Kickstarter is not a store

Recently there have been a lot of disillusionment about a series of successfully backed Kickstarter projects who failed to ship. Therefor Kickstarter decide to clarify their position and enforce a new series of rules especially targeted to physical product.

It’s hard to know how many people feel like they’re shopping at a store when they’re backing projects on Kickstarter, but we want to make sure that it’s no one. Today we’re introducing a number of changes to reinforce that Kickstarter isn’t a store.

While the Risks and Challenges section is a correct move, I have mixed feelings about the new measures for Hardware and Product Design projects. Surely demanding a working prototype is a step in the right direction, but completely prohibit the 3D rendering is a poor choice. And neither of this help backers to understand if the product they are going to support can be realistically manufactured.

Working prototype

A working prototype is a necessary step for the creators to figure out how o produce a real product out of their amazing concept. But it’s not enough to assure the backers that it’s actually possible produce the same product in large quantity, leveraging industrial facilities, neither it’s a good estimation of the real production costs—which can also vary by a significant amount based on the number of peaces that are going to be manufactured.

Especially for complicated products that require a combination of different technologies and draconian manufacturing and distribution lines1.

Renderings and simulations

The case against rendering is a complete non sense to me. Simulations and renderings are powerful tools for creators both to design and iterate the product and to show the backers what the product it’s going to look like and the possible colors and trim customizations.

Is founding cap an option?

An interesting point Kickstarter raise in their post is to fix to one the amount of quantities that a project can offer to a single backer.

Offering multiple quantities of a reward is prohibited. Hardware and Product Design projects can only offer rewards in single quantities or a sensible set

This kind of choice make sense considering that over a certain amount of product to produce it could become necessary to reconsider the entire manufacturing line—that could not be convenient probably till a new order of magnitude is reached—and keep manufacturing the product using a line produced for smaller quantity is not always possible or desirable.

This kind of consideration also open the road to another possibility, a founding cap. Clearly this is not something Kickstarter should force to the product, most of the projects founded don’t have real issues with over founding, but could be a nice option that the creators can decide to adopt.

Even better would be to have progressive founding goals; it’s quite a common practice, for creators, to promise increased sets of features based on the amount of money (over the initial founding goal) the project manage to raise2. Kickstarter could officially support this kind of initiative by charging late bakers only when the next goal is reached.

  1. I do honestly doubt that the Ouya will ship in time for Mar 2013. 

  2. The Planetary Annihilation project had an interesting take on this, adding game enhancements and orchestral sound track.