How to Crowdfund Your Dream: Checking In on the WWW Kickstarter Fund

12/7/12Follow @wroush

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space out my updates, e-mails, Facebook posts, tweets, etc….There were days that I was really nervous, but I knew I couldn’t force it. I’ve seen a lot of people go way too crazy with their Kickstarter push. Nothing can burn online bridges faster.”

Ultimately, if your project is worthy, you’ll get quite a bit of traffic directly from Kickstarter, which does a good job of showcasing promising projects on its Discover pages. ”I’m impressed how much traffic comes from Kickstarter itself,” says Owen. “Our product is pretty niche—you have to be on Kickstarter, a biker, an urban biker, an urban biker who understands difficulties of riding in the city, and an urban biker willing to take apart part of your bike to install this thing. I’m impressed that Kickstarter was able to find anyone at all.”

Setting the Right Fundraising Goal

Everyone knows the old edict “Underpromise and overdeliver.” On Kickstarter, I think the byword should usually be “Under-ask and over-raise.” In general, the projects in my fund that achieved and surpassed their goals were the ones asking for the least money. Menswear startup Pistol Lake, for instance, asked for $5,000 and has racked up more than $45,000 in pledges so far.

But this can be a tricky business. You don’t want to lower your goals so far that you wind up with too little money to deliver on your promises. “Often, the folks who create Kickstarter campaigns (especially in Technology and Product Development) don’t understand how much it costs and how long it takes to mass-manufacture a product,” says Zach Supalla, the creator of the Spark Wi-Fi-enabled light socket. “And that’s why you see so many products delivering late or not at all. In my perspective, the absolute worst place to be is one where you took money from your backers and then realized that you don’t have enough to actually deliver on your promise.”

Supalla says Spark set an ambitious fundraising goal on Kickstarter—$250,000—because that’s how much much money the company really needs to finish the product by its self-imposed deadline of July 2013. He says he might have calculated differently if he’d known that Kickstarter was about to change its rules to prohibit teams from giving away multiple units of a product as a reward. “If we could sell 2-packs, 3-packs, 4-packs, etc. we would have already hit our goal,” Supalla says. Still, he says, “I’d rather miss the goal than set a lower goal and not be able to deliver the product.”

And even if the campaign doesn’t ultimately succeed, Supalla says, “the visibility and publicity we got with the campaign has opened a lot of doors, and we hope we’ll still be able to deliver the product by financing it through other means. And the fact that 1,400 people lined up and put their credit cards down for our product even though it wouldn’t be delivered for 8 months is exactly the sort of traction that investors want to see, regardless of the outcome of the campaign.”

Now for a formal tally of the 13 projects in the World Wide Wade Kickstarter Fund, with details on where each one stands.


Bright Ideas Kickstarter Project

Bright Ideas: A Crowdfunding Almanac

Project Deadline: Nov. 23

Goal: $25,000

Status: UNSUCCESSFUL ($14,970 pledged)

Bright Ideas is a project to compile a book highlighting successful Kickstarter projects. Ironically, it didn’t generate quite enough interest within the Kickstarter community to meet its fundraising goal. But the project’s creators say they won’t be deterred. “You will be seeing Bright Ideas coming back in the near future,” they promised in a final note to supporters. “Next time we will be more specific on the contents of the book and more intentional on marketing. Along with the interviews we have already compiled we will be acquiring more, making sure that there is something for everyone.”


The Leapyear Project Book on Kickstarter

The Leapyear Project Book

Project Deadline: Nov. 29

Goal: $29,200

Status: FUNDED ($31,049 collected)

This book is essentially about creative ways to invent, or reinvent, your career. Project creator Victor Saad plans to chronicle the year he spent doing month-long internships at 12 different organizations. When the project hit its fundraising goal last week, Saad posted an update for supporters saying that his mom “was so ecstatic to hear the news that she invited all of you to dinner at our home in Missouri.”


The Looking Planet project on Kickstarter

The Looking Planet—An Animated Short Film

Project Deadline: Nov. 13

Goal: $18,000

Status: UNSUCCESSFUL ($8,417 pledged)

This delightful computer-generated short is about a planet-building alien. The campaign failed to reach its fundraising goal on Kickstarter, but creator Eric Law Anderson says that won’t mean the end of the project. “I am pretty determined to finish the film any way I can,” he says in an update to backers. “I’m not giving up. Not a jot.” For one thing, he’s accepting donations directly through PayPal.


Mothership Hackermoms on Kickstarter

Mothership HackerMoms

Project Deadline: Nov. 18

Goal: $10,000

Status: FUNDED ($12,564 collected)

MotherShip HackerMoms is a hackerspace for moms in Berkeley, CA. Its marketing director, Karen Agresti, calls it “a haven for women to prosper as artists, makers, hackers, inventors, entrepreneurs and mothers too.” It used its successful Kickstarter campaign to raise money for equipment and classes.

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Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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