Back in 2018 a friend of mine introduced me to Kickstarter. To be honest I wasn't really sure it was something I was going to be interested in but fast forward to today and I have been involved in crowdfunding over 100 projects and so I thought I would share my experience and what I have learned.
So firstly, what is Kickstarter and why should you care? Kickstarter is a crowd funding platform - what's that I hear you ask! Crowd funding is where a project is funded by members of the public rather than by the more traditional funding routes. Something that is really made practical by the internet. This usually takes the form of someone outlining a product they would like to produce, seeking a total sum to make it happen and asking people to contribute money in the expectation that they will receive the product. Kickstarter is a platform for crowd funding (other crowd funding platforms are available!). The projects seeking crowd funding are many and varied; and the people launching these project range from individuals with new inventions to companies trying to assess customer interest before manufacturing. My particular interest has been in the area of wargames figures and board games. Making miniatures and board games is expensive and traditionally the upfront costs and uncertainty of demand has constrained the production of new and less mainstream products.
My first Kickstarter which funded at the end of 2018 was UBOOT: The Board Game
a co-operative four player simulation of a U-boat which combined a board, a 3D cardboard submarine and an app.
I have always had an interest in submarine warfare and so this grabbed my attention straight away but I vacillated a lot before risking backing it. Which leads me onto a key thing about crowd funding.
Whilst Kickstarter and the other crowd funding platforms may look like a shop front and a way of pre-ordering products - they aren't. Your pledge (the money you contribute to back the project) is wholly at risk - you may not receive anything and you will have little recourse, if any. But if you are prepared to accept that risk and do a little due diligence there are some really interesting opportunities to help bring new projects into being.
The other key thing, along with an appetite for risk, that you will need is patience. Many projects are delayed in the process and you may have to wait a lot longer than the estimated delivery date before you see whatever it is you backed.
As to due diligence, I would always suggest checking a creator's track record - have they delivered previous projects successfully and what was the feedback from previous backers. Will the product be coming to retail and once you factor in VAT, shipping etc. will it be available cheaper. Are the kickstarter exclusive elements or general bling worth it? There's no one right answer and crowd funding is certainly not for everyone but I have added several figures and board games to my collections that wouldn't have existed without it.
I plan to share some of my specific projects in separate blog posts assuming anyone is interested!