How Chaaipani’s Community Came Together To Create a Happy Place Online
Posted on 10 September, 2016 by Team Wishberry
Chaaipani is a project that wants to make the world a happier, more positive place. How? By creating a platform where people come and share stories of real people, that warm the heart. They crowdfunding for the same, and did an excellent job at that!
Chaaipani raised Rs. 5.18 lakhs of a goal of Rs. 4.5 lakhs from close to two hundred backers.
Now they’re back to tell us all about how they cracked the crowdfunding code, what they learnt in the process and what’s next on their plate!
How did you plan the outreach and promotions for your crowdfunding campaign?
We’ve been preparing for our crowdfunding campaign for over a month. We planned each and every activity for every single day. The one good thing that we had going for us was our existing audience base which we had built over twelve months. So for us, creating a buzz wasn’t a very big challenge. However, one important thing we did was to plan out how much will we raise from whom and when, when we’d make the announcements and reach out to these people, etc. We had informed and “prepared” 40-50% of our total backer base beforehand. The rest, we’d just left it all on magic. Which did happen.
Your campaign gained virality almost overnight! How did you manage to create this sort of snowball effect and early buzz?
Like I said, we had a really good, actionable audience base already on our social media and website. That helped us.
In the first week, we had asked our immediate network (the ones we were fully confident about) to fund us. Most of these people were our friends, people we had written about on our platform, my ex-employers and colleagues, my father's corporate network, our subscribers and readers. This created a loud noise around, since most of these people were the ones others "listen to".
The next week was "magic" period. Which clearly didn't happen. I think we raised only some 20-30k in the second week. Desperate and scared, this was when I wrote to every possible person I could write to - friends I had not spoken to for years, relatives I hadn't attended functions of. And every influential person whose email id I could get hands on. In fact, I even wrote to Tim Cook, Jeff Bezos, everyone in the Ambani family, Adanis, Jindals, and even Larry Page!
I'd send 50 customized e-mails every day, extracting email ids from email-hunter sites.
Second half of the second week got us some "magical" backing from some of these people I had written to. My emails managed to get a 5% conversion. Some of the popular backers included Ritesh Aggarwal of Oyo rooms who backed us within 15 minutes of receiving the cold mail. People like him got us a whole lot of credibility, and encouraged more people to at least have a look at the project.
Next, from day 1 of week 2, I went “offline”, visiting builders, industrialists at random. I went to one of the emerging real estate areas of Ahmedabad and went hopping from one construction site to another, meeting the builders if they were available. Every builder gave at least Rs. 2500.
We were "almost there" before the third week began, but since I had exhausted all contacts across all levels of my network, I wrote to people who had backed us and asked them to help get more backers. And that's when "magic" happened again.
I would like to mention Rahul Narvekar, ex-CEO of Fashionandyou, who came to our rescue! I had met him just once, to interview him. When there was nothing else to try, I just made a call to him and told him about the situation, the fact that no media was covering us, and we hadn't progressed at all since last 3 days. Over the next 3 days, he got us backing of around 1 lakh from his network. By the middle of the third week, we had met our crowdfunding goal.
We also got some very unexpected unknown backers who backed us with big amounts.
What challenges did you face during your crowdfunding campaign? How did you overcome them?
A major downer was when we realized that no media platform wanted to cover our crowdfunding campaign, since we were a media platform too. We were completely relying on media outreach for the next 40% of our funding amount.
I will admit, I was angry and frustrated at this news. This is when I decided to go back to the conventional word-of-mouth communication. I was very honest with our existing backers about the situation, and fortunately, ALL of them SUPER supportive. Everyone went screaming on their social media and personal networks about the campaign and that worked! There was this very evident and overwhelming feeling in all of them: "this is our project, let’s make it happen".
What has been the highlight of the whole experience?
If you don't ask, the answer is always no.
What are some of the key learnings you've garnered from crowdfunding?
Crowdfunding, no matter for how small a duration, is an emotionally tiring task. It’s a rollercoaster ride. You never know whether the next moment will bring happiness or disappointment.
It is VERY difficult to run existing operations, while a crowdfunding campaign is on. I was blessed with a very reliable team who took care of literally EVERYTHING else while I was full-time on crowdfunding.
There are days when you don't want to get out of the bed, rehearsing the same cassette. On some days, I just didn't want to "ask" anymore. Show up anyway.
Be prepared to take “No” from the most unexpected people.
There will be several "ye toh chanda maang rahe ho". Sense it, smile at the person, get away asap and focus on next person. You have very little time for any bullshit.
Eat healthy, sleep well. We lost 2 days because I fell very sick in the third week and couldn't work at all.
Be grateful and give back whenever you can.
Start working on 'next'. 5-10 lakhs will burn out in no time.
If your money isn't going to be used fully at once, re-invest. Interests earned will take care of additional costs.
Update us on the progress on Chaaipani?
We gave ourselves August and September to scale up our existing operations and business, while simultaneously working on the tech. We should be ready with our new platform by the end of September. We have shot one video already, and are working on its post-production. We've organized 4 events in different cities.
We are taking our time with rewards because we want to give our best shot at it at an affordable cost. We should be dispatching them by September end.
What's next on your plate?
1. We are constantly brainstorming on different ways to make our tech better at an affordable cost.
2. Engaging people offline through events. There is a big news on way on this front.
3. Chaaipani in Hindi.
4. Scaling up our operations in Pakistan. This has been a little difficult because of the issues between two countries, but we are tiptoeing our way out.
Check out their campaign HERE.