Wuxia the Fox: A Successful Crowdfunding Campaign Despite a Rocky Beginning

Concerned about hyperconnectivity and its effect on children, SAGA WORLD’s Jonathan Bélisle decided to reinvent reading time by transporting the child to a magical world. A crowdfunding campaign was organized to help Wuxia the Fox see the light of day. It was an experience that the creator would not soon forget.

  • Project Name: Wuxia the Fox
  • Type of Production/Project: Digital media (transmedia)
  • Funding Period: April 2 to May 2, 2014 (30 days)
  • Financing Target: $64,000
  • Funds Raised: $64,982 (101% of target)
  • Number of Contributors: 318
  • Average Contribution: $204

Finding the best crowdfunding platform

Wuxia the Fox was only at the preliminary stage of development during the Kickstarter financing campaign. Jonathan believes that this hindered the process. Unlike Indiegogo, he believes that Kickstarter donors are not used to funding arts projects or projects still in the concept phase.

“On Kickstarter, people are looking for opportunities to pre-order tangible products. They’re looking for projects at the prototype stage.”

The campaign did make it possible to finance the initial stages of concept development (script, illustrations, film, interactive scenes and music). But to get there, the creator had to redouble his efforts to make the project stand out from a rather unfavourable position in a large pool of competing offers.

The video presentation: the ultimate pitch

For the creator of Wuxia the Fox, the video presentation is at the heart of any successful crowdfunding strategy. The video must introduce the team the campaign will finance in a way that is clear, concise and totally engaging. “I was told that if we wanted to raise $40 million, for example, I’d have to invest $50,000 in a video. Our Wuxia video cost in the area of $10,000. It’s an essential investment no matter how you look at it. The video must make a solid case for our objectives and our creative process while building a crowd movement to Let’s make it happen together!”

Jonathan emphasizes the key role of video in creating a group movement, the basic principle of crowdfunding: “In crowdfunding there’s crowd and there’s funding but I think crowd is even more important than funding.”

The campaign: a frantic sprint

For the duration of the campaign, Jonathan was overwhelmed by a crush of emails into the wee hours of the morning. “I was promoting the campaign, handling content production and managing the community in real time...I hardly ever slept. At the end I was totally wiped!”

He had to continually answer questions, get back to his contacts again and again, and deal with any setbacks from people in his personal and professional networks. It’s a tough lesson in humility one must learn to accept very early on.

Jonathan says he will have a detailed plan and strategy in place before his next campaign is even launched. This is also advice he gives to anyone wishing to jump on the crowdfunding bandwagon: “It takes a lot more than just sharing news about your project on social media! You have to get a real conversation going, a believable story, and a rich variety of content to share for the 30 or 60 days of your campaign.”

What’s his game plan for the next campaign? “I’ll prepare my content well in advance and take time off from my regular work so I can dedicate myself 100% for the full course of the campaign.”

Building a buzz…yes, you can!

At the half-way point in the campaign, Wuxia the Fox had not even reached 40% of its target. According to Jonathan, if your campaign hasn’t reached 50% of its funding goal after the first five days, the chances of reaching your target drop considerably. “People start to believe you won’t succeed, and no one wants in on a project that fails in the funding department.”

When you get a major flow of funding coming in quickly you get traction that pulls in even more people champing at the bit to join the community. You have to start working on creating this ripple effect well before you launch the campaign: “All your ambassadors have to be mobilized before you launch and everything has to be in place for you to reach your goal as quickly as possible.”

After ten days, the creator of Wuxia the Fox started feeling the fatigue. The sustained solicitation of his network of contacts sometimes made him feel like he was harassing his own community. And to top it off, the money invested in advertising on social media did not generate the expected results.

Finding himself short on resources, Wuxia’s creator got even more creative by giving donors the opportunity to become co-producers of the project for a contribution of $6,000. The strategy worked with broadcaster TFO joining the list of co-producers. TFO’s participation also produced enough traction to attract the new donors necessary for the campaign to finally reach its fundraising goal.

Even once the campaign was over and the funding goal achieved, the work was far from complete for the creator. Until the official launch of the tablet app, Jonathan committed himself to sending monthly reports to all donors, including any technical difficulties encountered by the team and any delays in production, as well as creative breakthroughs and exciting new discoveries. It’s the kind of creative journal he makes a point of sharing with all donors.

Wuxia the Fox is a transmedia reading ecosystem. The colossal production work it required was made possible mainly thanks to the support of a donor community that Jonathan has become a full-fledged member of. You'll see him frequently sharing about funded projects he believes in on social media. Because at the end of the day, he believes it’s really all about cutting out as many intermediaries as possible between ideas and people.

Anne-Marie Archambault
Anne-Marie Archambault is the Strategy and Content Experience Director at Akufen. Versatile and centred on the user experience, she considers herself as the bridge between content and container, between strategy and emotion. She has worked as a freelancer for many years in television and digital, working in creative teams in experimental and interactive. Anne-Marie is fascinated by the process of creation, the clashing worlds and the ideas that come to life.
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