You’re Doing It Wrong: Kickstarter

by Randy Murray on January 30, 2014

For some reason, no matter how many times the company itself says it, far too many people appear to be confused about Kickstarter. Kickstarter is not a shopping site. It is not about buying products. Kickstarter’s mission is to let the general public back companies, ideas, products, and people. It’s about supporting them with money and awareness. It’s our chance to help others launch and create new businesses.

It’s not an investment. It’s not about the things you can buy.

Too much of that gets lost in the “rewards.” Yes, cool products are what attract a lot of people into backing projects. The real power of Kickstarter is that individuals like you and me can back exciting ideas and help the launch of businesses and ventures with just a few bucks. It gives us a taste of what being an angel investor feels like, sans the millions of dollars to put at risk.

I don’t back many projects. I’d like to see more exciting ideas that aren’t products, gadgets, and gizmos. I’d like to back more writers and musicians. I’d like to see these ventures take flight.  The only thing that I need is the satisfaction of saying, “I helped make that real.”

Go ahead and use Kickstarter to shop for stuff. That’s OK. But keep clear in your mind what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Launching a business is hard. Most don’t make it. You may not get that thing that you backed. Like an angel investor, you only get a return on your investment if the business is successful. Investors expect failures and so should you if you back projects on Kickstarter.

If you don’t get your reward, chalk it up as a business failure and look for the next thing to back. Pick something exciting. Expect nothing in return. When you do back something that succeeds, take the opportunity to crow a bit.

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