Simon Griffiths,Co-Founder & CEO of Who Gives A Crap
Simon Griffiths Explains How He Raised $66,000 by Sitting on a Toilet
Simon Griffiths sat down for what he believed in and, it turned out, parking it on a toilet was an epic marketing win for a good cause.
Griffiths and the team behind Who Gives a Crap toilet paper employed a clever stunt in which they livestreamed their co-founder sitting on a toilet until they reached their crowdfunding goal, and it worked. The company gives half of its profits to charity to increase access to toilets and sanitation in developing countries.
But it takes more than a good cause and a good marketing ploy to have a successful crowdfunding campaign. The team also relied on thorough preparation and consistent messaging to blow away their goal.
Griffiths and his co-founder Jehan Ratnatunga did a first take on their video in January 2012, hoping to launch soon after. But they realized that it wasn’t quite what they wanted, so they went back and tried again, even taking the time to get advice from an ad firm in Melbourne.
The video wasn’t the only thing they had to prepare. The team wanted to be sure that their campaign would be a coherent, quality whole, and if that meant delaying the launch so that they would have time to refine things, that was OK.
“We thought we’d go live in February or March, and then it just kept on getting continuously pushed back, and then it wasn’t until July that the campaign did go live,” Griffiths says.
They were only working on the campaign part-time during the preparation phase, and it ended up taking six months for all of their ideas to come together in a way that they were happy with. Preparing an effective campaign isn’t like heating up a microwave dinner. It’s more like cooking a multi-course feast. It takes time.
- What makes your campaign newsworthy and why people should care
- How to make your campaign as shareable as possible
- Why the first 24 hours are the most important in any crowdfunding campaign
- Kickstarter or Indiegogo. How to pick the one that works for you
- How to keep your message consistent across every media channels
Full Transcript of the Podcast with Simon Griffiths
Nathan: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Foundr Podcast. My name is Nathan Chan and I’m your host coming to you live from hometown, Melbourne, Australia. This episode is part four of the six-piece crowdfunding series. We’re doing this…If you’re just joining us, because we’re running a crowdfunding campaign ourself and we wanted to, you know, interview some of the top crowdfunding campaigners, whether it’s Indiegogo, Kickstarter, see how they did it, because we wanted to learn how to crush our own campaign.
Now we are one week in. If you are following us along the way, make sure you go to Foundrmag, foundrmag.com/book and you can see how our campaign is going. We were lucky enough to be able to utilize a lot of what you’re learning from these, you know, the past four episodes and you know, the next two to come. You’ll be able to learn so much gold, and we’ve implemented all this stuff, and it does work. Trust me, it does work. We got funded in three days, and we’re creating this coffee table book, it’s called “Foundr Version 1.0” and it has just interviews, insights, top lessons, tips from some of the greatest entrepreneurs of our generation like Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington, Seth Godin, you name it. So many more, Barbara Corcoran. So if you do enjoy this podcast, I highly encourage you to go and check out that crowdfunding campaign. You can see how we’re going, and I’d absolutely love your support.
If you’d want to get a physical book, it’s our first physical product. A small portion of every book sold goes to charity. So, you know, it’s just an absolute no-brainer, and I know you’re going to love this book. It’s never been done before.
Now, I cannot stress enough, that’s it from me. Now let’s talk about today’s guest. His name is Simon Griffiths, and he’s the founder of a company called Who Gives a Crap. And they provide toilet paper. But it’s a social enterprise, and the way that he raised money for his crowdfunding campaign was really, really interesting. I’m gonna leave it to you guys. I’m not gonna tell you how, but he’s… It’s a gorilla marketing techniques, and it’s so out there, like, what he did. How could you not get press?
So it’s something to think about. Something to shake things up for your guys, and I know you’re going to love this episode. So that’s it from me. I just want to highly urge you, go and check out the campaign. We’d love your support. We need to get this book into the hands of as many entrepreneurs as possible because it’s going to change so many lives.
So I don’t mean to sound pushy, don’t mean to sound salesy, I just believe in it. So you can go to foundrmag, F-O-U-N-D-R-M-A-G.com/book to check out the campaign. And now it’s time for the show.
I was really impressed by your campaign, Who Gives a Crap, for your business and for this idea. And I just wanted to know firstly, what was your greatest struggle with the campaign?
