Kickstarter: The good, the bad and the unsuccessful.

I found kickstarter a year and a half ago. Since then I’ve backed 45 projects.
Of those 45, 2 were canceled prematurely, 4 were unsuccessful, 37 went through and 2 are currently still active.

I’ve received 26 of the backed projects so far. Some of the companies have done multiple KSs and if I receive the product within the time frame they say then I’m more willing to back their next projects. I’ve noticed that I’ve received more KS products from the ones I’ve backed within the last 6 months then from the ones I backed 18 months ago. I’m still waiting on some of the first KSs I backed, a few with no message updates being sent out and the comments full of people getting more and more upset as time passes. I’ve given up on a few of the projects and have written them off as lessons learned for the future.
I’ve had some really great experiences with products on KS, some companies have put ‘Pay what you want’ for various games and such and I’ve funded all of their products just because they don’t gouge, they deliver on promises in a timely manner and they keep their backers involved through the whole process.

Speaking of backer communication, it’s becoming more prevalent that companies are cross promoting products of other companies on KS. It started out innocently enough, with a company here and there sending a message out to their backers to check out another cool related project. But within the last few months I find my inbox crowded with cross promoting messages from KSs I’ve funded (to ones that aren’t even remotely related sometimes). Even more annoying is because I’ve funded KSs I’m signed up to dozens of mailing lists from these companies. Every day I get inundated with messages from them that they also cross-post on KS, so I get double. I’ve missed filling out a few backer kits because my inbox is flooded with KS spam that is irrelevant to me and just takes up space.
Something else that I’ve noticed happening is the content of the pledges being changed after the project is funded. For instance, I backed a video game that had different tiers for which system you wanted it on. I wanted the 3ds version because I didn’t own the other consoles. A few months after funding was complete they cut the 3ds version of the game, effectively screwing over any backers who pledged at that tier.

KS is a great platform for getting projects funded that may not otherwise get the go ahead. However there is a healthy amount of skepticism and common sense that needs to be involved on the level of the backer. Think long and hard before you fund something on KS. I got carried away when I first discovered KS and while it has yielded some great finds, it has also opened my eyes to trusting less and researching more.

Things to consider before backing something (no matter how cool it seems): If you see a person/company who has multiple KSs open and doesn’t have one that’s been successfully completed and fulfilled, be cautious. Check to see how many projects this person has backed themselves. Look into their previous campaigns, if the same one has been opened and canceled multiple times, then something in their process isn’t working right. If they’ve completed a few KSs with none fulfilled, then be very wary.

If they’ve completed and fulfilled multiple KSs with mostly good comments from backers then that’s a good sign it’s well organized. If this seems to be their first KS project, then it’s really a crapshoot. Look at the layout of their KS page, is it well-designed? Informative? Are the rewards clear? Are they transparent about where the money will go? Do they respond to backer questions in the comments?
Something else to consider is if the project is original. Is there a possible copyright/patent infringement that could come up with another company? Legal troubles can stall the product getting to you or shutdown the whole company.

I still search KS on a weekly basis for different and useful products, but it takes a lot for me to fund a project now. Take the time to do your research and you can still end up with some really innovative products, while protecting yourself (and your pocketbook) in the process.

Comments

Kersus's picture

Very nicely written. I've had some similar experiences and my Kickstarter-Fu is getting better. Well, I hope it is. Some of my personal experiences are at and there is another forum with a similar and more active thread at

A few days after writing this, a KS I funded went bankrupt, another has run into copyright issues and another is holding products hostage until they get more money.

I ended up cancelling the open KS's I was funding and have decided to take a Kickstarter break for a while.

A KS that was fulfilled a few months ago just sent a shipping + handling invoice that is grossly inflated. They used the excuse of the stretch goals being the reason for the increased postage. As one astute project backer said...backers got the word out to get the project funded and in return got zinged in the wallet.

A $100 pledge has ended up costing $156. That's ludicrous, and there are many backers who agree.

I'm seriously considering boxing up the package I received and sending it back. It's not a good way to get return business.

Kersus's picture

It's not altogether new but ebay put practices in place to moderate people from skewing the shipping and handling. Kickstarter isn't likely to do that.

Most KS I've dealt with have included the shipping in the pledge. It's an easy matter and it's not like shipping changes dramatically with the market each day.

Sometimes it may just be ignorance over brokerage fees but other times it's gouging. An unfortunate reality.