Kickstarter re-commits to ideas instead of pre-orders


38 Responses to “Kickstarter re-commits to ideas instead of pre-orders”

  1. trackofalljades says:

    Some of the details in the “new rules” seem potentially problematic, but overall it’s good to see them reminding people of this. It’s frustrating that anyone needs to be taught that investment and purchase have different definitions…but that’s more a failure of parenting and education than anything Kickstarter is at fault for.

  2. Daneel says:

    I’d rather it went the other way, actually; I’d like Kickstarter to become more of a crowdsourced venture capitalism scheme. I’d let projects offer equity instead of ‘rewards’.

    The announced changes might be more in line with what the original idea was, but for me, this probably makes it much less likely that anything I want to back will be on there, because pre-ordering cool stuff is exactly what I like about Kickstarter. And I say that as a backer of one of those case studies covered on Wired.

    I do think that some of the project organizers should set an upper limit for what they are after, though – that way they might prevent some of those scaling issues they seem to be having.

    I can’t see how these new guidelines will work for projects like Pebble – are they still allowed to sell single instances of the project in question, at least? If they can only ask for cash and give overpriced stickers, t-shirts and mouse mats in return then I can’t see how hardware projects are going to be a big success on Kickstarter ever again. Sounds to me like they want it just to be artists looking for patrons.

    • This seems to me part of the way in which a company either sticks to what sees as its best part, changes direction, or gets unfocused. I thought Kickstarter might split into two separate parts: one for ideas, performance, art, etc., in which the outcome was clearly stated as not guaranteed; and one that was more focused on a vetting and incubation process to help makers produce things to sell at an early stage.

      Instead, they’re recommitting to the former, and making it a harder slog to push for the latter.

      The mistake that sometimes get made (and not by you, Daneel) is that one firm that’s successful in the middle of an area should do everything around that area. If there’s enough motivation and money, we’re going to see several companies capitalize on this change.

      Also, when the JOBS act is fully digested, regulated, etc., then we’ll see more direct micro-investing.

    • invictus says:

      I’d let projects offer equity instead of ‘rewards’. 
      You mean something like this?
      Or perhaps like this?

  3. chuckwaugh says:

    As a project creator who just finished shipping YESTERDAY (about 3 months late!), I can say that these rules are bad.


    Mainly because it penalizes the creators of projects and does not educate or warn the backers.
    Savvy Backers (like savvy investors) understand that it is a risk to back a project. it may not actually pan out! WOW!  What a concept. That’s the point of backing an IDEA as opposed to backing a PRODUCT.
     Inexperienced backers think that everything should be perfect and ship on time with no problems.  Savvy backers know that most things pan out because the creator is deeply invested financially and emotionally in the project, but not all do end up panning out. Huh! That’s life.

    In my own project I was called an ‘amateur’ by one irate backer. And, I agreed – that’s the point here – it’s a START-UP, not a finished company. 

    In my project I was late – seriously late.  Why? Because the prototype didn’t scale up to the finished product.  We then had to invest in injection tooling (thousands of dollars!) and try the design out to find out it failed. You see, a 3D printed proto is NOT the actual as-injected-with-the-exact-resin finished product. It didn’t fail dramatically, it failed just enough to make me say “Don’t ship it – redesign it.” That sucked up a month and half of time and few thousand more dollars.
    That’s what Research and Development is all about – figuring it out!
    We had other problems I will not bore you with.Suffice it to say: Life isn’t perfect and development is HARD..

    My responses to the changes are:

    1) The ‘Risks and Challenges’ section is just words. Now, me, I’d be honest and say I’m a design engineer with a successful project completed (albeit late from my initial estimate), I work late at night sometimes and make silly decisions at times.  But others?  They could say whatever they want and wait for the internet to (possibly) ‘out’ them as not being who they say they are.

    2) The ‘No renderings and no simulations’ rule is Draconian and Procrustean.It cuts off the best part of explanation because we don’t fit the bed of ‘actual’. Maybe the rule should be: Rendering and simulations are OK… IF and ONLY IF your proto can show the same general capabilities.  Oh, wait!… but that makes it hard for KS to vet projects.  They might actually have to engage the creators, which they currently don’t in any meaningful way.

