kottke.org posts about Kickstarter
With Kickstarter's advanced search capability, you can see a list of projects on the site with the goal of raising more than $1 million but with less than $1,000 in pledges. A sampling of recent projects from the list:
Secure Spent Fuel Rods Now ($30,000,000 goal). Needs the funds to produce and air TV commercials about the need to secure spent fuel rods from nuclear reactors.
LeBron the Redeemer Statue ($1,000,000 goal). This is my favorite: this project aims to construct a statue of LeBron James in the style of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro. I think we should actually be backing this.
The Exodus, one Ark or many ($100,000,000 goal). To buy used cruise ships to form permanent sustainable societies at sea. "Pirates" is listed as one of the project's potential risks.
Breakfast 24/7 ($1,000,000). For building a chain of restaurants that will serve and deliver breakfast 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 360 days a year.
I know that headline is a little harsh; many of these projects are good ideas that perhaps need more reasonable budgets and goals or might be better realized through non-crowdfunding avenues. Keep on reaching for the stars, kids!
Amazon has built a store specifically for products that started out on Kickstarter. What a great idea. Here is Kickstarter's post about the initiative.
Getting a creative idea off the ground is often just the first step. Amazon Launchpad is a chance for creators to be discovered by new audiences, and to serve those audiences well by using Amazon's retail expertise and infrastructure. The program offers custom product pages, comprehensive marketing support, and access to Amazon's global fulfillment network.
A quick look through the store yielded some products that I've backed or featured on kottke.org: Electric Objects Digital Art Display, The Internet's Own Boy, Richard Renaldi's Touching Strangers, and Hello Ruby: Adventures in Coding.
From James Grimmelmann, a short smart piece on the nature of Kickstarter, riffing off the recent piece in the NY Times about a high-profile failed KS project. He argues that "Kickstarter is a tool for managing risk", for shifting part of the inevitable risk of creative projects from the creator to the backers.
The Kickstarter model shifts some of this creative risk onto backers. By fronting the money, they climb in the boat with the creator. Ideally, they make a rational calculation about how much they're willing to lose if sinks. (Kickstarter's required disclosures are supposed to help backers make this decision.) And ideally also, the unique personal appeal of the project gives them a good reason to take on that risk. (Kickstarter's required video and other personalizing touches are supposed to help create this solidarity.)
Grimmelmann's is the most useful description of Kickstarter I've ever heard. Without risk (i.e. a real possibility of failure), creative projects aren't creative enough. This is part of the reason that Kickstarter is not a store.
Today I'm launching something new on kottke.org. It's been gestating for a long time, so I'm excited to finally get it out here. It's called Boost and it's an opportunity to promote individual Kickstarter campaigns on kottke.org through sponsored posts.
A week to go and a little short of your goal? Looking to add some of kottke.org's fun and clever bunch of readers to your project's emerging backer community? Reaching for that second stretch goal to provide even more value to your backers? Get your Kickstarter project in front of kottke.org's readers with a Boost for Kickstarter.
The sponsored posts will obviously be clearly marked on the site (and in RSS, on Twitter, etc.) and only one project will be featured each week. And for Kickstarter project creators thinking about buying a Boost, here's an interesting little wrinkle: if your campaign doesn't meet its goal, you don't pay anything for your Boost, just like with Kickstarter. So if you're currently running a KS campaign or have one planned for the future, check out the Boost page and get in touch.
The first Boost will run on the site (and in RSS, Twitter, Facebook, & Tumblr) a little later today and is for a project called Monikers. I contributed slightly to the project and am a backer myself, and I would like to thank Alex for letting me use Monikers as a guinea pig for this new service.
Note: As much as I love their service, neither kottke.org nor the Boost service is endorsed by or affiliated with Kickstarter.
The Flint and Tinder folks are back with another Kickstarter campaign and this time they are selling a hooded sweatshirt with a ten-year warranty. It's a premuim-quality sweatshirt, made entirely in the USA, and if rips or comes apart at the seams in the next ten years, just send it to them and they will mend it and send it back.
The Flint and Tinder team overheard a conversation in a factory we were visiting. Someone was talking about using coarse thread with delicate fabric. Doing this accelerates the process of wearing holes into a garment as it goes through the dryer time and time again.
It's a common trick of the trade. It's one of several techniques companies secretly use to ensure that if you like what you've bought, you'll be forced to replace it soon.
In the manufacturing industry, this is known as "planned obsolescence."
It doesn't have to be this way though -- far from it. Eager to prove a point, send a message, and make a sweatshirt that could last a lifetime (the way your favorite sweatshirt should), we set out to make a premium piece that's so well constructed customers would rather have it mended (free of charge, of course) than replaced.
If Apple launched the iPhone 5 on Kickstarter, it would have been the first $1 billion campaign:
$1.7 billion in sales for a weekend...not bad. I got the rough first-weekend sales numbers from Asymco and fudged the rest.
Flint and Tinder is attempting to reintroduce American-made underwear back into US stores with a Kickstarter project. They've raised $39,000+ so far.
The factory I'm working with is family owned and operated. It's over 100 years old. Just before the recession hit, they moved into a larger facility and invested in some of the capital improvements shown in the video (solar power etc.).
At that time they had 300+ employees and were hoping to double or triple in size. When we started this project however, with the economy in free-fall, they were down to just 90.
They've agreed to learn to make this new, high-end brand of American-made underwear. Here's the fun part though: For ever 1000 pair we sell per month, 1 full-time job has to be added back to the assembly line. Hopefully, with your support, it will help them keep the doors open.
Matt Haughey shares a bad experience he had backing a Kickstarter project and what the project creators could have done to avoid it.
This is the story of the worst project I've funded on Kickstarter. I am posting this not to single out the creators behind it, or bad mouth their business, but to go over my disappointment in the hopes that future Kickstarter project creators can learn from it. It's all about communication with your funders, setting up and delivering on expectations for funders, and doing the right thing when things go wrong.
Shipping a product or app is hard. It requires experience, hard work, and a little luck. But providing effective and genuine customer service might be even harder because you just have sit there, take it, and react well under pressure over and over and over. The entrepreneur side of your brain is saying "this is a great product and I am proud of it and anyone who says otherwise is wrong and I will show them and succeed" and sometimes customer service is acknowledging publicly and repeatedly the exact opposite thing...that the product isn't meeting needs, you are right, we will fix it, and thank you sir may I have another? That's a lot of potential cognitive dissonance! The best teams and companies deflect that dissonance and turn customer service problems into opportunities to improve their products, their teams, and their relationships with their customers (current and potential). That's when the magic happens.
Adrian Hon cites Kickstarter & iPhone clones as evidence that cargo cult thinking is alive and well in the modern age.
Kickstarter isn't the only success to attract cargo cults. Mere months after the iPhone was announced in 2007, a parade of competitors built their own cargo cults around it, hoping that by mimicking the iPhone's design and its characteristic 'apps' they'd attract customers who don't know any better, even if their phones didn't have the same range of apps as Apple, or weren't as fast.