Kickstarter, for those who’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, is one of the hottest start-ups this side of the Sun. Through it, everyone from your neighbor to the biggest names in art, science, and the wildly creative can post a project, and provided it’s good enough (or at least not boring), people from all over the world can donate, crowd=funding the project(s) to fruition and getting some nice bonuses for their trouble. Sometimes, though, things don’t turn out as planned. To take a trip down Kickstarter’s own fevered branch of Memory Lane, and thus learn more about what happens when it all goes pear-shaped in cyberspace, just keep reading.
Memento Mori – or at Least Your Mortgage Payments
Ed Carter used to love board games. That emotion is probably rather muted now, what with his own offering in the area costing him his house, his job, and no small portion of his sanity. Carter’s Glory To Rome deluxe edition stirred up a lot of interest; donations totaled almost $75,000, but things began to turn sour when sets failed to ship to the 1600 customers who donated. Even so, shipping mishaps, an ill-timed laying off from his job, and even bankruptcy couldn’t stand in the way of his ultimate goal – Carter subsequently delivered on his promise, adding a silver lining to an otherwise bleak tale.
“What a Flop!”: The Story of Vere Sandals
This next example of an ill-fated Kickstarter campaign has all the ingredients of an up by the bootstraps feel-good movie: Two life-long friends with a dream raise a truckload of money, and with stars in their eyes, set out to turn that dream into a reality. Unfortunately, that’s when the trouble starts. An utter lack of prior planning spelled almost immediate disaster for Michael Ferreri and John Eades, not to mention their 1000+ backers. Mechanical failures, labor shortages, and a simple lack of organization and logistical know-how put Vere Flip-Flops a year behind schedule, and their creators in the hot seat. Luckily for the duo, however, things eventually turned a corner, and like Ed Carter before them, they began to sell their wares in shops all across the nation this year.
Keey Your “Eyez” Peeled for Scams
The third tale in this little triptych of ill intent in the saddest, because it would appear that in contrast to the other two stories outlined above, the creators of Eyez virtual glasses are nothing more than a couple of frauds. More than two thousand backers rased more than three hundred thousand dollars toward the project, which promised leading-edge, Google Glass-esque immersive eyewear. Time would prove, however, that in the case of this project at least, promises are easily made, and even more easily thrown aside. Nearly two years after their promised winter 2011 delivery date, not only have the glasses not materialized, but the creators themselves have vanished in a puff of smoke, presumably to the same place as their ill-gotten pile of loot.
Murmurs of legal action surround the skeleton of the failed project, but it’s doubtful if anything will happen. Kickstarter, after all, is quite up-front with their caveat emptor, no refunds policy.
Kickstarter, contrary to what you may now believe after reading this piece, can be a fantastic vehicle for change and the common good. But if there’s one take-away message to be found here, it’s to keep your wits about you before you decide to fund someone’s Next Big Thing™. Kickstarter can be awesome funders and fund-ees alike, regardless of size or scope. With that in mind, have fun, but be wary, because it can also turn into a kick in the teeth if you aren’t careful.
About the Author: Joyce Francisco is currently blogging for Startup Valley. She enjoys blogging about crowdfunding trends, news and stories.