    3) No multiples offered. Ridiculous!  
    The advantages of scale in manufacturing are real.  Making a hundred of something can be darn near the same cost as making a thousand (as the book project I just published can attest to).  That drives down the individual cost and makes the overall ‘profit’ much more.[BTW: ‘profit’ is in quotes, because, even though I raised $70K on KS, that is happily vacuumed up in all the other costs of patenting, producing the video, all the ancillary materials, prototyping costs, etc., etc., etc..) 

    Lastly, I suggest that there be a pop-up unavoidable window when the ‘Back This Project’ button is clicked.  And, just like in an investment scenario in business, it would ask the backer to agree to these statements:

    A) I understand that backing a project does not guarantee that I will receive the reward offered exactly when promised or at all.  There is risk involved as well as reward.

    B) The loss of my pledge will not harm me financially in any appreciable manner.  

    C) I have the funds available to back this project and understand that I will not be charged until the funding goal is reached.

    That puts the backer on notice that this is a real-world fund-raising effoprt, NOT A STORE.

    I disagree with these rules and I suggest that the onus be put more on the backers to be wise about their ‘investment’, not on the creators who have already risked so much to present their idea on Kickstarter.

    Charles Waugh
    Boring, OR (yes, it really is called Boring!)

  4. Izen_Anet says:

    I also think these new rules go in the wrong direction. I do think that people understand that what they are doing is a preorder. I can’t find any concrete reason why this would be bad. If Kickstarter really wants to draw a line, why not have two sorts of projects (ideas, and products)?
    I can see that, from Kickstarter’s persepective, this might be a matter of branding. But my guess is that this is mostly a legal issue. If these are indeed preorders, then they become liable for a lot of things.
    My real fear would be that an alternative (for preorders) does not arise fast enough. The success of Kickstarter really feels like a transition, which threatens the old model (it’s really like p2p, but for funding instead of distribution). Right now the old model is not doing anything to defend itself, but the slower the transition, the more chance it will have to.
    On the other hand, the worst case scenario would be if Kickstarter died of legal troubles. So maybe this is for the best.

  5. Kim Keeline says:

    Anything that makes people trust Kickstarter more is good.  My project’s deadline is Monday and I know that too many people worry about Kickstarter’s reputation.  (Look up Celebrity Sonnets if you want to see my project).

  6. therantguy says:

    Kickstarter is trying very hard to deny what it actually is. I find it funny to listen to people talk about Kickstarter as if it’s a fund for ideas rather than stuff. You know who funds ideas? Investors. You know what they get? Equity.

    You simply cannot say to people…”hey, I’ve got a great idea, give me $100 so I can make and sell these things to other people while you get a warm and fuzzy feeling inside”…that just not reality…at the end of the day either people get equity or they get stuff…and Kickstarter is trying to have it both ways…and you can’t.

    • hughstimson says:

      Am I wrong in thinking that there have been thousands of Kickstarter projects that have done exactly the thing you’re claiming can’t be done?

      • invictus says:

        Yes, you are.

        Pretty much all projects offer some kind of compensation or reward. It might be overpriced with respect to what the backer receives, but the vast majority of backers don’t go in for the $1 “I just want to support this project for the warm fuzzies” level.

      • You’re not wrong. Most of the comments are conflating the types of things that get backed on Kickstarter: products, ideas and cultural capital.  I regularly back projects where I care more about the cultural capital than the reward. It’s nice to get a postcard or a letter or a call out from an art show, a theatre piece or a dance company but that’s not why I back them. Indeed I know sending that stuff is annoying for a project so I often give money and select “No reward”. I back them because Arts funding sucks. I rarely, if ever, even get to see the final show and I don’t overly care. I also find that the vast majority of them execute.
        I sometimes back products if they look interesting but I generally approach that with a different risk equation: it’s R&D it might not become real. If other backers aren’t mature enough to understand that 75% of small companies fail then that’s an educational failure not an organizational one.

