3 Reasons Every Online Store Should be Experimenting with Crowdfunding

What does Donald Trump and this ridiculous hat have to do with e-commerce, crowdfunding, and marketing? Read on… read on.

What does Donald Trump and this ridiculous hat have to do with e-commerce, crowdfunding, and marketing? Read on… read on.

This post was a long time coming. I have been at Tilt for about a year and a half now and have learned some things about crowdfunding, and the new commerce. I was also the CTO of an e-commerce store for a while so I know a thing or two about building and growing e-commerce platforms.

What follows are 3 easy ideas that anyone using Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce,, or something custom can use to drive growth and sales for their e-commence business.

Tilt is a bite-sized crowdfunding app that lets you collect money with your group for free. You can also use Tilt to sell something to your audience. I won’t sell you on Tilt, CNBC did that for me. What I will sell you on, is why you, an online store owner / growth person, should be using Tilt today to make more money online (and get a free follow backlink).

Reason #1: Experiment With New Products

tldr: Grab a graphic designer and create a tilt in 5 minutes to test a new product with an engaged segment of your customer base.

Let’s say you are Indochino, and you sell these amazing tailored suits online. You branch out into selling shirts, obviously. That’s just good business. Then you sell tie clips, cufflinks, belts… everything that goes with a custom tailored suit. But what about shoes?

There must have been someone on the growth / marketing team who said something like: “Hey, what if we sold shoes?”

To which someone would say: “That’s a great idea, but shoes are really expensive to manufacture. We don’t have good shoe people, heck, we don’t even know if our customers would buy shoes!”

Now you are clever, so you say “What if I can show that people will buy shoes. How many would I need to sell?”

She leans back in her chair and says: “50. If you can sell 50 pairs of shoes, I will consider taking Indochino into the shoe business.”

Hot dog! You are on your way.

What’s the fastest way to sell 50 shoes? You can’t add them to your site, that would look weird. You can’t launch a new brand around shoes… well you could but that’s a lot of work… enter Tilt.

Step 1: Grab a graphic designer and whip up a graphic that’s 660px x 370px, create an account and a tilt. In 5 minutes you will get something like this:

Step 2: Segment your list and send this to your users who buy all the shirts, all the tie clips, all the pants, all the things! Send it to your power users.

Step 3: See what happens.

There is no formula for what comes next. You will just know. If you sell 10 shoes, and get crickets for comments, probably not a good business to be in.

If your email has a 20% conversion rate and you sell 87 pairs of shoes… start calling the cobblers!

This is where the bite-sized crowdfunding mechanics of Tilt really shines. You will only go into the shoe business if there is demand for it. This is similar to Kickstarter or Indiegogo but the difference is it took you 15 minutes. What’s more, with Tilt, you get a list of people you can re-sell too using a simple Push to Consumer model, more on that in Chapter 3.

Reason #2: Limited Runs

tldr: Use the principles of scarcity and FOMO to sell variations of existing and popular products.

It’s easier to sell to an existing customer than it is to find a new one. Starbucks knows this well and floods our mouths with holiday inspired concoctions every chance they get. Don’t you love their new cups by the way… so stark. You can do the same! You can be Starbucks, just don’t tell Howard.

Let’s say you are Startup Vitamins. They make some of the best motivation posters that money can buy. Pretend you are their growth person and would love to affect change in your numbers for November. The holiday season is right around the corner, but you don’t have anything in the pipeline. No worries, I got you.

Step 1: Find an item that is selling really well. Let’s say it’s this amazing PG poster.

Step 2: Contact PG and see if he will sign 100 of them, or do some kind of webinar / Q&A for the people that buy them in time for the holidays. Approach Paul with a win-win in mind. Think about what could help him reach his goals, and what could help you reach your goals. Then come up with a creative solution. If you don’t know what his goals are… ask him.

Step 3: Create a Tilt based on the offer you and Paul hammer out.

