Polgote.com - a new platform to connect Go teachers and Go students

Hello OGS community!
My name is Mateusz Surma. I’m 2-dan professional Go player certified by the EGF.

I’m creating the platform to connect Go teachers and Go students and save their time.

The project runs since March 2021 and in July 2021 I hired a software house to create the platform.
I need to pay the web developers to finish their job.

I decided to gather the money by a crowdfunding campaign.
I don’t ask for donations - I’m offering you rewards of a bigger value than what you pay.

So, help me and get your rewards :wink:
https://www.pozible.com/profile/polgotecom

#CrowdfundingPolgote


After the crowdfunding ends and when the new polgote platform starts to work - the students will be able to order Go lessons running on the Online Go Server.

Have a look at the tutorials prepared by us for you of how to use the OGS.

Part 1: How to register?

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First, I wanted to let you know that I think the premise of this project is great. If you are able to successfully realize your vision, the world of Go will be stronger and better for it. It is something I searched for when I first found Go three years ago, and it is something I could still use now. I have found several teachers online offering their services, but never a service offering to connect me with multiple teachers. I like the idea and am interested in seeing how this develops.

That being said, I wanted to share some feedback with you that I have about your crowdfunding effort. The Campaign page has several errors on it that need to be corrected. If you are crowdfunding you want people to believe in you and your ability to manage a project of this size competently. Linguistic errors can shake a person’s perception that you are capable of effectively presenting an effort like this to an international audience.

I am not sure if your crowdfunding page is available in any languages beyond English, but the English speech could be much better in some places. It is obvious to me the writer for the Campaign page does not speak English natively. As a potential customer who speaks English, this presentation worries me and I am left wondering if language will be a barrier when using your service. There are other errors which really make me hesitant to pledge any money because they are obvious. All it would take is a simple rereading of the text to locate them. It seems that hasn’t been done though and this really worries me.

The crowdfunding presentation could be better. I have seen a lot of crowdfunding efforts for a variety of products, most of which are for board games, tabletop roleplaying games, and even some online platforms and services like Roll20. When trying to raise money it is vital you get potential viewers excited about what you are offering. They expect to first be sold an idea, specifically your vision. They want to see the product through your eyes. It’s purpose, beauty, and above all else the possibilities it holds for those who possess it.

The primary goal of any crowdfunding effort is to get people excited, and the second goal is to present all of the information they will need about your offering. It is possible to get people to pledge while excited, even if they don’t possess all of the information. But it is hard to get people to pledge who have all of the information, but lack sufficient excitement to invest in your enterprise. Basic marketing theory goes a long way when crowdfunding and is easy to locate for free on the internet.

Beyond a viewers financial limitations, the size of a person’s pledge either relates to the reward associated with their pledge or how excited they are by the time they reach the pledge area. I think your rewards are good, but they could be diversified a bit further. Of the rewards you are offering, I felt the best bang for your buck was pledging $150 to earn $250 in site currency. That offering excited me, but the text of the page is rather straightforward and emotionally neutral.

I didn’t feel especially motivated to pledge by the time I was hitting the end of the Campaign page. In my mind crowdfunding relies heavily on impulse buying. It seems most likely that someone will reach the end of the page and purchase right then, or never at all. And if that is true, ensuring they are feeling energized by the end of it is extraordinarily paramount to your crowdfunding success.

Looking at the Campaign page alone I see a lot of missed potential as someone who has read a few marketing books. As a webpage visitor I feel the page is underdeveloped compared to other crowdfunding efforts I have seen before. As a consumer I am worried the state and quality of presentation of the Campaign page is what I can expect from the finished product. Overall, my confidence is low and I find myself deciding not to pledge at this time, choosing instead to wait and see how this project develops further in the future.

And just like that you have lost a potential customer and a much needed pledge during a critical time of your project’s development. If this has been my experience, it is fair to estimate I am not the only visitor who was turned away based on the quality of your presentation. I sympathize with you and imagine what you are trying to do here is both difficult and new to you. And that this project is near and dear to your heart. Which is why I have taken the time to share my thoughts and why I am being so candid with you.

My biggest piece of advice is to learn more about how to crowdfund successfully and how to market effectively. A service like this isn’t the easiest thing to sell a person on. You need to attract two separate types of customers, teachers and students, and have enough of both for your service to thrive. Both types need to be convinced that their time will be well spent if they choose your platform.

Teachers need to believe they can make money and customers want to know their financial investment will pay off. Both will have unique reservations and fears about committing to a marketplace like this. It is vital you try to get into the headspace of both customer types and present your project in a way that addresses potential concerns. After they finish hearing your project pitch you want to leave both feeling confident and excited.

