Geekend: A Tiptoe Through Kickstarter - InformationWeek
IT Leadership // IT Strategy
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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 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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User Rank: Ninja
7/6/2014 | 10:23:34 PM
regarding the helmet
"Of course, there's one major problem: No one would want to wear the dorky hat if not on a bicycle or similar vehicle."

I would think the other major problem is the technology that is actually reading the brain. That makes me nervous. Not sure I would want anything reading my brain for more than a few seconds.
User Rank: Ninja
7/5/2014 | 4:43:33 PM
Re: Ricky the cockroach
I think that crowdfunding is a great way to see if an idea can get traction with people. But I am wary of it as an investment vehicle. If some of these ideas are so good, then why did traditional investors turn them down? That's the caveat I have always been concerned with in regards to crowdfunding.

Sometimes, it's not even the idea that is the problem. Process, marketing and other factors can come into play and doom a potential project. 
User Rank: Ninja
7/4/2014 | 9:48:21 AM
Re: Ricky the cockroach
I'm debating whether to kick in some $$ to Shipman for her Ricky story. But I digress...

Was wondering if it were possible that the Handy Reach by Donald Walters to help you pull down the strings on your attic stairs will reveal where your creepy relative [brother] [cousin] hid all those bodies. Watch out for unintended consequences. Stephen King, listen up, a tool for your plot lines...

Teqball will be the next big thing, and is a client of Sterling, Draper Price.

I'm running out to get a Qwerkywriter – the best thing I've seen next to those fake pay phones that hang on the wall. It's wonderful!

>> Is there anything really big and special going on Kickstarter?

Well, there remains, and will always be, Kickstarter itself.

Happy Fourth @dave
User Rank: Ninja
7/3/2014 | 6:00:01 PM
Ricky the cockroach
Perhaps folks named Ricky will throw some money at the project, just so they can see their name in a book.

I was intrigued by the statement at the end: I can't help but wonder, what kind of mistakes has the author made in life?? I'd give some money to find out...

This book reminds me of an episode of Sex and the City where Carrie makes up an excuse to meet up with Big's Ex-Wife just to see what she is like. Source: IMDB:

Barbara, Mr. Big's Ex-Wife: I didn't know you were into children's books.

Carrie: Well, who doesn't love children's books?

Carrie: [in her head] Five minutes of bodice-ripping material out the window. So, I did what any writer would do... I pulled an idea out of my a$$.

Carrie: Well, my story's about a little girl... named Cathy. Little Cathy.

Barbara, Mr. Big's Ex-Wife: And what makes Little Cathy special?

Carrie: Well, um, she has these magic... [looks at cigarettes in her purse]...cigarettes.

Barbara, Mr. Big's Ex-Wife: She has magic cigarettes?

Carrie: Yes, "Little Cathy and Her Magic Cigarettes". And whenever she lights up, she can go anywhere in the whole wide world. Like Arabia or New Jersey! Of course that's going to be worked out.

Barbara, Mr. Big's Ex-Wife: You want to write a children's book about smoking?

Carrie: Yes, it's a children's book for adults.
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