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Peak Design’s Crowdfunding Strategies That Raised Over $34 Million (2023)


Join us each Thursday for Shopify On Location in San Francisco, a special miniseries from the podcast team. For the new few months, tune in for invaluable lessons about how to innovate and when to take risks. Listen to Shopify On Location here:

When Peter Dering traveled through Asia on a four-month backpacking trip in 2010, he captured all the memorable, scenic moments with his camera. Along the way, he noticed how cumbersome the camera was to lug around.

“‘Wow, this hurts my neck, and I can’t be hands-free,’” Peter recalls thinking. “Almost every photographer who has ever put on a neck strap has experienced it, and [it] wasn’t being solved.” 

Peter developed the Capture Camera Clip System, a device that allows a camera to attach to a photographer’s body, hands-free. 

 A person in a blue t-shirt holding a backpack with one hand and taking out a camera with the other.
Peter Dering started Peak Design when he wanted to solve a common problem that photographers faced when traveling with a camera. Peak Design

That fateful trip didn’t just inspire Peter to start his company Peak Design. It instilled a spirit of independence that he carries throughout his business journey. 

“Those four months just showed me how much I wanted to be an independent person,” says Peter. “I was previously doing construction engineering for a big company. What’s more powerful than being a part of that for me was wanting to do something to show that I could make it on my own.” 

To validate his product’s marketability and fund the production, Peter ran a Kickstarter campaign. Since then, Peak Design has completed close to a dozen Kickstarter campaigns and raised more than $34 million, securing financial independence for his company.

In this episode of Shopify On Location, Peter shares his tips for running successful Kickstarter campaigns. 

1. Clearly explain how you’re solving a problem

Take a look on Kickstarter and you’ll notice that most campaigns are solution-centric. 

Peter’s successful campaigns for Peak Design are no different—problem solving is always at the core of his product creation process.

A person in a blue shirt holding an accessories bag from Peak Design while in front of their laptop.
The most crucial part of any crowdfunding campaign is to provide a solution to a problem.  Peak Design

“Number one, in my opinion, is the product,” Peter says. “What problem is it trying to solve?” 

Examine this problem from a variety of different angles. “So you look at the magnitude of the problem, people’s ability to perceive it, and then what is your solution?” Peter says. “How effectively does it attack that problem? Really, that’s what defines an addressable market.” 

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2. Adapt communication style to your audience 

Once you’ve dialed in your solution, it’s important to present it clearly. Peter’s campaigns over the years have adapted to the way that backers consume content.

Peter Dering showcasing a Cuff Camera strap during the podcast recording of Shopify Masters.
Peter showcased some of the features of a Cuff Camera strap during our in-person interview.  Peak Design

“Attention spans have changed so much in just the 12 years that have passed,” he says. “Never would I take a simple product like Capture [Camera Clip] and take [a long time] to explain it.” 

In the latest Kickstarter campaign for Peak Design’s Micro Clutch, there’s still a full-length instructional video on how the camera grip strap works, but there are also many new content formats. From GIFs to a 20-second vertical video to detailed diagrams, there’s a content type to match any backer’s preference. 

3.Establish production partnerships before a campaign launches

Many crowdfunding campaigns are made using prototypes; founders use their campaign to test their idea and then iterate on the product before seeking out production partners. Peter advises against this process.

“I really believe that if you’re using Kickstarter as a way to test out an idea, you are going to fail,” he says. “Even if your idea is good and you get traction, if you don’t have the manufacturing dialed in, it’s gonna take much longer than you think to bring that to market.” 

A camera on a tripod in front of an oceanscape.
Peter suggests that founders look for production partners before running a Kickstarter campaign. Peak Design

Instead, Peter recommends looking for production partners before you work on your campaign.

“The time to look for manufacturers is not during your Kickstarter campaign,” he says. “It’s months and most likely years before your Kickstarter campaign. You’ve gotta be there, ready to come with a working product relatively soon after that Kickstarter.” 

Kickstarter strategies are just one of the topics Peter shared on the podcast. To hear how he built his team and the impact of his latest venture, Climate Neutral, on sustainability, tune into his full interview on Shopify Masters.


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