I cannot stress enough how big a barrier language is going to be when you are attempting to reach an international audience. Ensuring it is clear, concise, and effective is a foundational element to future success. As long as it remains questionable, I think your success will remain on shaky ground. Google Translate is free, but a poor substitute for a genuine translator.

I realize that the clock is already ticking on your current crowdfunding effort and that there isn’t much time to change things up. If this particular crowdfunding effort does not reach a level you are happy with, I truly hope that you stick with this and try raising money again. I think your idea is a great one and that with a little polish and improvement, a future crowdfunding effort will be even more successful.


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Every person who is reading this forum post already has managed to sign up for an OGS account. Posting a different tutorial would be more effective in showcasing what you have to offer OGS customers. Perhaps covering one or more game tools in the slide out menu of an actual OGS Go match would be more exciting for OGS viewers.

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Wow, I really like the way you replied to the guy’s campaign… you really took the time and effort to reply in the most professional way. Bravo. I myself am new to Go, I really like the idea of the presentation but the campaign wasn’t the best, I think he should take your feedback seriously to bring the project somewhere.

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Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts and for telling me about my mistakes.
I appreciate it a lot!

For the crowdfunding campaign - all the texts have been written by myself.
For the website - all texts in each language version of the website will be checked and corrected by a professional translator and then also checked and corrected by a Go player (who is a native speaker of the translated language) and then checked by the professional translator again.

I will remember your advice about focusing more on the selling page than on the advertisements.

Yes, you’re right. It will be covered in the next tutorials.

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And the next tutorial about the OGS - How to play a game on the Online Go Server?

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Yes, I do see where this project comes from. Many go teachers are building their own platforms, and it costs a huge amount for development and maintenance. When the participating teachers and students reach a critical threshold (both parties should), the cost can reduced and the platform can operate sustainably. I will be happy if this idea works out perfectly and many more useful contents will be created and shared.

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I’ve taken go lessons with Polgote in the past. It was a league system, we played a match every week or every 2 weeks and our games were commented by 7d+ teachers. About 6 teachers participated. I am aware that the platform will change completely but in any case I intend to take lessons again in the future so I put money in the project. Even if the project doesn’t work as well as intented, it’s risk-free since I’ll get lessons anyway, unless no teacher wants to use the platform but that seems very unlikely.

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I do agree with @Mulsiphix1 feedback.
When I read the website I also had doubts and didn’t get excited about it.
Where @Mulsiphix1’s feedback is rather abstract, let me give two examples.

In the Who runs the project? paragraph you start mentioning your achievements in go. Being a good player is however not a guarantee for your managerial and business skills.
In this paragraph I would have left the achievements out (or trimmed them down a bit) and focus on the business skills. In 2017 you started a business.
What was it? Succeses? Experiences of users?
Prove to us that you are able to pull this project off successfully!

In the Rewards paragraph you start mentioning a lot of facts about weight, size, different kind of vouchers, etc. I think the text will be better if you put these facts in a clickable link.
Too much facts obscure the main idea of what you are selling. People will stop reading the text. I did.
Get people enthusiastic first. Later fill in the details.

Good luck with your project.

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By the way, can someone correct the spelling of the announcement (croud → crowd)?

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Extending the great points made by @Mulsiphix1 and @Atorrante I would like to add the following things:

a) I am not very knowledgeable in crowdfunding because I avoid them after having a few bad experiences with backing good ideas of people with good credentials, that later reneged upon the project goals using various excuses. In that regard, I see that a lot of effort has been put in thinking about the project and its expences, but not enough to present it and, beyond the needed excitement, to create a sense of assurance that if things go bad, at least something will be generated. Having stretch goals instead of a one-off seems like a better idea.
b) Similarly, spending 40000 dollars on the programmers is quite the sum, but it would have been a much better investment if you had considered to hire someone with professional marketing skills like @Mulsiphix1 to take care of the marketing campaign. It would have cost you a fraction of that money and weilded a much better result.
c) Alternatively it would have been a good idea to roll out the whole thing to the various Go communities and receive various feedback and ideas for free, BEFORE going forward with it. Maybe it is just my impression, but I think that the average Go player is more likely to be highly educated and have some solid ideas than most other fora I have been part of. Also, they are already an international community so they might have provided with some ideas or issues that they might come up with on that all-important multi-lingual front.
d) @jlt mentioned that your site is already functioning and providing courses, so that should have been used and promoted as a “success story” over which you build and expand. How many teachers, how many students, good testimonials by content clients that are happy and trust your platform should have been in the front row of this effort. For me @jlt 's endorsement of your existing platform meant more than anything else you had in your campaign text.
e) This brings us to sustainability which is a great issue in all such endeavors. Without using the data from the already existing platform making bank and providing a benchmark for success, it is hard to convince that the next step somehow will make it out of the blue.
f) Already going forward with it and THEN asking for the crowdfunding is putting the cart before the horse and creating an artificial sense of urgency to the potential customer. The lack of the aforementioned stretch goals and the all-or-nothing sense of the project, along with the great amount of target money and the uncertainty of the sustainability also do not help.

