Rethinking Crowd Funding
Is it time to abandon Kickstarter and Indiegogo?
For nearly a decade, the irresistible promise of funds in advance has driven entrepreneurs and artists to Kickstarter and Indiegogo. I've done three Kickstarters and found the process to be a fantastic way to focus: it's like launching a business with everything running at such speed that what typically takes place over two to three years is compressed into two to three months. Now, as Invention City is planning to launch 6 new products itself, I'm questioning whether or not Kickstarter/Indiegogo is the right way to go.
Consider that to succeed on Kickstarter you must:
- Create your own presentation
- Establish your own credibility
- Bring your own audience
- Give up 10% of your funds (approx)
In return you get:
- A page on Kickstarter.com
- Association with the Kickstarter brand
- The possibility that Kickstarter editors will promote you.
Indiegogo is pretty much the same.
The Kickstarter project page appears on Kickstarter.com and on the off chance people search for a project like yours, your project will be found. The page itself is a mediocre template that's frustrating to set up and not nearly as nice as what you get from Squarespace or Wix.
Kickstarter brand association is a warm fuzzy blanket; it feels nice and others will feel your niceness. This is less true of Indiegogo which has the feel of a stainless steel BBQ grill. Both crowdfunding platforms give unknown creators a degree of credibility. But primary credibility must still be established by you and your niceness (or lack thereof) will ultimately shine through regardless of the platform.
Before it appears live, your Kickstarter project is reviewed and approved by editors. If editors think your project is cool, it may appear early in its run on Kickstarter's home page or at the top of a category page. Since Kickstarter gets a lot of traffic, having a project on the home page can have a HUGE impact on success. But getting on the home page is rare and should not be counted on. Your project gets extra notice from the editors if you bring a lot of your own traffic. In fact, for both Kickstarter and Indiegogo the number #1 key to success is to bring your own backers. You must not count on the crowd funding platform to provide an audience for your project. You must plan on doing that yourself.
Presentation, credibility and audience are all the responsibility of the project creator. So I ask myself, what, really, does Kickstarter or Indiegogo provide that I'm not already going to do myself? I think the answer is, not enough.
Stay tuned. Invention City's next crowdfunding project may be hosted by Invention City itself.
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