Business

How The Photo Bus of Kansas City Kicked Off to a Good Start

Everyone loves a photo booth, and Cate Crandell and John Deprisco, creators of The Photo Bus Kansas City are making them a lot more fun.

Story by Nicolette Martin

We caught up with Cate and John at Maker Faire Kansas City to discuss their success as a local business that looked to Kickstarter for a little help.

KCB: How did the idea for the photo bus come up?

Cate: John started the photo bus to market his wedding photography business. His first event was in 2012, but he came up with the idea in 2011. It took time to find the right bus, and then he found it and started working.

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KCB: What led to the Kickstarter campaign?

Cate: I came up with the idea for running the Kickstarter campaign because we needed a little help to do the maintenance. Because we do this full time, we have a lot of expenses that all of our other events that we book pay for. It was like, what can we do to get people involved who love the bus, but would never book the bus necessarily, or just want to support us in a way that isn’t through booking?

So I thought, let’s just try Kickstarter. [John] had a really hard time with it because up until that time, he had funded everything by himself. He doesn’t like to owe people money. It took me about eight months to convince him that we should do it. In that time, I kept researching, then it was about six more months of planning before we launched.

 

KCB: Why did you choose Kickstarter over other crowdfunding options?

Cate: A lot of research showed it’s all about the marketing. The thing I really liked about Kickstarter vs. something like Indiegogo was the fact that it’s all or nothing. And that is all they do, whereas [with] Indiegogo, people don’t know that it’s all or nothing. So even if we were to select that option, there’s still no pressure because people don’t really think about it. So that was the main reason for choosing Kickstarter. The fact that it’s well known helped a little bit, but that wasn’t the main goal.

 

KCB: How difficult was it to reach your goal?

Cate: I think we hit our goal about halfway in, and that was kind of a last-minute thing. What we really wanted was $15,000, so we had initially set our campaign to that. [At the] very last minute, we met with someone who advised us, and he said, “You know, that’s a little bit high. If you guys are able to lower it to $10,000, you’ll hopefully get more, which would be great because the faster you hit your goal, then you’ll show up on the popular list.” We were like, “Oh. $10,000 is our bare minimum, and the rest is just a stretch.’”

KCB: Is there any advice you would give other KC entrepreneurs who are trying to launch a Kickstarter campaign?

Cate: Research, research, research. I’ve seen great campaigns fail. I’ve seen terrible campaigns have success. People think that it’s just free-for-all money, like, if you put it up there people will come.

We even had a copycat guy who had reached out to us during our campaign. He was like, “Oh, I wanted to launch a Kickstarter for mine.” So he completely mimicked everything we did, which we knew he was going to do. It was fine; he raised $281. He didn’t push it; he didn’t have a following; he didn’t market it.

That’s exactly what I tell everyone: Build your following. The day before, we did a pre-launch, and that helped a lot. I encourage anybody to do that. Just don’t give up. Send emails, annoy people—they know you’re going to do it, and they know it’ll be over in 30 days.

For more information on The Photo Bus Kansas City or to rent for an event, visit thephotobuskc.com.