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August 17, 2012

Why I won't ever back another Kickstarter project

Before you start hating on me, consider the following:

1. I've backed five within the past year. Of the five, I've received actual products from two. The other three, well, they no longer return my emails long after they achieved their funding targets and deposited my money in their bank accounts. In my country we call that money for nothing.

2. The two which finally shipped took, respectively, five and eleven (11) months AFTER their stated shipping dates to finally deliver the goods. In the meantime I received a steady stream of excuses and yadda yadda yadda about how much harder it was to actually make a real product than a prototype, etc.

3. Both of the finished products — tech accessories which I won't impugn by name because that's not how I roll, if I don't like something I don't publicly trash it but, rather, prefer to simply ignore it — are of no use to me. Now, in their defense, 99% of the tech accessories I buy fall into the same category: all promise but no useful function for me.

One sits on my nightstand and functions beautifully as a paperweight (although I will say that $90 is way more than I generally pay for a paperweight) while the other I sent to my great friend and technophile Paul Biba because I know he'll like it and find it the cat's pajamas. Hey, diff'rent strokes.

And if you think it's just me being in a cranky mood, hating on Kickstarter like this, you prolly missed Tuesday's USA Today Money section's front page story documenting precisely my complaints along with a number of others.

Yes, I realize "others" is ambiguous in the previous paragraph but on rereading, for once it's correct both ways so I'm letting it stand.

Long story short: If I want to spend money on a tech product that far more likely than not won't be of any use to me, 1) I'd prefer to actually get a chance to try it and 2) I much prefer to find it's useless within days of paying for it rather than months later.

August 17, 2012 at 04:01 PM | Permalink


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i've backed six projects and have received all near the date promised.

The delayed delivery is kind of nice too. Its like getting an unexpected present when they finally arrive.

I've been very happy with all except one — a lovely looking titanium pen that's a joy to hold and use, but which has one fatal flaw.

It is perfectly round so it loves rolling around and the last time it fell to the floor my bare foot was in the way and the point pierced my skin. I've managed to hack that with some Sugru.

Also I think it is a wonderful way to bring great mad dreams to the fore. The obvious duds simply don't make the cut.

Posted by: Allan Moult | Aug 18, 2012 7:53:44 PM

Yeah, I have to agree with Clifyt. Kickstarter is about funding dreams just for the fun of it with no expectation of getting anything back ever - it's a donation even if it's not listed as such. The article you reference says that too, Joe.

Posted by: Pamela Daley | Aug 18, 2012 6:09:53 PM

One of my ancestors made an observation germane to the instant circumstances: "A fool and his money are soon parted.".

Posted by: 6.02*10^23 | Aug 18, 2012 4:38:31 AM

I've lived in HK, manufacturing products in China, for over 20 years. I always chuckle when I read a 3 month delivery on KS.

Posted by: Fred | Aug 18, 2012 12:17:28 AM

I've only backed 2 things with KS...never got anything from them. Never cared to get anything...I was funding something that the developer thought was cool, and I wanted to support their dream. The second one I funded was last week...a friend of mine was looking to get a professional music video for her new album. A few grand later, she is filming it.

Thing you have to do going into KS is to realize that it is a gamble and nothing more. You are gambling on someone else's dream...and hoping they get their dream. If a product doesn't ship, you don't get your product, but they lost their dream.

I'd rather bet on dreams and hope they come true.

Posted by: clifyt | Aug 17, 2012 10:55:36 PM

Interesting and insightful.

I think Kickstarter is a great concept. Traditionally, if you had a product idea you would have to either take a loan on prohibitive terms or arrange with angel investors and venture capitalists to get funding in exchange for (often) onerous terms. Or bootstrap the venture yourself, which is a lot of personal risk.

Kickstarter makes it much easier to get funding, but in some ways that can be bad. Would-be entrepreneurs have less invested in the product, and Kickstarter donors do much less due diligence than angel investors, so the idea is almost certainly poorly fleshed out.

Over 90% of tech startups fail, for a myriad of reasons. The dirty secret that Kickstarter tries to hide is that making it easier for startups to get initial funding will not lower the failure rate, it will simply mean that more doomed products get funding before failing.

At the end of the day, participants in Kickstarter projects are taking less monetary risk than angel investors, but for much less reward as well. And the failure rates are the same.

Posted by: Nathan | Aug 17, 2012 4:43:29 PM

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