Getting through the Trough and closer to the Edge, Together

When we announced the Ubuntu Edge crowd-funding campaign a week ago, we had one hell of a good first day.  We broke records left and right, we sold out of the first round of perks in half the time we expected, and we put the campaign well above the red line we needed to reach our goal.  Our second day was also amazing, and when we opened up a new round of perks at a heavy discount the third day we got another big boost.

But as exciting and record-breaking as that first week was, we couldn’t escape the inevitable slowdown that the Kickstarter folks call “the trough“.  Our funding didn’t stop, you guys never stopped, but it certainly slowed way down from it’s peak.  We’ve now entered a period of the crowd-funding cycle where keeping momentum going is the most important thing. How well we do that will determine whether or not we’re close enough to our goal for the typical end-of-cycle peak to push us over the edge.

And this is where we need our community more than ever, not for your money but for your ideas and your passion.  If you haven’t contributed to the campaign yet, what can we offer that would make it worthwhile for you?  If your friends haven’t contributed yet, what would it take to make them interested?  We want to know what perks to offer to help drive us through the trough and closer to the Edge.

Our Options

So here’s what we have to work with.  We need to raise about $24 million by the end of August 21st.  That’s a lot, but if we break it down by orders of magnitude we get the following combinations:

  • 1,000,000 people giving $24 each
  • 100,000 people giving $240 each
  • 10,000 people giving $2,400 each
  • 1,000 people giving $24,000 each

Now finding ways to get people to contribute $24 are easy, but a million people is a lot of people.  1,000 or even 10,000 people isn’t that many, but finding things that they’ll part with $2,400 for is challenge, even more so for $24,000.

That leaves us with one order of magnitude that I think makes sense. 100,000 people is a lot, but not unreasonable.  Previously large crowd-funding campaigns have reached 90,000 contributors, while raising only a fraction of what we’re trying for, so that many people is an attainable goal.  Plus $240, while more than an impulse purchase, still isn’t an unreasonable amount for a lot of people to part with, especially if we’re giving them something of similar real value in return.

Now it doesn’t have to be exactly $240, but think of perk ideas that would be around this level, something less than the cost of a phone, but more than the Founder levels.

Our Limits

Now, for the limitations we have.  I know everybody wants to see $600 phones again, and that would certainly be an easy way to boost the campaign.  But the manufacturing estimate we have is that $32 million will build only 40,000 phones.  That’s $800 per phone.  That’s something we can’t get away from.  Whatever we offer as perks, we have to average at least $800 per phone.  We were able to offer perks for less than that because we projected the other perk levels to help make up the difference.  So if you’re going to suggest a lower-priced phone perk, you’re going to have to offer some way to make up the difference.

You also need to consider the cost of offering the perk, as a $50 t-shirt doesn’t actually net $50 once you take out the cost of the shirt itself, so we can’t offer $240 worth of merchandise in exchange for a $240 contribution. But you could probably offer something that costs $20 to make in exchange for a $240 contribution.

Our Challenge

So there’s the challenge for you guys.  I’ve been thinking of this for over a week now, and have offered my ideas to those managing the campaign.  Often they pointed out some flaw in my reasoning or estimates, but some ideas they liked and might try to offer.  I can’t promise that your ideas will be offered, but I can promise to put them in front of the people making those decisions, and they are interested in hearing from you.

Now, rather than trying to cultivate your ideas here on my blog, because comments are a terrible place for something like that, I’ve created a Reddit thread for you.  Post your ideas there as comments, upvote the ones you think are good, downvote the ones you don’t think are possible, leave comments and suggestions to help refine the ideas.  I will let those running the campaign know about the thread, and I will also be taking the most popular (and possible) ideas and emailing them to the decision makers directly.

We have a long way to go to reach $32 million, but it’s still within our reach.  With your ideas, and your help, we will make it to the Edge.


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20 Responses to Getting through the Trough and closer to the Edge, Together

  1. ss says:

    How about lottery for a phone for a low level of contribution?

    • Michael Hall says:

      Put it in the Reddit thread please so others can vote and comment on the idea

    • Michael Hall says:

      That was suggested on the Reddit thread, but there were concerns that it would violate gambling laws in a lot of countries

  2. Israel says:

    I’m posting this here because it isn’t a perk suggestion.
    The Ubuntu Software Centre is the perfect place to put up an August add for the Ubuntu Edge. You run adds for new software, why not revolutionary hardware. This way all the people who don’t read GNU/Linux news but use Ubuntu, will have an opportunity to see the campaign.

  3. nn says:

    i think the additional perk doesnt need to get 32M.
    we can sell the phones easily at ~ $695, so we only need additional ~ $105 per phone.
    totally, $105 x 40,000 phones = 4,2M

  4. Edward Hall says:

    Hi Michael,

    Just to let you know I’ve added a link to the Reddit feed on the wizzardSS Edge website.

    Keep up the good work!


  5. Ben says:

    HI Michael,

    I see very less number of participants in the Reddit thread… Could you please put this Reddit thread link in the Indiegogo campaign comments section..

  6. Oren says:

    Sorry for posting here. My comment isn’t exactly a perk suggestion and seemed unfitting to the Reddit discussion.

