Saturday, July 5, 2014

How not to Kickstarter

This afternoon I had the strangest Twitter interaction I've ever had. It all began when I found this Kickstarter campaign. It's a campaign to make an intro to organic chemistry video series/tutoring service/app/book. . .

You know what? I'm still not 100% sure what the product is. And that's why this is all so weird. I spent 4+ hours talking with the creator of the Kickstarter trying to get an idea for what the product was. Here's how it all began:

A tweet that I thought was innocent enough. It wasn't clear to me what the Kickstarter was really about. The video explains the problems with the current pedagogy, but doesn't really say what they plan to do about it. The text portion of the Kickstarter says:
"We have the ideas and the access...and are ready to solve this decades-long problem on the first attempt"
Wow. That's an impressive claim. Solve a problem that they admit has been an issue for decades. And they'll do it in their first attempt. I'll bet you can't wait to here more details, right? I couldn't either. Here's the creator's response to my tweet:

So it's a secret (yet crowd funded) project. If I'm truly interested I can wait to find out. Also, I'm apparently way off base for even asking for details...right?

This really only piqued my curiosity even more. What was so special about this crowd funded organic chemistry video/app/...whatever it actually turns out to be that so much secrecy was needed?
Also interested was @MCeep:

An honest question, if you ask me. What is involved in the patent? Is it a novel interaction with your iPad? A physical iPad add on? A cream you rub on your forehead to automatically learn organic chemistry? Seriously, none of these are out of the question, becuase the creator never answered the question. He spent about an hour telling us what is wrong with organic chemistry (expensive tutors, poorly designed apps) and another three hours patronizing anyone who had a question about his Kickstarter, but he never - not once gave a single word about what we would be contributing to with the Kickstarter.

Let's look at another - much better - example. Here is an excellent Kickstarter campaign that recently finished.

Zach Weinersmith, of SMBC-Comics fame, recently funded a children's book. It was clear from the start what the project was, who was involved, what the backers would get, and why it was an important project. He raised nearly $400,000. It was a huge success that I happily backed. Not only to get the book myself, but to put the book in libraries for others to enjoy.

I have my own Kickstarter that I'm working on. But I'm not ready to launch the Kickstarter because I don't have the details worked out yet. I'm working on it behind the scenes until I can go public. Because I want to go public when I can tell people what they'll be getting when they invest their money in my project. That's how it works.