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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David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/9/2014 | 4:04:57 PM
Re: Ricky the cockroach
@SaneIt- No doubt you are right about that. I fear the "Redditification" of Kickstarter where the funniest post gets the most funding. But if it happens, no doubt Indiegogo or some other copycat will take the "serious business" and the community will move on. 

I'm guessing that crowdfunding sites will be like social networks-- all the cool kids will jump around every few years anyway.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/9/2014 | 4:03:19 PM
Re: Ricky the cockroach
@alison- It annoyed me and amused me at the same time. I was so conflicted I think it showed that i was mostly just jealous. Ultimately, what I decided is that what he was rewarded for was his writing. I don't know if he should get $70,000 (and counting) for the writing. But what he did was entertain us. He spoofed Kickstarter, and people "paid" to read the story.

Basically the way some artists have been putting out their records for free and telling fans to pay what they want for them.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/9/2014 | 4:01:13 PM
Re: Ricky the cockroach
why bother with that when you can just hit up a bunch of people who think, "that looks totally cool!" :)


@vnewman- It makes me wonder if we're pitching to VC's wrong. Maybe all we need is a good youtube movies, some pics of the prototype and a catchy short description.
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
7/9/2014 | 9:36:35 AM
Re: Ricky the cockroach
The potato salad project annoyed me -- not so much the guy who set it up, but the people who supported it. I mean, c'mon folk! And of course, there was then a flood of copycats seeking funding for all sorts of different salads and food. Must say, if I had a serious, good idea on Kickstarter and nobody was funding it, I'd have been heartbroken!
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
7/9/2014 | 7:08:35 AM
Re: Ricky the cockroach
Yes I saw the potato salad project.  What's cool is that he's not just taking the money and running, he's going to have a get together for the supporters.  My fear is that this is going to cause a ripple effect into serious projects.  There will no doubt be a rash of people trying to do another viral Kickstarter and it's going to make the serious ones look like used car salesmen.
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
7/8/2014 | 8:05:46 PM
Re: Ricky the cockroach
@David - so true, I mean, typically they want a business plan and a well-thought out presentation - why bother with that when you can just hit up a bunch of people who think, "that looks totally cool!" :)
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/8/2014 | 1:53:11 PM
Re: Ricky the cockroach
@vnewman2- You might be right. Also, who knows VC people with millions of dollars? It sometimes takes years to build those kinds of investment contacts.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/8/2014 | 1:52:14 PM
Re: A Tiptoe Through Kickstarter
@zerox203- Thanks!

Interestingly enough, I saw a great presentation at the Games Developer's Conference by a guy who has funded video games through Kickstarter. And he basically said that Kickstarter was a terrible place to fund video games. He said you are actually better off getting money in a bank you've never worked with before than Kickstarter.

He said the problem with Kickstarter is that you're basically begging. And people have reached a begging limit on the site. So game developers have to increasingly give more and more to get people involved. For instance, the right to design a level or name a monster.

He said that basically, if you want to fund a game on Kickstarter now, be prepared to give away the game design to your investors. I can't swear to the accuracy of this, but it was a compelling argument.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/8/2014 | 1:49:06 PM
Re: Ricky the cockroach
@SaneIT- Right, I agree. But did you see this? A guy has raised over $40,000 to make potato salad. Not a new kind of potato salad to sell as a product. He just always wanted to try to make potato salad. He asked for $10. He got $40,000 and counting.

Sometimes it isn't even about the idea, but the presentation. My favorite was what he offered if you gave him $1: I will say your name out loud while making the potato salad.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/8/2014 | 1:44:38 PM
Re: city planning?
@soozyg- For the city planning to work it would requires dozens or hundres of people travelling through the same space to get an accurate read. For instance, i don't find parks relaxing at all. Too much open space. Not enough happening. I like to be in busy places, If you only went by me, we'd demolish parks and replace them with laser tag stadiums (an awesome idea!).

Ultimately the individual stress of a person on a given day would get washed out in the larger stats.
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