    • I tend to disagree, because the stuff in the “idea” category I mention is typically not stuff of value; rather of sentiment. In the “product” category, the stuff is the stuff that’s being made.

      The tote bag versus the iPhone dock.

  7. greggman says:

    Does anyone think 10% to Kickstarter and 10% to Amazon is a little too much for doing almost nothing but run a website to host projects on? I’m honestly curious. 

    • chuckwaugh says:

      Kickstarter takes 5%.
      .Amazon gets between 3% and 5% depending on the type of credit card used (a rewards card vacuums more to support it’s ‘rewards’ to the user)

      • What Chuck said on percentages.

        In terms of “doing almost nothing,” Kickstarter is extremely useful at 5% for most people who don’t know how to build an account system, accept fees (even if they paid less than 3-5% to process credit cards), and manage mailings to those who pledged.

        Also an individual or small business who takes in more than a few hundred to a few thousand dollars with a new merchant-card account will find those funds frozen for up to six months. Kickstarter uses Amazon’s payment system for collecting fees, and Amazon’s relationship with banks requires only a short holding period instead of weeks or months.

        I have, in fact, built such a system for one Web site, and we decided to run our own subscription fundraiser which had aspects of crowdfunding. It all went very well. But we had hundreds of hours of programming and integration in place, and a long history with our back-end payment processor, and had already integrated payments for one kind of thing.

        Software companies and other firms, especially with track records and existing ordering systems, are much better prepared to offer pre-order pricing for new products, and they may be able to take lessons from crowdfunding and not use Kickstarter or other sites. But that seems to me a subset of all the tens of thousands of projects that pass through Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and a few other sites.

    • hughstimson says:

      10% to Kickstarter seems pretty fair to me. I’m guessing many or most of the projects would, realistically, never have come together if Kickstarter (or IndieGoGo) didn’t exist to facilitate them.

      10% seems like a reasonable cost of business if it legitimately makes the difference between your business existing or not.

      Or if your prefer a econ-speak assessment, price is rarely a function of cost to the producer, but rather of the value to the buyer. And the Kickstarter value is high.

    • Chloe Eudaly says:

      If you think Kickstarter is doing “almost nothing” then try launching a crowdfunding project on your own website and see what happens. Not everything is going to fly on Kickstarter but it is truly an amazing resource for the right projects.

  8. chromatius says:

    Please, ‘explanation’, ‘elucidation’, ‘investigation’, ‘outline’ but not ‘exegesis’. Just wrong on so many levels, including just being plain wrong.

    • ocker3 says:

      The term would perhaps be best used to describe a book or work that reviews/explains/expands on Dreaming in Code, rather than an explanation of what Dreaming in Code does.

    • It’s a metaphor, colorful fellow—the text is the software on which he’s performing exegesis. Sigh. One tries to make a little subtle joke, and the literalists come out.

  9. yoshua says:

    To date, the only kickstarter projects I’ve gone for are the product kind. No offense to everybody and their brother who wat th do an art project or record an album, but I’m not gonna go for any of them. I’m only interested in the STUFF! If your music is good enough afterward, I’ll buy it. The projects that really get under my skin are the ones that pretend to be a charity.

  10. Wayneburg says:

    Hey for anyone interested in the non-product Kickstarter art projects… I wrote a guest article about some of the details that goes into starting up a project. I think some of it pertains to this discussion.

  11. Mazoola says:

    Hell, I’m still trying to get a Dreammachine out of David Woodard — 7-1/2 years after I sent him half a grand through PayPal. A few months’ slip on a $15 item doesn’t even register above the noise…

  12. penguinchris says:

    Interesting – and disappointing – development from them. Like others have said, I’m (mostly) only interested in the tangible products that arise from Kickstarter, not the other stuff. I’ve only backed one and I received it within their estimated timeframe (it got sent to my parents’ house so I don’t actually have it in my hands yet, but that was my fault) but there have been many more I would have funded if I had more money right now.