Simon: I guess for us there was…I mean, our campaign’s a bit different to most people’s that there was a big PR component alongside it, and probably what’s quite different is that there was a really strict, kind of, time frame for that as well in that basically, if we didn’t hit our target relatively quickly, there could be some pretty significant like, physical ramifications for me personally. So I was stuck on a toilet.
Yeah, so I guess the biggest thing for us was that normally with a PR campaign like that, you’ve got more time to kind of build the campaign and get the coverage that you need, whereas for us, we had to basically get everything in the first 24 hours. Otherwise, there wasn’t much point in it happening after that point. And so that was really tricky to kind of time and get all of that right.
And we worked with a PR firm to do that just because it would have been physically impossible for us to that with, you know, the size of our team. So it ended up kind of working quite well, but we had some really like, bizarre things happen, like we had been covered multiple times by Huffington Post and a bunch of newer U.S. media outlets, had gone like crazy viral through Brazil and Greece, being on the front of page of one of the And then it took three days for the call-back. We’ve been chasing you guys for four days and been written up all across the world. Like, why is it suddenly happening…you know, how is it not news hear? Everywhere else is happy to write it up, so. That was kind of one of the most confusing things, and I suppose articles went live online about eight hours before we hit $50,000 target. So, pretty much midnight before we hit the target.
So by the time that came out, they didn’t actually have that much benefit left for us because the stunt was kind of winding up.
Nathan: I’m curious. What strategies and tactics would you give to somebody around getting press for their crowdfunding campaign?
Simon: The most tricky thing is that, you know, it’s gotta be news. If you’re going to newspapers, it’s got to be news. Otherwise, you need to find the right blogs or websites that report on the sort of thing that you’re crowdfunding for. So if it’s food and bev., obviously, you know, you’re brunch beats kind of style of media is gonna be on your hit list. If it’s more lifestyle products, than you need to be looking at your lifestyle blogs and the right kind of…targeting the right people, I suppose.
So for us, we had, I guess a pretty broad reach because of the stunt component, it was something that a lot of people were interested in writing up regardless of whether, you know, they normally talk about toilet paper, which no one does. And that was the point of our campaign. We knew that you know, we were dealing with a product that it was difficult to attract attention for, and as a result, we had to do something that would kind of make us stand out.
So, you know, if you’ve got an awesome product or a killer-cult following, you probably don’t need to sit in a toilet 52 hours, but when you’re selling, you know, potentially the world’s most boring product, then you need to kind of add some flair.
Nathan: Yeah. Look, I just have to say, it’s just a cool idea and it’s…like not just the idea for the campaign and the stunt, but like, what you’re doing and the impact you’re having on the world. And I’m curious, what are some of the key attributes you think that are required when somebody’s looking to come up, like, with an idea that’s feasible and take it to the crowdfunding…go down the crowdfunding route? Like, what are some key attributes that that product or service has to have?
Simon: Yeah. It’s tricky to say. I mean, you know, you can crowdfund pretty much anything and everything these days. I think people want to see that it’s something that’s realistic and anything can have quality issues, because I think it’s easy to now develop products that or crap from products that can be hard to physically develop, and then you can end up with something that’s not necessarily what you’re expecting.
To being able to commit to people of the quality side of things is really important, but yeah, I think it’s a really tricky question because, you know, it probably depends whether you’re…you know, what you’re creating, I guess.
Nathan: What is your best recommendation, from your experience, on getting traffic or getting your campaign found? I know you said that press was the biggest element for you. Was there any other strategies or tactics that you found to be very effective?
Simon: The things that we kind of were going for with our campaign were to one, make it newsworthy. Sort of create something that would make it something that people would write about on blogs and in newspapers. And then the other thing that was really important was to make it shareable. So, it’s one thing to get press written up, but you need to be able to amplify the number of people that will see that press by encouraging the audience that reads about to then go and tell someone else about it to share it and help spread the word. And that was a really key element for our campaign.
So it was about engaging potential support as to not only back us financially but to help us by sharing what we were doing with a larger audience, and so we, I guess, created, you know, a digital asset that was really valuable for someone to go and tell someone else about because it was, I guess, comical and interesting. And that was kind of what helped us to reach the audience that we did.
Nathan: I noticed you had a landing page as well for… I never saw your original one, but your second one where you needed to raise more. Do you recommend having like a landing page with a countdown timer or like a second one, or anything like that?
