What to Look for in a Kickstarter or Indiegogo Project

Kickstarter and IndiegogoSites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are changing the business of product development and funding. Venture capitalists or angel investors are no longer a requirement for taking a product from prototype to store shelves. Crowdfunding is enabling people to invest in products they’d like to see become a reality in return for early access, exclusive editions, and/or a bargain on the item in question.

Unfortunately, not every crowdfunded project lives up to expectations. Often, these projects ship later than expected (roughly 75%) and sometimes the actual product doesn’t quite match what you’re shown in the pitch video. Why is that?

Well, the answer is a bit complex. Sometimes the fault is in the hands of the project founder, but often it’s just one of those facts of industry only the most experienced product developers know how to avoid.

So how do you set yourself up for success on Kickstarter or Indiegogo? How do you identify the projects that are most likely to deliver on promises made? Here are some tips.

Look into the History of the Project Founder

Take a look into the history of the project founders. This might include taking a look at the official website or reading reviews about them online. Their history on these networks might also help you identify red flags before you throw down your hard-earned cash for something that hasn’t actually been made yet.

I tend to look for project founders who have either had successful projects in the past (and delivered with positive response) or funded projects themselves. Chances are, if someone has been a member of the crowdfunding community for a while, the likelihood of them purposely deceiving that community is much lower. Likewise, a good delivery in the past means the individual or group has been through the process before and knows what to expect from backers.

Does the Pitch Video Convince You?

I’m a big advocate for putting some emphasis of quality into pitch videos. If a pitch video doesn’t absolutely convince me that this team is capable of delivering on the promise of the project, my likelihood for backing drops considerably. I need to know who will be working to make this project come to life, and whether or not the product can actually do what the founders claim it will.

If the pitch video is sloppy and unrehearsed, then there’s a good chance the product will also be sloppy and underwhelming.

Frequent Changes to Design and/or Deliverables

If you frequent either of these sites, you’ve probably seen a few projects that have frequent changes to the front page in terms of the product features, donation tiers, and deliverables for backers. This is a sign of disorganization and a project that jumped the gun to launch before a solid plan was put in place.

Would you invest in a product that may or may not end up being what you put your initial donation down for? I don’t think so, and it’s these types of last-minute changes that make so many projects turn into duds.

Prototypes Matter

Never throw down money to back a project if a prototype hasn’t been built yet. 3D models and fancy graphics are practically worthless to me. I need to know that the project founders are capable of building what they set out to build, even if the prototype looks a bit rough and basic. 3D printing isn’t that difficult or expensive, and I’d expect someone to at least get their product to that point before telling the world it’s ready for production.

Without a prototype, there is no product. Period. End of story.

What do you look for in a Kickstarter or Indiegogo project? Are there any red flags people should avoid?

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