    My suggestion is “Find your story’s lead, than pound it and pound it again…”
    My biggest worry about the whole campaign is that you guys are “not telling the story right”. If you have read the book “Made to Stick” you might know what I mean.
    The main “landing” page on Indiegogo conveys a complex, lengthy message. There’s no clear “lead” or simple message about what makes this product unique.
    Why should someone pay so much money for a phone that doesn’t exist yet? They need a leading reason. A single thought that would stick in their minds. A “a ha” moment…
    To me, that reason is “A PC in your pocket”. I think the idea of having a single, powerfull computing device that serves all or most of your computing and communication needs and is carried around in your pocket would resonate with a lot of people and would probably have a lot of them jumping on board. This is not just another high-end smartphone, this is a game-changer. I don’t think this message is currently clear or highlighted enough.

    You might think your “lead” is something else. Whatever you decide uppon is fine, as long as you make sure you have a simple, catchy idea and that you always make sure to get that idea across.

    So what I would suggest is:
    1. change the video to make sure you open with the lead and that you get this message across.
    2. before and above all the text, bullet points and anouncements, have a short text portraying that lead in a clear, short sentance or two.
    3. Try to reach some more media outlets and then, whenever you speak to them, make sure you get the lead across. The more we repeat it, the better the chances people will get it.

    I really hope you guys will make it. I like Ubuntu and have been using it for years. I also really like the “PC in my pocket” idea. Although i’m not entirely sure a single device could serve all my needs, it makes so much sense to me that I’d really like to try…

    • manny says:

      Actually the idea seems clear, specially after they added the comparison table.

      However the current perks and prices is what keeps the broader market from contributing.

      and they need to change things quick. The interest and moral is very low.

      This will be a make it or break it week. This campaign is losing 1.5 M per day, soon it will reach the abyss.

  7. manny says:


    Was wondering what you guys think of Miracast/DLNA. Its cheap, new and can boost interest:

    “Rockchip shows sub-$10 Miracast/DLNA HDMI Dongle for all Android devices”:

    Could be included in some perks.

    And retailers. Have you guys thought about offering perks for retailers/re-sellers to get them on board?

  8. menelic says:

    Hi, thanks for this article and for the reddit thread – great idea to enable a more structured debate! It would be great if you could revisit the thread and answer the most popular, most prominent and most creative suggestions, or ammend this article with some reactions. Unquestionably most popular is the suggestion to provide early Ubuntu for android access as a perk. This would undoubtedly spur pledges and be easy for Canonical to do, its software so it does not have any shipping cost. Just provide AOSP with U4A for a range of popular devices such as Nexus and one or two Samsungs of possible. Personally, I d also be very much interested to use U4A on a tablet, as they have enough horsepower these days…but there are other good suggestions there. You’ve asked for input, so it d be only fair if you could provide some more feedback!

  9. David says:

    How about an ‘option’ approach:

    Perk would be something about $200-250 (as proposed).

    In May 2014 people who chose this perk have the option to a) get their money back or b) add another $700 to actually get an Edge. Devices of those who have their money refunded are offered outside the crowdfunding campaign at $1,000+.

    So the price of an Edge would be as follows:

    $600-800: pre-funded through this campaign
    $900: partially pre-funded with option to buy it when it’s actually
    $1,000: very limited stock of ‘left-over’ devices available for instant-buy in May 2014

    This is a win for Ubuntu if they come up with a device that at least fulfills expectations since people will be happy to pay even more than $ 800 per device given its greatness. Even if there were some users who opt to get their money back ‘their’ phones would be sold in no time (at a higher price). If all/most of the options are exercised this would result in more than 40k phones but I guess Ubuntu wouldn’t mind producing them if people pay > $800 each. Risk: If the Edge disappoints Ubuntu might end up paying back lots of $250-perks resulting in a funding total less than 32M.

    This is also a win for contributors who are hesitant spending $800 given the vague specs and the time span since their risk is very low, the deposit is just one third of the full price and they still have the possibility to get an Edge when it comes out (at a slightly higher price though).

    Feel free to adjust all of the numbers mentioned, they’re just meant to outline the idea. Essentially this approach is increasing the variance of the outcome shifting the risk more towards Ubuntu. Given the current funding situation in my opinion it’s definitely worth a try (and I for myself would definitely add an option to my already funded Edge).

    • David says:

      Just found the Reddit and posted a condensed version there as well. Feel free to delete my comment here.

  10. Henry Green says:

    Design a dock, keyboard and mouse or just combine them into one object which will allow control of the main desktop OS .
    A large number of people who have already bought the Edge will most likely buy one of these and with Ubuntu for Android making this compatible with other devices like the Nexus 4 you will get funding from those people aswell.
    The price will be right on as having high quality components for this device will make it worth it.
    $240 for a dock, keyboard and mouse or a combo of these makes sense to me at least.

  11. manny says:


    1 important question:

    Why does the EDGE need 4gb ram when the cpu is going to be 32bit?

    Isn’t this just added costs? Can’t they leave the 4gb for the EDGE2 of something like that ?

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