Kickstarter (or brother can you spare a dime)

What’s Up With That?

kickstarter logoRecently I have read several posts requesting money on Kickstarter. Not knwoing what Kickstarter was, I did a little research. Kickstarter is a “crowdfunding” website. That is, people/companies looking for capital to develop a product or service request donations to their project. I guess you would call it donations, because you cannot “invest” in the project and receive part of the profit. For your gift you usually receive some sort of minor gift or trinket. Sometimes, if the request is for a product, then you are basically pre-ordering that product. Of course, usually you don’t know if the product is any good because it hasn’t been produced yet. Kickstarter is not a store. Sounds like panhandling or begging to me. However it is not all bad. There are some good things going on over there and I will share some later in this post.

The beggars people request money and set a monetary goal. If they don’t hit their money goal within a preset time frame, they get nothing. If they hit or surpass their goal by the end of the time all the money is released to them. Of course there is no legal recourse if they choose not to delivered the promised product.

Kickstarter says about 43% of projects are funded and around 87% are not launched on time. The launch number doesn’t surprise me. If the person knew what they were doing, the probably could develop a business case and attract conventional backers.

I believe that everything should be created in a free market place. If you have a great product, art, or music the world will beat a path to your door. Now, there are some things in life that I think are good, but the public doesn’t and they fail. That is the marketplace. For example, market place says Lady Gaga has value based on the fact that she has generated hundreds of millions of dollars in record and concert sales. To me, her music has zero value. The market value of a product does not indicate its philosophic objective value, just what society values. I think the works of Johannes Vermeer, Tchaikovsky, and Victor Hugo have objective value, but in today’s society Picasso, Harold Robbins, and Madonna are more valued by society.

What’s Kickstarter

From Kickstarter website:

Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects. Everything from films, games, and music to art, design, and technology. Kickstarter is full of ambitious, innovative, and imaginative projects that are brought to life through the direct support of others.

Hogwash Maybe. In most cases, the request of money is done because capital cannot be generated via the normal methods (e.g., obtaining investors) . This does not mean the project’s beggars developers are bad people. In fact, in some cases the developer has a good product that just is not economically viable; it is too risky. Well we can debate this ad naseum. But you won’t see me donating money to a Kickstarter project. I’ll wait until a real, verifiable product of value is available. If you want to be a Patron or a charitable backer, knock yourself out. Just don’t give money because you feel helping others is some sort of moral duty or a primary human value.

Some interesting Kickstarter projects that are related to backpacking

Notable

Backcountry Boiler
This is a innovative wood-burning stove system and is highly rated by many backpackers. The owner, Devin Montgomery, had a goal to raise $20,000 for this project. He actually raised a little over $60,000. One problem he had was getting the product out. Some customers waited nearly a year after paying for it. That is the problem with Kickstarter projects — investors shy away because the developer does not have the business acumen to efficiently pull if off. But Devin did succeed. Backcountry Boiler is now a viable business. Check it out at the boilerwerks.

The Cairngorms in Winter with Chris Townsend, by Terry Abraham
“A 45-60 minute presentation showcasing the Cairngorms National Park, Scotland in winter.”

Terry Abraham a well known outdoor videographer and will be working with Chris Townsend on this project. Townsend is a renowned hiker and author. The project is currently underway and the finished product should be excellent. Worth taking a look. Terry raised 5,290 British pounds to fund this; whatever currency a British Pound might be – sounds heavy to me.

Mile… Mile & a Half (also known as the Muir Project). This one should be outstanding; I have seen a couple trailers. It is about a group of artists that hiked the John Muir Trail. What is interesting about this project is the filming and photography was completed before their Kickstarter project was launched. They are looking for funds to complete the file with professional post production work. They raised $85,405.

Almost There

Ultralight A to Z

This one is disappointing to me so far. Hendrik Morkel who has a great blog, Hiking in Finland, raised $10,582 to produce 26 episodes of ultralight backpacking techniques. Sounds like he might have got in over his head with the deliverable of 26 episodes. The plan was to upload one episode per week after the funding time is over. So far in 1.5 years only 8 episodes have been produced and they are of debatable value. I hope Hendrik gets on this and completes some useful video.

Hall of Shame

Well I won’t share any names, but there a plenty of projects of dubious value, obviously a boondoggle to fund a vacation, and try to touch those via guilt to fund their getaways with charity. Some examples:

  • Backpacking trip to fund poems by someone who has never published a poem
  • Backpacking trip to fund a gallery showing of photographs by people who have never been invited by a gallery to display their work
  • Backpacking to fund a video by someone who has never produced a quality video
  • Backpacking to fund a sketching and painting journal