Kickstarter is Not a Store (but there is Another Site for That)
Every child needs to be nurtured, cared for and protected when they are young and vulnerable. Eventually though, they grow up, and must be allowed to walk on their own two feet and succeed or fail on their own terms; eventually the training wheels must come off.
I imagine that the same thing is true about products. Eventually subsidies must end, marketing campaigns must have their budgets reevaluated, and communities need to have all their hopes and dreams realized (or dashed.) Either the buyer at the trade show wants to buy 10,000 units of your labor of love to distribute nationwide, or they don’t. Either your product breezes up the popularity rankings at Amazon in its category or it doesn’t.
I don’t think that a project’s main selling point in the long run should be that it was crowdfunded, but there are those that disagree.
I was chatting with the creator of another successful Kickstarter project the other day, as we do every week or two, and he asked me if I had heard of a little website called outgrow.me. I had, through Reddit several months earlier, but was not nearly as enthusiastic about it as he was. My conversation partner thought it was really interesting that there was a market available for projects post Kickstarter, though he was concerned about how many were being sold at or below the cost featured in the Kickstarter. I was considerably less enthusiastic, and thought it was a diversion at best, and a purveyor of bad habits at worst.
Let’s explore these issues.
Outgrow.me let’s project creators sell their wares post launch! It does, often before they even finish them. You can list projects as pre-order on this site, essentially allowing for a second Kickstarter, often at the same price as you would have paid in the initial offering.
Without Outgrow.me creators would have no where else to turn to! Have you heard of Amazon? The cost putting up your shingle and doing self fulfillment are negligible and the costs of shipping them a pallet of your book/game/t-shirt and letting them do all the work is hardly more. Who do you think gets more traffic, Outgrow.me (Alexia rank 200k) or Amazon.com (Alexia rank 8).
These products need a chance to develop, these aren’t business people! Crowdfunding is, in many ways, angel funding. Angels don’t last forever, and if creators really believe in their idea then they need to pursue it in the wider world, not a boutique crowd funding only specialty store.
This whole line of research does offer an interesting glimpse into projects post crowd funding though, look at Dreadball for example. This miniature sports board game raised nearly three-quarters of a million dollars in its funding period. This was no doubt driven be the urgency of the creators’ message in statements like “Have at it guys, still four and a half hours to go! Please keep spreading the word” in update #80 or “Well, only you and your friends are going to be able to help us find out! 54 hours to go until close, so please keep spreading the news and telling everyone you know (and even those you don’t!) about it and let’s get these goals smashed!” in update #68.
Part of the appeal of crowd funding, is the urgency as the clock ticks down to zero and you either go for it or you don’t. Well, today – right now, you can still pre-order this game (shipping later this month) in at least two venues. Worse, the deals offered both on Mantic’s website, and Outgrow.me are basically the same price point as the early backers on Kickstarter. Sure, you can’t get all the extras offered to the original crowd funding group, but with verbiage like season two and season three packs thrown around, I expect those will be out in expansion packs sooner rather than later.
Large companies using Kickstarter as a pre-order scheme is going to happen, but does the world really need round one and round two pre-orders? It’s shenanigans like this that are make me a skeptical person; that and the tinfoil hat I wear to keep the mind control lasers at bay.
What do the rest of you think? Am I way off base here?