After unimaginitive card decks and celebrities launching projects to raise money they don’t actually need, the coolest thing on Kickstarter is relaunching a failed project. It happens all the time. Good projects get relaunched and tweaked to bad projects get put back up in the hope they can inch a little closer to the finish line. The record I have seen is a project relaunch three times (and fail to fund 4.)
Intrinsically, there is nothing wrong with this. There are many good reasons why a project might get relaunched. They might have made the rewards too expensive, or had a poor pitch video for an otherwise good project. It happens more often than you think.
Sometimes projects relaunch for the wrong reasons – that is what I would like to discuss this morning.
Rich Nelson is the poster child for game relaunches. Last week he launched his 6th project. Those 6 launches consist of iterations of 3 actual projects, only one of which has actually funded. Hey – if at first you don’t succeed, right? It took three tries before his board game, Storm the Castle funded to the tune of nearly a hundred thousand dollars. I guess persistence does pay. I followed the second 2 iterations of that campaign closely, and came close to contributing before ultimately deciding to spend my crowdfunding dollars elsewhere. I don’t see anything wrong with his multiple attempts on the project though, as he refined his approach each time.
In May, Rich attempted to fund a project called Mimic Miniatures. At the time I described it in a post as “Ahead of is time? A bridge too far? I can’t decide. This project wants to sell you a customized mini that has your face on it. Seriously. Take a look – it is creepy and cool, all at the same time.” It was unique as far as I could tell in that it wanted to print a customized mini. Ultimately it failed, achieving only 1/6th of its goal, but I thought the idea showed promise.
I take it back.
Rich recently relaunched his project in a nearly identical fashion, save one major change: he has changed the funding amount from the 30k he previously thought he realistically need to succeed down to 5k; I’m sure the fact that that was the same amount as the money he left on the previous launch had nothing to do with the change. His FAQ helpfully said that the change was due to the fact that he was able to reduce costs. Messages sent to him on the subject were met with dismissive responses to read the FAQ, and then a long winded no comment, where he said “We don’t feel it an obligation to itemize our costs/price/expense structure in detail on our page – sufficient to say we were able to take the time between projects to work out a structure that allowed us to do this.” All I wanted to know was what changed – I didn’t need a spreadsheet.
First – if a prospective backer asks you questions about your project – ‘I’m not telling’ might be the worst possible answer.
Second – if you only need 5k, and it’s not to buy any hardware necessary for the project (the FAQ helpfully says he already has a 3d printer) then why do you need to kickstart the project – it sounds like a print on demand affair – the more you print, the more it costs. The is selling, not funding – it’s product placement, not project support. Why not simply open a store on EBay or Amazon and offer this service.
Though right now we associate the idea of print on demand with books, I imagine we will see more Kickstarter projects over the next couple years that fall squarely in this category. The technology is getting cheaper all the time, but perhaps not quite 83% cheaper between the two project launches. I like the idea of this project but it has three strikes solidly against it: it asks for money it doesn’t need (I suspect the creator could just as easily have set the project goal for $25,) It makes a major change to the goal amount with any explanation, and the creator is evasive when politely questioned about the two previous points.
This is just another example to me that Kickstarter is on a downhill slide – it seems more like a fleamarket than a source of venture capital with each passing month.