Four Business Lessons to Learn from the Successful Potato Salad Kickstarter Project

Larry Alton

July 2014 was a weird month for Kickstarter, the online crowdsourcing platform that thousands of entrepreneurs have used to gain funding and marketing traction. The Kickstarter team was stunned to discover that an Ohio-based man with the moniker "Zack Danger Brown" had posted a Potato Salad project with the extremely modest goal of $10. Over the span of a month, the campaign went viral, and Zack wound up with $55,492 and over 6,900 backers. And what was he offering, exactly? Well, Zack requested the $10 of funding to make potato salad. The simple project description reads, "I'm making potato salad. Basically I'm just making potato salad. I haven't decided what kind yet." Zack plans to donate the funds to aid the homeless in Ohio.

Are you baffled by the success of this potato salad project? Here are four lessons we can take away from Zack's project.

You Can Start Small

Sometimes, the simplest business plans are the most successful. Instead of trying to raise funding for a large project with multiple departments and moving parts, narrow your needs down to something immediate. Funders on crowdsource platforms want to know exactly where their funds are going. If you make the pitch, risks, and challenges too complex to grasp, then you could be setting yourself up for failure.

Set Yourself Apart

Part of the reason why Zack's campaign was so successful is because his project is so incredibly absurd. While most of us would just wander to the grocery store in search of ingredients, or even just purchase the salad outright, Zack dedicated an entire Kickstarter campaign to the project. Keep in mind, this is the same funding platform used for high-profile projects including Oculus Rift, Reading Rainbow, and Penny Arcade. However, the potato salad project was able to gain more views than any of these Kickstarter pages due to the sheer novelty of the project. It was an instant viral hit.

Set Realistic Goals

You don't have to promise the moon and stars to your backers. Just provide them with the recognition and incentives that you can actually deliver. For example, those who pledged $1 would have their name said aloud while Zack made the potato salad. And those who donated a whopping $110 will receive a book, shirt, a name mention, and a small bite of potato salad.

Keep Your Funders Updated

Zack's initial Kickstarter page was sparse on details. But as funds begin to roll in from 74 different countries, he began to fill the page with updates. He began to add all new donor incentives. After receiving a total of $1,200, Zach promised to upload a thank you video. He began posting news coverage from Fox News and uploading parody videos about the creation of potato salad. This continued fan service quickly shot the potato salad Kickstarter into astronomical page views and funding peaks.

This unusual and whimsical Kickstarter is a great reminder of how a little creativity can go a long way. Surely, Zack didn't set out to earn over $55,000 with his modest project. He probably just wanted to make a few people chuckle. Businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs can learn quite a bit from his experiment.