[Opinion] Crowdfunding Is Risky Business, But Is It Actually Worth It?

Crowdfunding is risky business.  One of the largest crowdsourcing sites even tells you that there are risks involved in backing a campaign.  Being a techie person, I’m attracted to all the cool toys techie things on these crowdsource sites.  I’m also attracted to the opportunity to get these toys techie things at a price that will be lower than the possible street price and also supporting the developer of the techie thing product.

Crowdsourcing campaigns get mixed results.  There have been some that I’ve supported and some that I haven’t.  Some have had great success and others have not.  I supported a campaign to make a device to allow you to use an external SD card to add additional memory to your phone or tablet. That device is now sitting in a desk drawer.  I supported a device that I honestly thought was going to be a game changer.  This device plugged into the headphone jack of your phone and added a programmable button, so you can assign tasks (flashlight toggle, WiFi toggle, “text my standard pizza order to the pizza place”, etc…).  This particular crowdfunding campaign had great success, however, IMO, the product was a huge failure, there were several delays, stretching several months from the promised delivery date. Once the product arrived, it proved to be incompatible with my phone. The product had a case to store the item when it wasn’t being used. The case attached to your keychain.  I looked down one day and the storage case was still attached to my keychain, but the item had fallen out of the case and was gone forever.  There was even a campaign that I didn’t officially support, but that’s because the guy that made the product lives in my town and I just drove over to his house to get one. He later went on Shark Tank and has a shop down the street making these things.



There are other campaigns that I haven’t supported and I’m glad I didn’t.  I’ve been working with the people behind several campaigns to get their products for review on iTechTriad.   Every time I contact them, I receive a reply that the product is not ready and to check back with them in a few months.  That’s been their answer for over two years.  I sent a follow-up email prior to writing this article and there’s been no response.

Recently, it’s been announced that the second highest grossing Kickstarter campaign is having problems.  The Coolest Cooler was supposed to be delivered to supporters in February 2015.  Guess what? It hasn’t been delivered. Not only has it not been delivered, but the Coolest people are asking backers for almost another $100 for “expedited delivery” of the cooler.  Meanwhile, you can go to Amazon and buy the cooler right now for $400 (it was originally $165 for backers on Kickstarter.  Could it be that they underestimated their costs when setting the initial campaign goals?

coolestcooler

Not all campaigns are failures.  I mentioned that the Coolest Cooler is the second highest grossing Kickstarter campaign.  Would you care to guess what campaign was the highest?  Ever heard of Pebble? Pebble is basically responsible for starting the whole smartwatch race and it started as a crowdfunding campaign.  I wouldn’t call Pebble a failure.

When you pledge to support a crowdfunded campaign, do you expect to actually receive the product or are you just funding it because you believe in the idea or concept and want to help support it? That’s the idea of crowdfunding, but sadly it just doesn’t always work. When it does, it’s awesome, but sometimes there are just massive failures.

I still support crowdfunding projects.  Actually, I’m supporting one right now that’s supposed to be delivered in June.  I guess only time will tell if this is a success or it falls flat.  I certainly hope it’s the former and not the latter. So, supporting a crowdfunding campaign is a risk. There have been huge successes, and massive failures.  Is it a risk you’re willing to take?