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How To Make a $40,000 Potato Salad

by Kristine Santos

Most crowdfunds fail, but Zack Brown has raised over $40,000 (from a $10 goal) in just 8 days to make potato salad. I’m sure he’ll raise quite a bit more as the crowdfund continues. This is a shining example of a successful crowdfund, but it also highlights the importance of having a good network and having the right network for you. News outlets have done a lot to promote this campaign, but Zack’s network laid the foundation for this success story.

Find the Right People

The key to networking is the people. Zack’s Kickstarter has earned and gained so much attention because he had the right people in his network. It’s silly, but it’s something the people around him saw funny, supportable, and sharable. If all his friends despised potato salad and thought the crowdfund was completely ridiculous, he may have reached his $10 goal but not enough to make international news.

Different people can offer you different opportunities, but the most connected person in a room isn’t automatically the best person to speak with. Treating people like walking rolodexes is going to get you nowhere. It takes more effort to get to know people and their motivations, but it makes your network stronger because it’s now filled with people who share a common bond. It’s easier than ever to meet someone today, but just meeting them isn’t going to get you anywhere. You have to find someone with whom youcan build a relationship and then build that relationship.

Cultivate Relationships

The first potato salad donors were friends and family. It’s only after their involvement that anyone even noticed. That’s the case for every crowdfund that goes on to attract media attention. The entire campaign was tongue-in-cheek, but included the backers in the potato salad making experience. The basic reward is having your name said while he makes the salad and he’s going to have to say the names of over 5,000 individuals. As the crowdfund caught steam, he added stretch goals like a pizza party, hats, a live stream of making the potato salad, and just a big potato salad party.

Your network is only as strong as your relationships within it. Relationships drive the world. Even in business, your relationship with your customers is everything. You need to know your network well enough to keep them happy and engaged. Reciprocity is how networking works. You help someone with the expectation of them helping you at a later date. It’s not always a conscious thought, but that’s how relationships are strengthened. They require engagement. The give and take allows you to better know each other, but it also creates a actual base for your relationship to grow.

 The Payoff

No one expected a potato salad Kickstarter to make anything near $50,000, but it did. The last stretch goal was at $3,000 and they are trying to figure out what to do with the rest of the money. The crowdfund keeps growing because of the continued press. Now, people are getting involved because they want to be part of the iconic potato salad Kickstarter. That’s what you want to happen with your network and ventures.

Your payoff is having a network that works for you. Name dropping people who don’t really remember who you are does nothing positive for you. If you have a crowdfund and you’ve built the proper network, you should meet your goal. If you have a general problem, someone in your network should be able to help you directly or show you to someone who can help. The key to building a strong network is offering enough value and community that people want to be a part of it.


This piece is from pear-a-digms, a thought leadership blog focused on cultivating a culture of connected productivity entrepreneurs, students, business professionals, business owners, and everyone in between.

The Author: Kristine Santos. Entrepreneur. Anthropologist. Writer. Runs social media and blogging for Atlanta-based startup PEAR’d, a virtual collaboration ecosystem for entrepreneurs. A vegetarian who’s learning how to sew and wants to know all about your startup. Let’s talk on Twitter@PEARdUP


[Photo Credit: Screen Shot via Kickstarter]

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