not also make a splash at gaming conventions?
First, she took a small group out to GenCon, but the real magic was at PAX Unplugged. We had an amazing exhibit and also threw a party with our friends at Kickstarter. There were so many intricate and awesome details that CK thought of for our exhibit, but there are two I want to point out.
First, she rallied our team to create the first edition of the LaunchBoom Games comic book.
Second, she made a cutout of our Senior Crowdfunding Consultant, Spencer, and invited attendees to design his next tattoo.
Story time… Spencer promised the Crooked Moon team that if they raised $1M, he’d get their logo tattooed on his arm. Well, they hit $1M in less than 24 hours and went on to raise $4M. Spencer followed through (see the photo below) and forever cemented this moment into the annals of LaunchBoom’s history.
Became a YouTuber
I have a confession. I don’t really care for streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, etc. But I do care about YouTube. I’ve always secretly dreamt about starting my own YouTube channel.
Well, it finally happened in 2023.
Our LaunchBoom YouTube channel has finally come back to life and we are now releasing weekly content. Here are some of my favorite videos we produced in 2023:
Launched the Masters of Crowdfunding Podcast
Kevin Liang, one of our Product Launch Directors, decided it was time we had our own podcast. With 100% his own initiative, he got the thing launched. We called it the Masters of Crowdfunding podcast and we’ve got nine episodes so far.
Not everything was sunshine and daisies though. Here were some of my more notable fails from the year.
LaunchKit SaaS fail
I thought we should separate LaunchKit into its own website and make it a SaaS product. I was so convinced that this was the right idea that I almost pulled the trigger on buying LaunchKit.com for $50K.
My business partner and CTO, Mike, talked me out of it and we settled on buying getlaunchkit.com. Let’s all thank Mike for stopping me from making a dumb decision.
We launched the software as a SaaS product at our Crowdfunded Summit in May. We got over a hundred people to sign up for the free trial. It felt pretty cool to see that. But it didn’t turn into anything meaningful.
I was hoping that it would yield some good leads for the business, but it just confused the sales process and made things more complicated. When things get too complicated, it’s time to simplify. So that’s what we did. We stopped offering it as a SaaS and decided to only offer it to paid LaunchBoom clients.
Within three months of making the pivot, we launched our second consulting program. It was called ScaleBoom. While our flagship LaunchBoom Accelerator program focused on crowdfunding, ScaleBoom focused on e-commerce. The idea was we could help scale their e-commerce business after their launch.
But, after a year of running the program, it didn’t make sense in practice.
One of our most senior consultants, Spencer Knowlton, was leading ScaleBoom. He was finding a lot of success with the ScaleBoom clients he worked with, but the volume of new clients wasn’t very high. Meanwhile, our LaunchBoom Accelerator program was growing rapidly. So much so that we were looking to make a hire to support that team.
While in the last round of interviews, I realized that the best candidate for the role was on our team. They were just out of position.
Spencer got back from a two week vacation through Europe and I jumped on a call with him.
It was an hour long conversation but here’s the two sentence version:
Me: I think we should shut down ScaleBoom, move you over to LaunchBoom Accelerator, and focus our business even more.
Spencer: I’m down.
And just like that we shut down ScaleBoom and moved Spencer over to LaunchBoom Accelerator.
What’s next in 2024
To wrap this up, 2023 far exceeded my expectations. I’m proud of my team and I’m stoked for 2024, but we have a lot to do.
I won’t share everything, but I’ll tell you this… we have three big updates in the new year that I believe will change the industry:
- A partnership
- A technology
- A program
That’s all I’ll say for now. Sorry. This chapter ends on a cliffhanger.
Actually, one more thing.
To my business partners, team members (past and present), clients, and partners who supported this transition, I want to say thank you. We made a big bet in 2023 and it wouldn’t have been possible to accomplish what we did without you.
Cheers to an even better 2024.