Kickstarter crosses the ocean
When we drafted our plan for how to create Axiom, it was clear that we want to use the biggest, most successful and most widely known crowd funding platform on the planet for our crowd funding campaign: Kickstarter. But since Kickstarter was limited to US projects we had to consider doing some workarounds like asking a US based apertus° member to run the campaign in his name. But research showed that this could have ended quite badly with this particular helpful member having to pay many thousand dollars of income tax for the Kickstarter raised money in worst case. Now Kickstarter announced they will keep their promise to expand into the UK this fall and for the first time touch European soil. Since apertus° is a mostly European based project that brings Kickstarter a little bit closer to us again. We have UK based members and even setting up a UK based legal entity would be possible with some efforts.
How the crowd funding bubble and innovation tower collapsed
For some time analysts had increasing worries that a hugely funded Kickstarter backed project would fail terribly or even have their initiators flee the country with the backers money in their suitcases. Such a case would lead to backers loosing trust in crowd funding based systems and stopping to back projects in masses ultimately threatening the existance of crowd funding as a whole. So Kickstarter decided to release some air from that bubble with a very severe move: In a blog post entitled "Kickstarter Is Not a Store" they announced they would ban "product renderings" from hardware projects. Now this does not seem like a big restriction does it? It does! Any project seeking to create something that does not exist yet uses pre-visualization tools to create images of what they want to create. The most successful Kickstarter projects: Ouya, Pebble, Oculus Rift among many others would not have seen the light of the day if these restrictions were introduced earlier. We put a lot of effort into planning Axiom and creating 3D models of it to give you a chance to see it as if it was a finished product that you could hold in hands. But did we try to trick you into believing it was already an existing physical camera? Kickstarter tried to address the angry mob that formed after this announcement by stating that they do want technical drawings, CAD designs, sketches featured in projects just no photo-realistic renders that would trick customers into thinking the product actually exists yet. So why didn't Kickstarter adopt a policy that renderings must be labeled as such. After all project that show very sophisticated 3D rendering are more likely to have a solid plan for developing their product than a project showing a pencil drawing.
So Kickstarter should have entitled their blog post "Kickstarter Is Not a Store - Yet (but we are working on it)". Some time ago crowd funding was equal to user-driven-innovation far away from big corporate enterprises. The will to reinvent the world bottom up is a fundamental part of the apertus° ideology. But in our view the Kickstarter bubble has already burst. Hardware innovation will most likely have to find other platforms to continue existing. What will remain on Kickstarter are hardware projects that are already finished and just seek a way to sell their goods in higher quantities. Hail the Kickstore.
Indiegogo, the second largest global crowd funding platform that does not impose any restrictions or rules on project creators whatsoever has seen extreme growth in the last year. In terms of traffic and website users Indiegogo is now as large as Kickstarter was one year ago. Many people connect Indiegogo immediately with their flexible funding approach (where projects do not need to reach a certain goal to get the money) but in fact projects can decide if they want to use an all-or-nothing (Fixed Funding) or Flexible Funding approach.
Kickstarter itself states that projects should not expect to get traffic just because they run on Kickstarter. The biggest drive has to come from the projects itself. So does the platform matter after all?
The Path for apertus° Axiom?
The truth is we do not know where to go. Maybe we will figure out a way to use Kickstarter, maybe they will change their policy again, maybe they will finally respond to our support emails with a real answer rather than an automated reply with the link to the Kickstarter FAQ. Maybe we will use Indiegogo. The only certain thing is that our campaign will use the all-or-nothing system and that we wont stop just because life isn't always easy. :-)