How Kickstarter Has Let its Backers Down

Kickstarter has been one of the most famous crowdfunding platforms from almost a decade, providing support to hundreds of projects that are unable to find the necessary backing through traditional means.

People (or backers) who take interest in a certain project pledge any amount of money for its successful execution. Once a project is successfully executed, the backers receive either the exclusive product or certain other acknowledgements depending upon the amount you have pledged. Cool right?

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Wrong! Kickstarter did actually start off as an innovative and reliable crowdfunding platform, however, from last few years the website has not been giving such a ‘happily ever after’ scenario to a huge crowd of backers who fund the ideas.

From casual supporters, who just want to be a part of something interesting, to serial crowdfunders, backers are a major reason for Kickstarter’s success. Even so, the platform has not been coming up to their expectations lately and in the write-up that follows, I will discuss the reasons Kickstarter is causing to let its backers down.

Not every project is a work of genius

Anti-radiation underwear – to protect your sperms from harmful radiations, PetPhone – a music player for pets, Combat Kitchenware – epic frying pans for legendary meals, South Paw Protector – protector for left-handed people to avoid ink stains, and Potato Salad – that’s basically just potato salad…

These are some of the many projects that have been featured at Kickstarter, which are far from being useful, let alone be called genius inventions.

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No doubt Kickstarter has also given us some of the coolest inventions of our time, from the world’s best Travel Jacket and unique video game consoles to precision cookers and a whole series of super awesome smart watches. Unfortunately however, the number of utterly stupid projects is also very high.

How such projects don’t get combed out of the website’s selection process is still a mystery. But I will heavily blame it on the lose selection criteria and very generic set of rules that allow fundraising for “anything that can be shared with others, be clearly presented or doesn’t come under charity”, and that literally means ANYTHING.

What you see, may not be what you get

One can expect ‘what you see, may not be what you get’ kind of thing from a cheap seller on an e-commerce platform, however, Kickstarter, being one of the biggest platforms of quality innovation, can’t also be an exception to that.

Take the instance of a backer who shared his experience with Kickstarter’s Jorno keyboard. The project promised a tiny 3.5 x 3.5 x 1.2 inches, 5 way folding pocketable keyboard, but it turned out to be a pretty large device which was certainly not pocketable (if it somehow was, one would have needed quite big pockets for that).

In this case, I would blame the super cool professional looking videos that the innovators feature with their potential products, as one of the biggest elements of deception. These make-believe visuals and graphics are enticing enough to secure funding from hundreds of backers.

But once the product is actually delivered to them, in many instances, people were taken aback by their low quality as compared to what they saw in picture and videos.

I’m not saying that a product cannot lose its original look, especially when a prototype goes through the unpredictable process of manufacturing, some of its particularities do change. However, here too, is a matter of keeping up with the ethics and keeping your backers in the loop of any new information that concerns the thing they showed their confidence in.

‘Expected time of Delivery’ is just a formality

With every Kickstarter project, there is an ‘expected time of delivery’ that can range from a few months to more than a year, but not every project shows enthusiasm to meet this deadline.

A study conducted independently in 2015 on Delivery Dates of Kickstarter by University of Pennsylvania, which has also been published on Kickstarter, highlights that 1 in every 10 projects fails to deliver in time.

expected-time-of-deliveryexpected-time-of-delivery

In many instances even the most generously funded projects at Kickstarter have failed to catch up with their expected date of delivery. A study by CNNMoney vouches for this fact by examining the 50 most-funded Kickstarter projects to see which shipped on time, and according to it a total of 84% of the highly funded projects go beyond their actual deadline in product deliverance.

Though it is quite understandable that when it comes to production and manufacturing, delays are inevitable, and if a project eventually delivers to its investors, the delay can be overlooked, however if this practice keeps recurring in every other project, a large number of backers may become uncomfortable and mistrusting towards the platform.

Products often vanish into thin air

There have been so many cases when a Kickstarter project has received the required funding (even a lot more than the initial requirement in some cases) however, after some time the projects go completely missing in action.

Take for instance, Pirate 3D Inc, a 3D printer that started its Kickstarter campaign in 2013 and managed to raise approximately $1.5 million with the help of 3250 ambitious backers. However, according to reports, the product was delivered to only 40% of the backers, and for the rest of 60% there was only a vague explanation and absolutely no refund.

And who can forget COOLEST Cooler, rightfully dubbed as the King of Kickstarter, that raised $13 million funding from thousands of backers, however unfortunately, even after two years of the launching of its campaign it has not been able to deliver the promised product to all its backers. And the worst part of the continued failure of this campaign is that the cooler is available on Amazon for anyone to buy.

One of the best things Kickstarter was hailed for is its simplicity, however, the same thing is now turning into its worst. Although, the website has a long page on things like Accountability and Terms of Use, even so, it does not ensure refunds and has no mechanism to do so.

Now a few words in support of Kickstarter

After having said all that, I feel kind of guilty of not putting forward some points that speak from Kickstarter’s side of the fence. So, here it is.

Kickstarter has, no doubt, given a chance to everyone of being a mini Medici, an ability to support big and small creative projects across the globe with just a few mouse clicks. No wonder they have millions of users and a popularity that is rapidly growing with each day.

Also, as a backer you have to keep in mind that investing in an innovative project involves risks, as it has always been like that since the time of history’s greatest innovators, and that on crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, you support the attempt, more than the final product.

However, the cases that I’ve mentioned above are also a matter of concern. So, to give out a humble suggestion, I think that if the platform tightens the scrutiny of the campaigns, and ensures regular updates from campaign owners to the backers, such scams can be somewhat lessened (if not completely stopped), before more and more people lose their trust in creativity and innovation.

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