Highs and lows of backing Kickstarter projects

Saw a project on Kickstarter that got your adrenaline flowing? Admittedly, I have felt that way many times.

The innovative project with a slick video to boot can sometimes be too great an opportunity to pass. With early bird prices so enticing compared to projected retail price, it doesn’t take rocket science to hit the button and back the project.

After payment, the wait begins. And in a few instances, that can be a long wait. Some companies bother to provide updates and explain the delay — perhaps the need to cope with the unexpectedly high number of orders or their supplier being unable to provide the right quality component. The worst are those companies who go total radio silent and leave backers wondering if they will ever see their order.

Kickstarter has given me both highs and lows.

XD Deisgn backpack.jpgWhen a project is delivered on time and meets the expectations created during the marketing spew, it is a joy. An example is the Bobby Compact backpack by XD Design which my daughter gave as a present to me.

It was exactly as described — compact, water repellent, hidden pockets, and safety strips. One thing I did not test is its anti-cut feature but I’ll just take their word for it.

My expectations were met with this purchase but that’s not the case with another project that I backed. To be fair to the project, I’ll not name it.

Essentially, it’s a multi-purpose jacket that took a long time to arrive (it was way overdue). And when it did, I was disappointed because it looked cheap, like those I would not give a second look to at a bargain shop.

The pockets were as described but when contents are added to the pockets, the jacket is so heavy that it becomes impractical for travel.

So, functionally, it works but it certainly wasn’t anywhere near my expectations in terms of look and usability.

Lessons learnt from my Kickstarter experience:

  1. Do your homework. Some projects look so familiar because others may have already listed similar products. Or worst yet, similar products may be available on retail. So, do your homework and check the web.
  2. Read comments. It pays to read what people are asking and saying about the project. Their opinions may not be gospel truth but at least, it should get you thinking.
  3. Don’t be pressured by time to complete the order. Take time to read the descriptions and watch the video. And if a project is still underwhelming after listing for months, beware because others may know something you don’t.
  4. Calibrate your expectations. The project is on Kickstarter for a reason. Most of the companies are startups without prior manufacturing experience. Their projected timelines may run once orders start coming in.

My conclusion is that Kickstarter projects can be hits or misses. But with due diligence, we may have more hits than misses.


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