Simon: For our campaign, it was kind of crucial, because we couldn’t do everything that we needed to on the physical crowdfunding site, so we had to kind of… Yeah, we wanted to customize what our audience would see and have a single landing page that all of our…you know, the messaging that was created was all pointing to that one place. So that was kind of a key part of our campaign, but then also trying to figure out how to reduce the amount of friction to then get someone to go and physically, you know, back us financially from that page as well.
So it was, yeah, a little bit of an interesting process to go through. I think again, like, it sort of depends what you’re doing. If you got like a killer product and a killer story and you can tell that on the crowdfunding page, then there’s no reason to kind of go through that whole process and creating additional landing pages can confuse the message. Makes it harder to actually get somebody to actually physically give you money. So it’s probably, you know, something that I wouldn’t recommend as being a necessity, but in our case, it made sense because it was a very specific scenario.
Nathan: I see. And when it comes to the platform, why did you choose Indigegogo over Kickstarter? How did you work out what is the best platform for you guys?
Simon: So we were launching simultaneously in the U.S. and Australia. So we needed a platform that had as much currency as possible in both geographies. We did some quick kind of surveying to see which platforms people had heard of in both geographies and we found that that sort of, you know, meant that we had to be going probably with the U.S. platform because the Australian platforms that we were looking at hadn’t as much exposure in the U.S.
And also at the time, crowdfunding wasn’t something that was, you know, I think as understood as what it is now. So we needed to, I guess, have a platform that people were as familiar with as possible. So we ended up looking at Kickstarter and Indiegogo, and we went through the process of setting up Kickstarter and then was actually denied because we were in breach of their campaign rules, and we’re not sure exactly what reason that was for, but they…One of their rules is they don’t allow you to donate a portion of profits from the campaign or promise a future donation of a portion of profits. And so potentially, we were in breach of that with our campaign.
But yeah, it was a little bit tricky because the campaign guidelines changed whilst we were developing the campaign to go live. And so we had designed it around the initial guidelines that they had online and then they changed just before we tried to upload everything and get it happening.
Nathan: And when it came to planning the campaign, how long did that take and what would be recommended in time spent? Like how much do you think…Like how many hours did you guys spend? And how big is your team?
Simon: So at the time, our team was really kind of working on it properly, there was only sort of two of us. But we had additional people that were helping with all sorts of stuff from web dev, to graphic design, to you know, the PR side of things that we already talked about. So it was a lot of people, kind of, I guess, across different layers of the campaign, but physically in our office, we had two at the time.
Now our campaign, again, was kind of you know, quite different because we knew that it was going to be a high-intensity, short campaign if it was going to be successful. And so there had to be a lot of planning in order to get all the ducks in a row, you know, to make those first 24-hours really count because we couldn’t rely on, you know, bringing it home in the final hours of the 30-day or longer campaign which is, yeah, what you will often see in crowdfunding campaigns, I guess.
So we’re probably, again, you know, not your typical scenario, and as a result, had a huge amount of planning that went into it, even to figuring out the right launch date. And think we tried to launch a week earlier and realized that we’d be colliding with the Fourth of July holiday in the U.S. which meant that you know, pretty much half the entire week was wiped out by half of the country being on holiday at the start of the week and half of the country being on holiday at the end of the week. And so we had to delay, basically to kind of capture the highest internet traffic period possible across the Australian and U.S. geographies.
Nathan: Wow. I see. So roughly, can you give us an estimate how long you guys planned this or worked on it in prep.?
Simon: Jehan and I kind of did our first take on a video in January and at that point realized that it probably wasn’t quite right. We then got some really awesome marketing advice from an ad firm in Melbourne that helped us to kind of develop what we were doing further and kind of tweak the concept. And we thought we’d go live probably in Feb. or March and then it kept up getting continuously pushed back and it literally wasn’t until July that the campaign actually did go live. So there was, you know, I guess a six-month gestation period. We weren’t working on it full time during that period, but it kind of took that long for all of the ideas to come together to kind of get it to the point where we were happy to execute on it.
And that’s, you know, again, it’s not typical for a regular crowdfunding campaign because we were really treating it as a brand launch and we’re testing a lot of other bits and pieces alongside whether, you know, it would financially back us. And because we’re working, you know, with toilet paper, which isn’t the most exciting product we had to…We thought it was necessary to create a very slick launch video so that we could kind of signal the quality of what we were looking to produce based on the quality of the video content that we created.
So it was… Yeah, I guess you know, a very specific case and that’s why it took us probably longer than what we’d recommend spending on a normal campaign.
