I’m a huge proponent of Kickstarter: I think it’s a great site that delivers some great ideas to the public. I’ve written about the site and even defended some of its more controversial uses. All this plus writing about technology and video games adds up to my getting five or six very nice emails from very nice people who want me to either cover their product or invest in it.
And the answer is almost always no. Here’s why.
It’s Part Of Some Stupid Site-Wide Fad
Kickstarter is as prone to fads as any subculture, but the problem is that those fads are particularly visible on the site, and those propagating them are particularly disingenuous about what made them decide that we all suddenly needed to see the codpiece return to men’s fashion design or yet another damn iPhone wallet. The joy of crowdfunding is that things that are unique can get made, not to churn out knock-offs. If you want to make derivative crap, at least be honest.
There’s No Photos Of The Product
This is an enormous alarm bell. There’s no reason to trust that somebody who hasn’t even put together a prototype can actually deliver the object in question. Engineering a product is difficult, to say the least. And not having a working prototype raises a few questions, like, when you make the prototype, will it actually work?
Your Rewards Don’t Include The Product
While Zach Braff, Rob Thomas and Spike Lee have every right to use Kickstarter to raise money for their movies, by the same token, if I can pay $15 and not get the product, or wait and get the same thing for less money… what, precisely, do you think I’m going to do? This is especially egregious for products where the entire selling point is really the novelty of it; far too many people ask for far too much for an impulse purchase.
To Spike’s credit, you at least get to see the movie once for twenty bucks. On your laptop. But again, if I want to see it so much, why not just spend $10 at a theater?
You’re Way, Way, WAY Too Vague
While I’m picking on Spike Lee, I might as well point out that his video spends a lot of time talking about how awesome he is and how he’s going to be great for Kickstarter, and almost no time whatsoever on what his movie is going to be about. He even says that this is a deliberate choice. It literally doesn’t have a title yet. If you can’t even cough up a basic description beyond “It’s about people who are addicted to blood but aren’t vampires”, why would you pay for that?
It’s worse with products, though. Yes, there does need to be some secrecy to keep your idea from being stolen
“$3 Gets You Access To Our Exclusive Forums/Newsletter/Email Blast!”
F*** you. No, really. F*** you. If I want to chat about your product with people, there are literally billions of places to do that, on the Internet, for free. Similarly, asking somebody to pay you to send them an email is like trying to monetize breathing. I understand that “every dollar counts”, but make an effort to be creative, for God’s sake. Give them a unique GIF, or a sticker, or something.