How Triggertrap’s $500k Kickstarter campaign crashed and burned

Naiveté, poor decisions and six expensive lessons we learned along the way

Haje Jan Kamps
15 min readMar 2, 2015

by Haje Jan Kamps, then-CEO at Triggertrap. Never heard of Triggertrap? If you need a bit of context, this is a great 90-second introduction to the company’s best-selling product, Triggertrap Mobile.

Already looking like you’re a year behind schedule isn’t a great place to be, but in our most recent Kickstarter update, we revealed that our software was finally complete. It was a major milestone.

Finally finishing the software was absolutely worth celebrating, but the celebration didn’t last long: Once we finally had the software sorted, we were confident that the hardware didn’t need any further updates. This meant that we were finally able to finalise the Bill of Materials (BOM), and to get the tooling (i.e. the injection moulding parts) ready to put Triggertrap Ada into mass production. This was the point where we received a final quote from our manufacturing partners. This was the point when it all ground to a halt.

How it all went wrong…

I’ve made no secret of the fact that getting Triggertrap Ada to market has been a rough ride. If you’ve been following our adventure, you will already be aware of the fact that we were estimating delivery in May 2015 — exactly a year later than we had originally predicted. What I haven’t discussed so far, is the financial impact this delay has had on this project.

So, let’s talk about that…

We completely blew our development budget

The amount of money we spent to get where we are today is vastly higher than we had planned — and hoped — would be the case. The electronics and software development was, in fact, almost ten times more expensive than we had provisioned for in our original budgets.

One of the first things you do when you’re planning to bring a new product to market, is to create a project budget. So that’s what we did. We used the information we had at hand — previous experience, estimates from our manufacturing partners, and quotes we received from our development agencies — to put together a comprehensive budget. We were more or less on budget by the time the Kickstarter project launched. In fact, we were feeling pretty…

Haje Jan Kamps

Writer, startup pitch coach, enthusiastic dabbler in photography.