Just had my first experience w/ kickstarter, and I’m amazed. My kid developed an RPG, and wanted to raise a couple grand to pay for artwork, formatting, and printing. He was all concerned about making his goal, and gave himself 29 days in which to do it. He exceeded goal in less than 12 hours!
Just amazing that folk with relatively modest goals/needs can obtain funding that way. I realize that I tend to have Luddite tendencies/perceptions, but this is definitely solidly in the plus column for technology/social media.
Also, what a cool way to find ways to direct charitable giving. I’ve never donated to a kickstarter before, but plan on doing so again.
Have you run kickstarter campaigns? For what kinds of projects? How successful have you been?
Have you contributed via kickstarter? How do you choose which projects you invest in?
Meanwhile, I’m looking for investors in a ski trip I have planned for next month…
Just FYI, since it sounds like you’re new to “crowdfunding” sites like Kickstarter…
Kickstarter is specifically set up for funding the creation of things, like the RPG that your son funded via his Kickstarter campaign. As I understand it, Kickstarter specifically requires people who run campaigns to have a deliverable “something” that supporters will get if the campaign is successful.
There are other sorts of crowdfunding sites, like GoFundMe, that aren’t as narrowly focused; for example, GoFundMe is often used for people who need to raise money to pay for medical expenses.
(In answer to your question: I’ve never run a Kickstarter campaign, but I’ve backed a number of them, almost all for RPGs or boardgames.)
Yeah, he offered a variety of “rewards” for folk who contribute at different levels.
I found it interesting how you could check the donors, and see how many other projects they had funded.
What a neat system.
Here’s my cynical part chiming in - do the folk at kickstarter claim any vig? Or is this offered entirely altruistically? (I didn’t check carefully, but I imagine kickstarter could offer their own kickstarter/GoFundMe to defray their expenses…)
It’s definitely not altruistic; they’re a for-profit company. It looks like they charge a 5% fee on the total amount raised (in addition to a fee that the payment processor charges).
I’ve not run a Kickstarter myself, but I have to believe that they’re pretty upfront to campaign creators about those fees (if they weren’t, they wouldn’t have lasted this long, or had people run multiple campaigns). One thing to note about Kickstarter campaigns is that the creator sets a “go / no go” level of funding; if the campaign doesn’t meet that level by the end of the campaign period, none of the backers are charged money (and, thus, the creator doesn’t get any money, either).
I’ve backed a few projects for interesting items, but not too many. It’s usually a very long wait to get whatever it is, you’re limited when it comes to any kind of refund (usually you’re SOL) if you end up not liking it, no opportunity to see any kind of reviews to make a decision beforehand. It really is best to think of it like donating to someone you want to support and getting a hopefully snazzy gift at the end, rather than traditional shopping. A lot of people think of it more like shopping and end up very unhappy with the process.
I also used to work for a company that has released several games via Kickstarter, all wildly successful. It’s a fantastic tool that’s also really really easy to jump into without enough planning.
What happens when you’re just a guy (or couple of guys) working out of a basement, thinking you’ll maybe get just enough funding from a couple hundred people but then the project goes viral and you have thousands of orders to fulfill? Where do you put your product then? How do you pack and ship that much in a timely fashion? Is your manufacturing being done in China? If so, have you planned around Chinese New Year? Do you have any kind of customer support updating all of the people that have questions, keeping them in the loop, etc.? How are you handling overseas shipping? Have you thought about VAT?
All of that (and more!) are questions a lot of people don’t ask themselves before deciding to crowdfund a thing, then they end up way over their heads when reality hits. I was the sole customer service person for the small company I was with, and Kickstarter time was… exciting.
Well said. As you note, campaigns that go viral can (and have) overwhelmed their creators. I’ve had several campaigns that I’ve backed that have been a year or more late (I’m still waiting on an RPG book that’s about 2 years overdue, though that’s in large part to the author suffering health issues). I’ve only had one crowdfunded project not come through at all, but at least, for that one, I was only out $20.
I’ve backed a couple projects. My wife backed those Fidget Cubes that were all the rage and they came out looking nice. Better than the cheap knock-offs anyway. I backed a video game that released on time but was completely disappointing. I backed another game that hasn’t released yet but it’s by a reputable company with a real history so I’m not too worried. And I backed some dice which came out looking nice. I have another set of dice in the making.
One common thread was that everything so far except the digital games has been at least a little late. For the physical goods, it was manufacturing delays where the original samples didn’t meet quality standards and stuff like that. I believe the Fidget Cube guys were swamped with orders they weren’t expecting and then didn’t like the original cubes to come off the line (rumor is that the early knock-offs were the rejected line sold to someone else). The dice I received were late due to the initial resin samples being rejected. The ones I’m waiting on were also initially rejected. So I wouldn’t Kickstart anything with the assumption that it’s going to come in on time. On the other hand, I haven’t had a “Never came at all” issue yet, mainly because I’ve limited myself to people with previous work in their field.