Digital Living

Dissecting Pakistan’s Most Successful Kickstarter Campaign

Gone are the days when raising money could only be done in one’s neighborhood, a finite location with a limited impact. Nowadays, thanks to globalization, technology, and the power of a good story, one of the best – and perhaps fairest – fundraising techniques of all time is possible. Of course, I’m talking about crowdfunding.

The Platform

While there more than one crowdfunding platform exists, Kickstarter is the most prominent. It’s estimated that this US-based platform has helped raise over 1 billion pledges toward creative projects since its inception in 2009.

The Startup

Markhor is an online store for artisanal handcrafted men’s shoes. The Pakistani entrepreneurs that founded the company, Waqas Ali and Sidra Qasim, decided to try a kickstarter campaign to ramp up funding. The target was set to $15,000, or about 1,520,000 rupees – a reasonably ambitious goal. This was back in September of 2014.

Not only did the Markhor shoe enthusiasts reach that target goal, but they raised 715% of it. Within the first day of the campaign, thousands of dollars had already been donated.

It’s difficult to name all the precise ingredients needed for a perfect crowdfunding campaign. Dozens of factors come into play, like demand for the product, the presentation of the “ask,” the amount of social media exposure, the ability of the company to present their product as valuable and necessary – and likely many more factors. Some will tell you it’s the level of team involvement that matters most. Regardless of opinions, one thing definitely matters most: the amount of buzz you can manage to generate around your campaign. The online virility of a campaign can make all the difference.

So what did Markhor do right? What allowed them to run the most successful crowdfunding campaign ever to come out of Pakistan? It’s difficult to say for sure, but we can certainly speculate based on a few key factors.

The Presentation

Markhor presents their products in a particular way. They are advertised as classy, indigenous, and modern, all of which could appeal to Markhor’s target market, “today’s gentleman.” It gives the product different facets while still maintaining a general consistency.

The genius behind this presentation is that it ticks several buttons, giving the shoes a well-rounded presentation that could appeal to different types of men. They’re indigenous, thus locals will have no problem supporting high quality, handcrafted shoes from their home country. They’re modern, which could make them appeal to younger professionals and those that wish to keep up with trends. And lastly, Markhor makes a point to present the product as refined, highly detailed, and painstakingly crafted by hand – so the upper-tier cost is justified.

kickstarter campaign pakistan

The Story

Any marketing/branding expert in the world will tell you that your story is everything. Get your story right, and customers will care, respect you, and become a loyal customer. Of course, the story must be honest as well as original. Customers can generally see through a facade of shallow marketing techniques. Markhor executes their story smoothly, particularly on their website.

They cite ancient Pakistani regions, where handcrafting was a skill passed down to each new generation. However, they remind potential customers that this precious art has been lost in modern times. Thus the Markhor founders seek to rekindle that tradition, and who better to do it than two native village people? In this way, Markhor’s story creates nostalgia and maybe a bit of patriotism. After drumming up those feelings, they immediately provide a way for customers to bring back the past – through purchasing some of their beautifully handcrafted shoes. Problem stated, solution stated.

The founders also mention the importance of community, keeping craftsman at work, and providing better lives for workers and their families. They aim to create a personal, down-to-earth connection with customers. Thus their story ticks off two of the most important marketing checkboxes: honesty and originality. No phony marketing gimmicks here.

Crowdfunding provides a unique element that could appeal to Pakistanis and other nations in the Middle East – namely, those who are just starting out with little resources. Creating a kickstarter or similar campaign is incredibly low cost (often free to create). All you need is an internet connection, a solid idea, and a strategic plan to implement it. With more and more startups becoming involved in crowdfunding, it’s likely this trend will continue to develop in Pakistan. Zoomaal, the Middle East’s first crowdfunding platform, is perfect evidence of just that.

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