Step 4: Send an email to everyone that bought that poster + a similar poster. Don’t email everyone on your list. Keep the list big enough to get some traction (50+) but small enough to make it exclusive (<500).

Your messaging should be: “Checkout this amazing limited time offer” or “Get this exclusive PG merch, we are only selling 100 of these”

If you need some Inspiration go check out SumoMe’s marketing. Noah knows how to do this well.

Step 5: Watch it fly off the digital shelves… or not! That’s the beauty of this. If you have created value then you will reap the rewards, if not, well then go back to Marketing 101. It’s all about adding value.

Tilt is a FOMO inducing product, perfect for these time limited or quantity limited runs.

Reason #3: Auto-magic distribution

tldr: Tilt sends a push notifications to all your followers when you launch a new product

I will put this picture into context in a minute, but first let me ask you a question.

Have you ever heard of Medium the blogging platform?

I hope so, because you are using it right now.

Why is Medium becoming so popular? Why is it growing? I think a big part is the distribution you gain as a writer.

Here is how blogging normally works:

  1. Write a post
  2. Feel like a fraud
  3. Hope that people see it
  4. Post to social
  5. Hope that people see it
  6. Run some ads
  7. Hope that people see it
  8. Setup RSS
  9. Only tech geeks use RSS
  10. Send an email to your list
  11. Hope that people see it

Here’s how publishing on Medium works:

  1. Write post
  2. Hit Publish
  3. Feel like a fraud
  4. All your friends get a push notification to go read it
  5. Hopefully a friend recommends it
  6. Then all of their friends see it
  7. On Friday, an email digest goes out that will include your post
  8. More people will see it.

Medium has solved the distribution problem for bloggers, or is trying to solve it.

Tilt is the Medium of crowdfunding.

Tilt solves distribution for brands.

Every time someone contributes to one of your tilts, you gain them as a follower. When you launch your next sale or product, all of your followers get notified via push notification.

A niche college brand like Old Row, has mastered this on Tilt and sells out of products in hours. Old Row has been growing their following on Tilt for over 2 years and their hard work has paid off. Old Row has over 10,000 tilt followers!

This means they have 10,000 customers, with active credit cards, waiting for their next product. It’s magical.

So back to Trump and his rope hat. During one of Trump’s campaign visits he sported a hat that said “Make America Great Again”

Old Row saw this as an opportunity. They quickly ball parked the costs, created a tilt and sold 200 hats in 20 minutes! All thanks to that built in distribution network.

Love or hate Trump (Canadians like me think the whole thing is hilarious) but you can’t argue with those results! Try doing that on Shopify, or Magento, or WooCommerce, or Zen Cart, or Etsy, or your own shop.

Tilt followers didn’t just like something, or share something… they gave you hard earned money. That’s a powerful social signal and something worth cultivating.


So there you have it, 3 simple reasons why you (an online store) should be on Tilt. There are dozens more but these are my favs. If you need ideas or help you can reach me at @kentf.

Before you call, here are some frequently asked questions that I often get:

How much does it cost?

Collecting is Free. Selling something will cost you 5%.

What’s the difference between collecting and selling something?

Collecting is like an online hat that you pass around.

Sell Something gives you more e-commerce options:

  • Limiting the quantity
  • Shipping options
  • Variations: Size, Color etc.

Why don’t I just do this on my own site? Why use a 3rd party?

Because you are focused on selling things you know will sell on your site. Why confuse customers with this kind of experimentation? If the experiment works then you will roll it into your store, if not, well then move onto the next one.

Can you help me source an item?

Of course, I will even negotiate the best price for you but only if you plan on selling more than 1,000 items.

Can I white label this?

Yes, it’s called Tilt Open and some amazing products like Lily, Navdy, Soylent, and many more launched using that platform.

The follower thing is cool, but doesn’t that only help for my 2nd tilt?

Yup, you got it. So let’s make a plan for your first 3 tilts.

Do you have a Windows Phone App?