So… what makes Kickstarter campaigns go from virality to viability, anyway?

Despite a viral debut in 2017, the male jumpsuit startup RompHim went out of business last week after failing to convert viral fame into a viable business.

RompHim, the men’s one-piece jumpsuit startup that went viral in 2017 after a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign, announced plans to shut down last week.

So… what makes Kickstarter campaigns go from virality to viability, anyway?

Although some other Kickstarter products — like Peloton and PopSocket — managed to become full-fledged businesses, RompHim’s bust shows viral fame doesn’t always make a good long-term marketing strategy.

Everything started with plenty of romp and circumstance

After launching in May of 2017, RompHim sold out of its inventory — and raised $353k of its goal $10k — in less than a week.

In the days following their debut, the RompHim appeared in Vogue, Elle, GQ, Esquire, The Washington Post, CNN, and Time.

But RompHim had a thigh too close to the sun

After starting RompHim in business school, the company’s 4 co-founders ran the company as a side hustle. But despite their early success, they encountered early challenges.

RompHim shut down their funding period 3 weeks early to avoid imminent supply-chain issues.

Then the company started showing signs of strain. In 2019, its social posts slowed and it slashed the price of its products.

Why didn’t RompHim succeed?

RompHim’s co-founders didn’t respond to The Hustle’s requests for comment.

But Roy Morejon, a crowdfunding consultant who has helped 68 inventors raise $1m+ on Kickstarter through his agency Enventys Partners, explained to The Hustle that many viral Kickstarters are “one-hit wonders.”

Morejon said viral launches can help make an early splash, but usually can’t sustain long-term business.

“I don’t think there are any [Kickstarter] products that have ever launched and then ‘set it and forget it,’” Morejon explained. “You have to put a ton of marketing effort behind products to make them six-figure projects.”

So, how do you avoid becoming a one hit wonder? 

Morejon suggests Kickstarters keen on launching a full business should:

  • Confirm that real-live customers actually want their product.
  • Map out future product lines.
  • Make production plans for a 2x (or 10x) demand increase.

Of course, even with all the i’s dotted and the t’s crossed, there are no guarantees.

“Some stuff hits, some stuff doesn’t,” Morejon said. “But it does take a ton of marketing to make these things uber-successful.”

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