For those not in the know, Kickstarter is a crowd funding site where entrepreneurs post project ideas and the general public gets to back projects that they like. Projects are pretty diverse from technology to music to art through to design so there really is something to everyone. Backing levels usually start at $1 and projects have between one and three months to reach their funding target. Project offer a range of backing levels and the higher the level the bigger the reward on offer. For example, the hugely successful Pebble watch that aimed to raise $100,000 and went on to raise over $10M, allowed you to pledge between $1 and $100,000 which got you anything from a warm fuzzy feeling to 100 watches.
To date I have backed a number of projects including the Pebble watch and a few other tech related projects. I have also backed Blacktop Royalty’s Debut Album and am excited to download the final tracks.
Another great thing I like about the Kickstarter platform is the regular updates that you get along the way. All the projects that I have backed have been very good about posting updates and pictures as the process moves along. Remember, that almost all these projects are ideas, perhaps with a working prototype, that needs to be taken to production. That can be a long and arduous process that isn’t guaranteed to succeed. So far I haven’t backed any project that has failed but it is a possibility and, I guess, that you would lose your money just like investing into shares. A case of caveat emptor.
So that’s the good and the risks out the way. What about the bad? I have two issues with Kickstarter, well one is with the platform and the other is with the entrepreneurs themselves.
Firstly the search facility doesn’t seem very intelligent. On a number of occasions I have found a great project that I have wanted to come back to at a later date but haven’t been able to find it using the search facility and phrases that I know are in the text. This niggles me somewhat but I can at least minimise this issue by making the project a “favourite” that I can come back to.
The biggest issue I have with Kickstarter though is what seems to be a real case of profiteering by some over postage charges. Typically postage if free within the US but an additional $10-$15 outside. So to have my Pebble watch delivered to the UK it is costing an additional $15 on top of the $125 cost of the watch itself, fine. However, there are other projects that are sending tiny, low cost, items and still charging $15. For example the blink(1) is a usb notification light that costs $30 to buy with an additional $15 to send. 50% of the original price to send something smaller than a USB drive seems to be taking the piss somewhat. Also with those in the US getting free delivery that means that those outside are effectively subsidising the US purchasers.
Besides the small rant above I am pretty happy with Kickstarter. There are alternatives, such as Indiegogo which looks so much like Kickstarter that sometimes I forget where I am. I’m not sure who copied who’s website. However, Kickstarter seems to have a momentum right now and more projects seem to be getting funding so that’s where I look right now.
Would you consider backing a project or even starting a project on Kickstarter?