December 20, 2012

Hopes And Prayers: Why Are So Many Kickstarter Projects Late?

As it turns out, giving money to people for a product that has yet to be released doesn’t always deliver results in the end.

The idea behind Kickstarter is a good one: Allow entrepreneurs and inventors the opportunity to sell and pitch their ideas to the Internet community on the whole. In this way, these people are able to get their ideas out to the public and generate interest in their product in a very simple and grassroots kind of way. The public can then decide to “back” one of these projects on Kickstarter, essentially putting up a payment in good faith. Users can either donate just enough to show a sign of support for the new idea or project, or pay enough to receive first dibs whenever the product is released.

Though the idea is simple, there remains one small problem: Many of these ambitious new entrepreneurs lack the experience in the intended field. They may not have the know-how when it comes to engineering, designing and shipping a product, much less doing so in mass quantities.

Though these new business owners set up a Kickstarter page, they set up deadlines and pledge to have their products delivered by a certain date. Yet, it’s becoming all too common, particularly in the design, tech and video games section of site, to miss these deadlines.

CNN recently decided to do some investigative work of their own and discovered that an overwhelming majority (84%) of Kickstarter’s top projects shipped late.

These are the projects that were able to garner the most attention in the Kickstarter community earning the companies much more than they had originally asked for.

The 50 projects CNN investigated were able to raise more than $40 million from more than 420,000 Kickstarter users.

Each of these 50 projects in question had projected delivery dates of November 2012 or earlier. According to CNN, only eight of these projects were able to meet their deadline. Sixteen of these projects have yet to ship their product, while 26 of these projects had missed their promised deadline. On average, these projects sent their products out 2 months later than they had promised. One such project, an espresso machine for home use, ZPM Espresso, is now 9 months past due and isn’t set to deliver their product until mid-2013.

“To say we’ve learned a lot about engineering, design, manufacturing, marketing and customer service is … well … an understatement so extreme as to be laughable,” explains the founders of ZPM in a recent update to their backers.

“When we conceived of this project 11 months ago, we thought – perhaps *coughdefinitelycough* naïvely – that our collective drive, intellect, passion and work ethic would prevail over any market forces and logistical hiccups we confronted,” continues the founders.

“We were lacking in the specific experience that would have turned early roadblocks into warning signs and action plans sooner, and have been left playing catch-up for months.”

It’s this kind of inexperience that CNN found responsible for many of these Kickstarter projects being delayed in shipping their products.

In the end, the very model of Kickstarter is slightly flawed and entirely based on the “Buyer Beware” principal. Any person who decides to entrust another with money in the hopes of a modest return (be it by way of a new product or personal gratification) is free, and has always been free, to do so. Kickstarter merely facilitates this transaction.

However, it makes much more sense to buy a finished product from someone who has already been able to figure out a way deliver it directly to you.

As many Kickstart campaigns have shown, buying a hope and a prayer can often leave one with a significant case of buyer’s remorse.

Image Credit: Photos.com

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