Nathan: When it comes to the crowdfunding page, the crowdfunding landing page…I know you guys had a separate one as well. Are there any tactics or strategies around effective sales, copy, you know, how you would lay it out, videos?
Simon: I mean the main thing for us is that when someone’s going to a separate landing page, they can’t physically give you money from that page. So we would…figuring out how to reduce the friction of getting them from that page to the donation page and the whole…all of the messaging on that page is all about, take the next step. You know, push this button to go to the page where you can physically donate…you know, it’s all about backing us now. Get behind us now, was kind of the focus of that.
So…I mean, what was great about that page is we could customize every element. We could have multiple videos on there, which isn’t necessarily easy on some of the crowdfunding platforms. Do lots of bits and pieces to kind of get that right. And we also built this huge, kind of platform, that using discussion enabled our potential backers to come in have a conversation with us live to comment on what we were doing and kind of, you know, create engagement through that as well. So yeah, there were a lot of creative elements that went into that, but I guess, all of them were all about how we get someone to become a backer and how we can then get them to, you know, tell someone else about what we’re doing. So that was, I guess, the key messaging that we worked to.
Nathan: Okay. And, look, we have to work towards wrapping things up. I’d like two to three general tips that you would recommend to anyone looking to launch and run a successful campaign and get it fully funded.
Simon: Yeah, I guess planning is a big one. So it’s really about if you’re going out, what your strategy is you know, once the campaign goes live. Because it’s one thing to produce a campaign. It’s another to get people to physically back it. So there needs to be, you know, your outreach to your friends and family, which should be happening and be planned before the campaign actually goes live because typically for a stranger to come and support you, they want to see 20% to 30% of your campaign target already reached. Otherwise, they’ll be saying to themselves, “Look, if this person’s friends aren’t getting behind them, then why the hell would I?’
So friends and family is a big part of that. And then, you know, looking at who in your network can help kind of amplify the message and get that out to a larger audience by using their social media channels or media partnerships or contacts that you can leverage off. So planning’s definitely a big one.
I think then, yeah, physically figuring out what your messaging is so that when someone shares what you’re doing with whoever they can share it with, that messaging is consistent, regardless of whoever it is that’s sharing it. So, you don’t want them reading an article somewhere and ending up with a different message to what they get if they were looking physically at your campaign page. You want that message to be consistent, tweet-able, something that’s very easily shareable and all pointing back to the same place with the idea of converting whoever’s seeing that to become a backup.
And a third piece…oh I don’t know. I guess you don’t necessarily need to have the slickest video out there and for our products, we thought we did because we were…you know, again, we’re kind of working with toilet paper which isn’t super exciting. But there’s a ton of campaigns that you know, have shown that it’s not necessarily about how good your video is, it’s about how good this product that you’re trying to get people to back really is as well as a very successful launch campaign.
I think there’s two awesome articles that I’ve seen since we did campaign. One of them’s called, “How to Crowdfund $50,000 in Your Spare Time,” I think…
Simon: …in “Forbes.” And the other one is written by Mike Del Ponte who crowdfunded Soma on “The 4-Hour Workweek” on Tim Farriss’ blog. So both of those are worth looking at. Mike’s one goes into, you know, a hell of a lot of detail and goes, I think, deeper than what’s necessary. But the other article in “Forbes” I think is awesome, it kind of shows how feasible it is to, you know, get something off the ground without investing super ridiculous amounts of time which is, I think, really important. Because all you’re trying to do is prototype something and get enough backing to take it to the next stage.
Nathan: Wow. That’s great advice, man. And yeah, look, I just have to say, it’s such a cool idea. Like, who would not wanna just, like, get behind you, or look at what you’re doing, or tell your friends? And it was such a smart idea. Like it was really impressive.
Simon: Yeah. Thank you so much. We had a lot of fun with it and we’re still having a hell of a lot of fun with it. So, you know, crowdfunding is really all about what happens after that campaign wraps up and for us, it’s been awesome. So, yeah. It’s a lot of fun.
Nathan: Wow. How good was that episode guys? Really, really hope you enjoyed this episode and learned a ton, and you’re thinking about your crowdfunding campaign. Like I said at the start of this episode, we’re running our own right now. This is a social experiment that we don’t know if it will work. It’s a physical coffee table book, “best of” album, “best of” series, interviews of the insights of some of the greatest entrepreneurs of our generation,
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