Last but not least, as a person that also has a Go project going (albeit slowly these days due to RL issues) I want to say that there are some similarities in the way we approached things which are not good and while in my case they could be excused because I am not a pro therefore I never even thought about making money off my project (let alone a profit) and it was something that was made on an amateur level.
I had the luxury of making things my own way and then asking for feedback, because no profit was ever the goal. You are creating a commercial platform. The feedback and the needs of the users/players/clients is all-important.
I had the luxury of taking that feedback and slowly improving my book and my setup, because there were no expenses involved. I am working for free. The volunteer translators work for free. We can afford to have as a project motto “no anxiety, no timetables”, because there is no publisher waiting to be paid. Noone is over our heads waiting a result. But your clock is ticking, especially if you open up to partners and turn it to “Limited Liability”. I could get and incorporate the feedback whenever it was available and possible. You shouldn’t do that with a commercial project, yet you are doing it.
Finally the last consequence of me not being a pro is that everyone could dunk on me and my book and I was very happy to receive even some harsh criticisms. People could afford to be honest or even harsh, because I am an amateur player just like most of them. However, who is going to stand up to a pro and say “dude, this sucks. It needs improvement.” … not many is the answer, if any. This is why your project should have gone through brainstorming, through the community as a general idea/concept first (so that people would have scrutinised it and picked its pros and cons without the clock already ticking on a crowdfund, nor with the reputation of an actual pro over their heads making them hesitant to comment upon it). This is why your project should have gone through the EGF or presented in the European Go Congress as an event, where people of your own caliber could help you and back you or give you more feedback and ideas, along with possible funding.

My project is free. It has minimal expenses. It has no competition. It was not cutting the business or the profits of anyone.
Yours isn’t free. According to your crowdfunding it has already cost you 20000 dollars. It has competition. It is going to try to undercut the already existing teaching platforms here in Europe and the ones coming from outside Europe. You should have had the sponsorship of the EGF, the collaboration/pledge of other existing teachers that would express their desire to merge and use into your own platform.

I hope your effort works, because you seem to have invested a lot into it, but 40.000 is a lot of money to gather in 18 days, at this time of uncertainty.

P.S.
I just noticed from your comment that this is the kind of crowdfunding that doesn’t get the money unless the goal is met. I also noticed the 5000 bracket and that you’d travel somewhere for two days to talk with the potential investor and etc etc. This seems so unrealistic for a 18 day span.

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Thank you very much for telling me your suggestions!

The crowdfunding page has been improved based on your feedback.
https://www.pozible.com/profile/polgotecom

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The next part of OGS tutorials - Helpful tools used for game reviews!

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Hi all,

A few questions not only about this project but also about go education platforms in general:

  1. Go specific platforms vs. general purpose education platform: Why do we use a go specific platform instead of a general purpose platform? A factor I see in the case of GoMagic or Internet Go School is problem solving or homework doing functions.

  2. Charge of the platform: I heard a go teacher mentioning 30% premium fee is taken away by Youtube, that is a factor to consider when choosing a platform to upload your videos or lectures.

  3. What is the reasonable price of a course? A good platform liaisons teachers and students and facilitates rewarding teachers who provide good contents and eventually more great contents are created.

  4. How to categorize courses? Top of mind is several types of labels (or tags) can be used: labels about student levels (DDK, SDK, dan level, etc.), opening, joseki, mid-game, end-game (yose), tsumego, tesuji, shape, etc…

Your comments are highly appreciated, thanks, Dino

What’s the deal with the name?

Why not PolSente?

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The company was created over 4 years ago and the registered name of the company is “polgote.com”.

Meaning of “.com” is that it is an online business.

I wanted the have the letters “go” in the name, so that they will also form an additional meaning.
(it was possible to do it with “gote” → Go players will understand that it is about the game of Go)

And at the end the name turned out to come from: Polish Go Teaching .com → polgote.com

Btw. The new logo keeps the style of more meanings → the letter of “P” from the name of the company and the appearance of a half-black and half-white Go stone.
There are more things that keep the style of extra meanings, e.g. prices of the cheapest Go equipment rewards in the crowdfunding campaign are: 81 usd, 169 usd, 361 usd.

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Please forgive us, you know how Americans are with spelling :wink: he means well :stuck_out_tongue:

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Yes it’s a good way to get new subscribors.

The next part of OGS tutorials - How to make use of the SGF files?

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Check the next OGS tutorial and make sure you are able to write during game reviews!

Once more - Thank you very much for your feedback!

The crowdfunding page has been improved based on your suggestions.
https://www.pozible.com/profile/polgotecom