Kickstartin’ Like a Pack of Crowd-Funding Ninjas

ninja working at desk

Nosey slash nagging wife asleep? Ninja jammies equipped? Logged onto Kickstarter? Check. Check. Andddd check.

     Greetings Nerd Consumers of the Free Market Economy!  It’s been just over a year since I cannonballed into the Kickstarter pool. I thought it might be an interesting exercise to blog about some lessons learned in my foray into the world of crowd-funding.

     As a nerd collector/hoarder/gamer/reader/acquirer-of-stuff, I was pretty psyched to discover Kickstarter.  I tend to jump into things with both feet and that’s probably a good way to describe my KS experience.  Since April of 2013, I’ve backed a total of 63 projects. Here’s a status/outcome breakdown:

TOTAL PROJECTS BACKED:                       63
TOTAL PROJECTS DELIVERED:                  30
TOTAL PROJECTS PENDING:                      22

     Of the twenty-two pending successful projects (where I’m awaiting my merchandise, swag, etc.), thirteen of them are late.  That range of tardiness falls between one and nine months past due. A good number of the delivered projects were late but I haven’t bothered to figure out an average. I got what I paid for so I’m not complaining. And I don’t really mind the lateness for most of the thirteen that are currently behind schedule–with two exceptions.

     Which brings me to the number one lesson I’ve learned from my foray into crowd-funding: Sooner or later, if you back enough projects, you’re going to get screwed.

     In my case, the screwage has come from two projects.  Money was paid but no product has been (or will apparently ever be) delivered. I’m not going to name the projects since my monetary loss is relatively low ($30 and $8, respectively) and I tend to rely on karmic payback, or as my grandpa use to say, “What comes around, goes around.”

     That being said, I’m not exactly happy about it.  One of the DOA projects is one I hyped on this very blog. I think I’ve warned folks on most of my KS-related posts that “you pays your money, you takes your chances.”  Well, these dudes proved my point. In fairness to these guys, I did receive the “stretch goal” that was offered in that particular campaign. For some unknown reason, the project organizers decided to ship that out before the actual project goal was complete and ready for delivery.  It seemed like an odd choice (paying x2 postage) but I took it as a sign of good faith. Now, it’s been 5 months since the last update (which was a, “we’re just about done” type of thing). Nothing but dead air since then.

     I e-mailed them a couple of weeks ago, politely asking for an update but that was ignored. An admittedly snarky comment on the project page a few days ago has also received no response.




     My other DOA project is a deck of playing cards for which I paid $8.  The creator has basically come on the project page and admitted he underestimated production and shipping costs and therefore is having to find other means of paying for postage–mowing lawns or pet sitting, I guess. The original delivery date was November of 2013 and while he allegedley has the card decks, he just can’t/won’t ship them.  Some backers are asking him to send them C.O.D. but I haven’t bothered. Meh.

      The above leads me to lesson number two.  You know those “estimated delivery” dates on each backer pledge level?  There should be an “ish” suffix added to each and every one.

     Let’s look at the phrase, “estimated delivery.” Key word? “Estimated.” Kickstarter should hot link that word on every project page to Merriam-Webster’s definition of the word, because clearly some backers don’t get it.

     There are KS backers who go into full-on Troll Mode if a project is one day past due. Seriously. Even babies get a bigger arrival window than these goons give a project creator. Personally, I take a “fire & forget” view with pretty much all of the projects I back.  Of course, that outlook on life is probably inversely proportional to the dollars I’ve pledged to a particular project. That deck of cards I mentioned?  Eight bucks isn’t gonna break me. The money I have tied up in Reaper’s Bones II miniatures (which, to be clear, is still right on schedule)?  Now there, I’m a bit less forgiving. And as I write that, I’m reminded of something seemingly related here.

     One criticism you frequently hear/see about Kickstarter is (use your whiny-baby voice here), “Kickstarter should only be for small start-up companies and individuals, not big, established companies who only use it as a pre-order system.”  The same whiners will then be the first to piss and moan when their project rewards are a few months late.

     Well guess what–it’s the small start-ups and individuals who are basically pulling delivery estimates out of their you-know-wheres that tend to have the late deliveries.  Not to say larger, “established” companies aren’t late, but I’d bet that, as a group, they tend to be more timely in delivering the goods.

      But all this begs the question, “At what point does ‘late‘ morph into ‘it probably ain’t gonna happen?‘”  Well, the Attorney General of Washington State can answer that one for us. The Interwebs have been all abuzz recently with news that the Honorable Bob Ferguson has filed a Consumer Protection Act lawsuit against the company behind a playing card project that funded to the tune of $25K but then failed to deliver.  Apparently somebody’s about to find out that taking people’s dough and not delivering Der Swag is frowned upon.  Some people even call it stealing.

     And while I’m on the subject, check out the now infamous (among wargamer nerds at least) Up Front project that collected $340,000 in January of 2013, hasn’t delivered squat and probably never will.  The project creator (did I mention his other good luck ever seeing this” KS project?) is snarled in a legal battle that has those KS funds tied up and apparently he’s now moved to Australia.  The comment board on the project page is full of some seriously pissed-off people.  Which is understandable given many  pledged multiple hundreds of dollars (and a few poor guys pledged thousands!) I’d be on a tear as well if I was in the same boat. Heck, I’d probably be on a fast train to Australia with a sand-filled Wiffle bat looking for some payback!

     Well, Pizza Rolls beckon so I’ll wrap up for now. Until next time…Stay nerdy my friends.

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