06/16/2015 02:43 pm ET Updated Jun 14, 2016

Lyft Starter, the MagBelt and What I Learned in My First Week on KickStarter


Last fall in Denver, Kyle, a friend of mine from college grabbed a Lyft ride. Kyle, looked down at the app on his phone, his driver was a guy named Devin. Like most Lyft rides, the driver/passenger relationship is similar to the airplane friend experience. Travel together, exchange pleasantries for a few minutes, and then hop out never to see each other again.

On this ride, Devin told Kyle about how he invented a magnetic belt and was driving for Lyft to be able to get his company off the ground. When Kyle saw the magnetic belt he immediately said, "I want to xxxxing partner with you!" They exchanged numbers and Magzook Tightening Systems was born.


Kyle and Devin decided that they wanted to do a Kickstarter to fund the costs of starting their new business. If you go to Kickstarter's website it reads:

"Videos are not required to launch, but projects that have a video succeed at a much higher rate (50% vs. 30%), and tend to raise more money."

That's where I came in. I work as a Marketing Producer in Seattle and the guys flew me down to help shoot their video. At first, I just thought, "what is so special about this belt?" Then I saw it, and by the end of the trip I also said, "I want to xxxxing partner with you!"

Six months later we launched. You can see the Magbelt here. The strange meeting between passenger and driver goes to show you never know who you might start talking to. Who you might sit next down to and how that might change your life (or at least the next six months of your life).


The first week has gone great and we've already surpassed our goal. Not matter how much research we did, there were still things we didn't see coming:

  • Not Everyone Understands How Kickstarter Works: Kickstarter doesn't work like Amazon. You can't pick your items À la carte and the backers won't receive anything until the campaign ends. Many backers are new to Kickstarter. Let them know the process works and your expected timeline.
  • Answer Questions Quickly: No matter how much information you include. Your backers will always think of something that you haven't considered. Answer those questions in an update, Q&A, or public comment as timely as you possibly can.
  • Keep Things Simple: We first thought it would be great to offer the belt buckles as an individual item, but that ended up confusing our backers. Be clear when messaging your rewards.
  • After You Post, You Can't Change Even One Word On The Rewards: After a backer backed a certain reward, KickStarter will not let you edit it. This can be a problematic, so you want to get it right the first time and triple check your reward pricing before launch. KickStarter Support told us that our only option was to close out the reward. Message every single backer and ask them to select a new reward, then delete it. This is fine in theory, but getting even one person to select a new reward has been proven problematic.
  • You Will Not Get Any Backer Info Until The End Of The Campaign: For a Father's Day promotion we wanted to email the fathers of backers and let them know their kid had given them a great gift. However receiving backers email information won't be available until the campaign ended. Now we're finding that this isn't possible.
  • You Can Only Send Surveys Until The Campaign Has Ended: We wanted to get a head start on manufacturing and find what colors and preferences our backers had in mind. We soon realized that we'd have to send out multiple surveys to different backers in different rewards groups, and learned later through some friendly advice that the best practice is to wait until the campaign has fully ended.
  • Have Fun: I know that this one sounds like advice that your mom tells you in Little League, but it's true. People are rooting for you, talk with them, let them know what's going on. Be enthusiastic and positive when you're talking to your backers about your project, and remember that this is your chance to shine. Have a good time with it.