I've known Jeff Martin for years from our discussions about True Dungeon for my book -- as if managing True Dungeon wasn't cool enough, Jeff is also the president of Dwarven Forge. Dwarven Forge's latest miniature terrain Kickstarter is at over 1 million dollars with eight days to go. To call the Kickstarter a success is an understatement; it's long since blown past the goal of $100,000. I caught up with Jeff to learn more about what it takes to become a million dollar Kickstarter.
Michael Tresca (MT): Tell us about your Kickstarter.
Jeff Martin (JM): This is our second KS project, and it focuses on provide beautiful (yet durable) cavernous miniature terrain at an affordable price. Our first campaign was very successful ($1.9 million), and we are offering the same type of great stretch goals and add-on packs that made it so popular. The project ends on Tuesday, April 8th, and so far we are funded at over $1.1 million.
MT: Tell us about your gaming background.
JM: I have been an avid gamer since my teens in the late 70’s, and I have written articles and a column for Polyhedron magazine in the 80’s. I started with Dwarven Forge in 2000, and I am the creator and Executive Director of Gen Con Indy’s largest event – True Dungeon. I love rpg’s, but I am also fond of old Avalon Hill wargames like Third Reich.
MT: Tell us about your company.
JM: Dwarven Forge was founded 18 years ago by artist Stefan Pokorny, a medieval fantasy devotee -- and an avid Dungeons and Dragons enthusiast. As a classically trained, professional painter and sculptor, Stefan decided to create "real" dungeon terrain that would equal his incredible 25mm tall hero figures. After many months of painstaking design, sculpting and painting, he introduced the world's finest pre-painted miniature terrain in 1996.
Response from gamers was overwhelming! They loved the fact the pieces are fully hand-painted and ready to use out of the box. They marveled at how they could rearrange the pieces to depict an infinite number of fantasy settings.
Since 1996 thousands of loyal collectors have purchased Dwarven Forge sets for their miniature and RPG games, cool dioramas, and for the beauty of the product itself. These sets are built to last, and many collectors are now sharing them with their children and grandchildren.
Here is a short video about Stefan Pokorny and his incredible vision for Dwarven Forge.
MT: Have you Kickstarted any other products in the past?
JM: Yes, we completed a $1.9 million KS campaign in April 2013 for our first dungeon-themed miniature terrain offering.
MT: How has Kickstarter changed or influenced your business model?
JM: Kickstarter has allowed us to provide these new terrain products because the backers’ support allows us to purchase the very expensive steel molds needed for production. Without this new kind of crowdfunding, we simply could not produce our new terrain.
MT: Why should backers contribute to your Kickstarter? What sets it apart?
JM: Dwarven Forge has been passion about providing the world’s finest miniature terrain for over 18 years, and we have an outstanding reputation for customer service and fan base engagement. We are the ideal Kickstarter company – we are a small, passionate company that has been putting out great products for a very long time that can provide a really cool product at a great price with a little help from KS backers.
MT: How do you feel about the state of the gaming industry today?
JM: The addition of crowdfunding into the mix has really changed the industry for the better. Someone with a lot of passion and great ideas has a much better chance of seeing their hard work come to fruition.
MT: What's next for your company?
JM: We plan on doing another Kickstarter next year as well. The exact details are still being worked out, but we greatly enjoy the crowdfunding scene – so we plan on coming back.
MT: What conventions will you be at next?
JM: We only attend Gen Con Indy these days for a variety of reasons. However, due to the fact that we have been around for so long, you can see Dwarven Forge terrain actually being used at about any gaming convention you might attend.
MT: Where can we find out more about your company online?
JM: Please visit www.dwarvenforge.com
MT: Anything else you'd like to share?
JM: Thank you for your help in getting out the word about our project. There really are some fantastic deals available to backers during this Kickstarter that ends April 8th. We hated getting emails after our first KS project from all the people who missed it. We don’t want to leave anyone out if we can help it.
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