In late 2009, I was working on BlueRize with my friend Oleg Mokhov when we began discussing the topic of printing T-Shirts and hats to represent our cause. The problem was that we didn’t have enough cash to test new designs, and while we were aware of Kickstarter, we weren’t sure we wanted to divert our resources on a huge crowdfunding campaign.
Instead, we thought we’d search for a plugin so that we could raise money slowly, in our own fashion. We looked, found nothing, and eventually forgot about the idea.
Our First Crowdfunding Attempt
Several months later, Shawn and I started working on a variety of iOS app concepts, one of which was DJ’s vs Ninjas, an idea that Oleg had mentioned in one of our frequent phone conversations. The more I talked with Shawn about the idea, the more he wanted to do it, the only problem being that once again, we lacked the resources to make it happen. We’d need a bigger team, and a bit of runway to focus on development.
Once again the topic of crowdfunding came up, and once again we thought of Kickstarter. This time we went ahead and submitted a proposal, got accepted, and began to craft our campaign.
As we started brainstorming funding levels, rewards, and the amount of financing we needed to secure, we realized that Kickstarter might not be the best fit for what we wanted to do.
They wanted us to craft our campaign in a very specific manner, often in contrast to our approach. Additionally, the more we researched the difficulty of running a successful campaign on Kickstarter (we were hoping to raise 50-80k), the more we realized that a long-term approach might suit us better.
So in the end, we decided to abandon our Kickstarter campaign and try to find an alternative solution.
Solving Our Own Problems
By now, we thought for sure that a crowdfunding plugin for WordPress would have been created, but once again came back empty handed.
Stymied by our search for a perfect crowdfunding solution, we decided to do what most entrepreneurs do when they need a tool that doesn’t exist – we decided to build it ourselves.
IgnitionDeck started as a simple prototype, just a widget, and nothing more. In fact, we didn’t have a name for it at first – working title ‘Pre-Order Widget.’
But as we talked to friends about our new project, we learned that most people loved the idea. Many started suggesting features we hadn’t thought of, and others wanted to be notified as soon as we had something ready to test.
At that point we realized that this wasn’t just our tool, but one that would be useful for any entrepreneur looking to raise money.
Soon we added new features like Paypal integration. Then it was email, then social, until eventually IgnitionDeck had evolved into our full-time passion project.
8 months later, after spending far more time and energy than we expected, we launched a small closed beta, followed by an open beta in October of 2011.
Today, as we announce our most recent beta, we’ve released 9 versions, spent hundreds of hours of design and development time, and have earned nearly 300 supporters.
While we’re just getting started, we’re very proud of how far this project has come, and excited by its potential. We can’t wait to share our vision with the world.