    It’s also mainly disappointing to me, though, because I have a product I was planning to launch with Kickstarter, somewhat soon. I suppose there are other sites but naturally the advantage of Kickstarter is that it’s the biggest and most well-known site, which is important for people who don’t expect tons of free publicity for their idea or product.

  13. crwatson21 says:

    The composition-commissioning project I am currently running on Kickstarter seems to be exactly the kind of project no one in the comments here would back.

    I am disappoint, mutants.
    (search KS for Tromboteam if interested)

    • Backed! Great to see new composition especially for a neglected instrument like the trombone.

    • invictus says:

      Not to sound too harsh or anything, and I hope you get funded, but… Your failed business model is not my problem

      And really, think of it this way: If your offering doesn’t appeal to a wide enough audience, wouldn’t you rather learn that *before* you spend $6K on the idea rather than *after*?

      • You’re missing the point. He’s not building product and he’s not selling the commissioned work. He’s producing cultural capital. That’s totally different from the types of project the article is discussing.

        • invictus says:

          Someone here is certainly missing the point, yes. Now read my comment again and point out where I referred to anything in the original article.

          Craig Watson’s offering is, essentially, an opportunity for the masses to become patrons of the arts. If that offering isn’t appealing enough to attract the funding he is soliciting, then… Alas.

          • Sorry if I misconstrued you but a lot of other comments (and IMHO your comment reads that way too) in the thread basically ignore the fact that the change only impacts projects in the Hardware and Product Design categories.

          • invictus says:

            So let’s see… crwatson21 makes a comment on a post that doesn’t actually affect him — since his offering is neither hardware nor a product being designed — and complains about how people commenting on the changes to the aforementioned categories aren’t willing to participate in his kickstarter campaign. I reply — not to the original post, you’ll note, but to crwatson21 — by pointing out that if he fails to gain the necessary support for his project, it’s hardly the potential supporters’ fault. I’d say that crwatson21 is suffering from mis-targetted promotion syndrome. 

            Nothing in my comment referenced the original post. But then, nothing in crwatson21′s comment was relevant to the original post, either. So please, explain to me why you decided that I
            a) ignored the fact that the change wasn’t applicable to crwatson21′s category of fundraiser
            b) should care, when replying to a comment that has nothing to do with the aforementioned changes

    • GawainLavers says:

      Is it fission jazz?

  14. ultranaut says:

    I’ve given up to (approximately) 16% of my relatively small income to various projects via Kickstarter. There’s one project I’ve given more money than I typically sacrifice to the cause that has simultaneously disappointed and impressed me, there’s a handful that did “things” and emailed me about them, there’s a few that did not quite reach their goals, and there’s even less that reached their goals and I subsequently lost track of (for the most part I will return (eventually), depending on my degree of boredom).

    I do have a small collection of physical objects that have resulted from money converted to “capital” via Kickstarter. One of them is a very popular shirt that spreads joy and curiosity every time I wear it in public, another is a signed original copy of something with historical significance to my culture. There are two CDs, at least one poster, three postcards (one from someone I already knew!) , and one t-shirt I have washed twice but never worn (I have higher standards in clothing). 

    On balance; between the excess income I’ve spent on cultural production via localized debauchery, “investments” with at least some intent of seeding financial capital, and debt “servicing” for previous endeavors in existence, I would place debauchery in an open lead with Kickstarter cruising in second place while laughing at “investments” (for showing last place debt whose bitch it really is).

    Thus far I have helped make awesome roboticists do their thing for the good of humanity, radical media professionals produce their messages from beyond mediocracy, indie gamedevs make some damn fine art that will inspire all children of our future to visions of grandiourocity (by our standards, at least!), and some other random shit like devious architects of infrastructure bringing the awesomeness of the future to refugee parties in the farthest corners of our discontent civilization.  

    I have minimal regrets.

    • ultranaut says:

      The point I was trying to make: Kickstarter is inherently awesome, it wasn’t founded just to be another glorified postfactory for neotraditional consumerism! (not that there’s anything wrong with that…)

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