Strategic CIO // IT Strategy
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7/3/2014
01:45 PM
David Wagner
David Wagner
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Geekend: A Tiptoe Through Kickstarter

Kickstarter is place where dreams go to become reality ... and to be mocked by the Geekend.

A lot of wonderful things have been funded via Kickstarter, and a few not so wonderful things. Kickstarter is a place where people try to make their dreams come true, but dreams can be strange, funny, horrific, and brilliant all at the same time. With that thought in mind, I'll highlight some actual projects looking for money on Kickstarter and, as gently as possible, either crush or encourage those dreams.

Let's start with Life's No Joke When You're A Cockroach, a book by Marion Shipman. It isn't so much that Shipman wrote a book in which a cockroach is a protagonist (which she did), or even that she sends the cockroach on vacation to Miami (which she did), or even that the cockroach falls in love (which he does). It is this dreamy trailer that totally puts it over the top:

Every Kickstarter includes a section on risks and challenges so that potential investors understand why an ROI isn't always a sure thing. Here's Shipman's gem in that section: "When you have an idea that you believe in you must let no obstacles change your dream keep jumping over the hurdles and keep trying and remember that the no's are delayed yes's." Aww...sweet. Too bad not a single soul on the planet had given her a penny when this story went to press.

Some dreams are a little more easily realized than others. Take the Handy Reach, designed by Donald Walters to help you pull down the strings on your attic stairs or ceiling fans.

Congratulations, Mr. Walters. You just invented the world's most complicated stick.

Some people really use their heads while coming up with something (you'll see that later). Others use their feet. These soccer enthusiasts have invented a game that looks absolutely wonderful if you happen to be Lionel Messi and absolutely horrible if you happen to be the rest of us. It's called Teqball, and it's played just like ping pong except with a soccer ball and your feet.

We can excuse them for boring terms such as "a double mistake," because it looks amazing if you know what you're doing. But we Americans are more likely to break our legs on the table than actually kick a ball. That's why we're out of the World Cup.

Sometimes you see something on Kickstarter that's really silly but you've just got to have it. For loyal Geekend readers, I present the Qwerkywriter. The Qwerkywriter is an 86 mechanical key USB keyboard that has a holder for your tablet that looks just like a ye olde typewriter.

The Qwerkywriter is for those people who want all the old fashioned blisters of old style typing with none of the efficiency of modern touchscreens. No, seriously, it's a tribute to the beautiful designs of mid-20th century typewriters. In fact, it's so beautiful that the developer already has sold 224 of the 225 first-run keyboards and met the funding goal of $90,000. If anyone is looking to give me an early Christmas present, buy me the 225th.

Of course, all of these products are relatively low tech. Even the keyboard is just a refit of an existing keyboard. Is there anything really big and special going on Kickstarter?

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David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Enterpriseefficiency.com. Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio
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SunitaT0
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SunitaT0,
User Rank: Ninja
7/29/2014 | 5:29:21 PM
Re: Ricky the cockroach
@pedrogonzales: Some projects need to be funded, like interesting approaches with the 3D printing needs to be explored to see what projects can be made useful in our daily lives.
We should only browse those kinds of ideas that appeal to us by making our lives better. Not funding some insane and amateur idea is a nice start.
SunitaT0
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SunitaT0,
User Rank: Ninja
7/29/2014 | 5:27:33 PM
Re: Ricky the cockroach
@Alison: These funding sites need better advertisement approaches. Constantly annoying a user for a donation may (and does) lead to minimum amounts of money procured by the funding website. Moreover, these campaigns are region specific, and in some countries they do not work. In India most of the IT people seem to care about such campaigns and only a small percentage of them donate anything for such websites. Marketing approaches comes with advertisements and advertisement approaches should be region specific.
kstaron
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kstaron,
User Rank: Ninja
7/24/2014 | 1:50:45 PM
Love the keyboard, hate the empty accounts
I now want the querky typewriter keyboard. It's adorable. Always wanted an old typewriter but wondered where i'd put it. Using it as a tablet keyboard would be awesome.

One hint for new kickstarters, especially that cockroach story woman without a penny invested. Take a low level investment and pledge it yourself, get your friends to kick in a few bucks (heck ask that to be your birthday present). Get the seed money in there. It's like a tip jar. no one's going to add the first dollar, but if there's a five in there already the'll add two.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
7/11/2014 | 7:11:59 AM
Re: Ricky the cockroach
I see GoFundMe a little differently than Kickstarter.  The GoFundMe stuff tends to be charity or donations to an individual so they can do what they want to do not an attempt to raise funding for a product launch that offers the participant a tangible object.  I don't mind charity but I do mind when a company is skimming part of the funds from donations.  I don't mind people having dreams but I do get irritated with GoFundMe requests like "Awesome Weekend in Vegas" where they want me to fund their vacation.  Sorry I don't care how you spin it that just doesn't fly with me.  As for more legitimate fund raising using similar sites what bothers me is that it would be just as easy to set up a PayPal account and manage the whole thing yourself and the fees lost would probably be significantly lower.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/10/2014 | 1:27:40 PM
Re: Ricky the cockroach
@Pedro- Please do. Because A) I'd love to see one of our community make tons of money b) I'd liek to then interview you on your secrets and c) If it didn't work, I think it would be fun examining what went wrong.
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
7/10/2014 | 9:52:08 AM
Re: Ricky the cockroach
I wonder if a backlash against these funding sites is beginning to occur. Sometimes I get a little tired of being hit up by GoFundMe requests to help acquaintances fulfill their personal dreams -- things like attending divinity school (especially coming right after repeated requests for sponsorship in a charity that requires a set amount in order to participate in a walk).
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
7/10/2014 | 7:24:47 AM
Re: Ricky the cockroach
@Alison_Diana, that's how I feel.  If I had a kickstarter project that I had put a significant amount of time into and I thought I had a really great product that I could get off the ground if only I could raise 10K or so I'd be really let down that some guy got 70K to make potato salad.  Can you imagine how excited a small business would be to get 70K in a week? 
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
7/10/2014 | 7:18:15 AM
Re: Ricky the cockroach
Hopefully Kickstarter puts some stops in there soon though.  It's funny to see Reddit mentioned because I do think that's 90% of the problem.  The hivemind is driving the funding and it doesn't stop to think about what it does to legitimate projects.  The Kickstarter model is a tough enough sell in the first place, it doesn't need to become another r/RandomActsOfPizza/.
PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
7/9/2014 | 9:39:38 PM
Re: Ricky the cockroach
I wouldn't fund any of the projects.  I mean, they don't sound that useful.  Even the one from MIT,  I'm still waiting for the helmet that would read a pet's thoughts.  That idea would make millions.  I'm sure there are other good projects out there.  May be I should come up with my own silly project, I bet will make money.
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
7/9/2014 | 5:02:11 PM
Re: Ricky the cockroach
Yes, I think that sums up my attitude too, @Dave! 
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