Kickstarter is a machine to build dreams. Whether it’s funding the publication of a novel, production of a movie, or the manufacture of, say, a little bike light, the site has proven time and time again that ideas – dreams, let’s say – cannot be deferred.
Now the company is at a crossroads. Because it is such a popular platform and because so many blockbuster projects – the Pebble smart watch, the Ouya – have gotten funded and funded quite impressively, the rest of the world now thinks Kickstarter is the greatest pre-order engine ever.
There’s the rub: in becoming a place to pre-order pie-in-the-sky products, Kickstarter faces a number of problems. First, it has become the place for established manufacturers to test their potential products for popularity. It has also become a place for hardware manufacturers with potentially little or no experience to raise money for projects that run over in terms of manufacturing time and under-deliver. To prevent this, the Kickstarter lads have added two new rules to the Kickstarter guidelines.
Glenn Flieshman, writing on BoingBoing, notes that this move could be detrimental to Kickstarter’s financials but, in the end, makes the community stronger.
Kickstarter is about funding an idea that has legs as is. It helps fund an artist’s vision and a writer’s research. It helps fund a designer’s idea for the next mousetrap, not the next Sony. In the end, both creator and backers benefit from this decision and it helps keep obviously bogus ideas (and I personally think Ouya enters into the category) out of the funding stream.
We’ve entered a fascinating era. Everything is possible and dreams can come true. I don’t mean that in the Walt Disney/Peter Pan kind of way, either. Ask any experienced engineer or designer if they ever wished they could build something cool by themselves without subjecting themselves to the corrosive patronage of corporate life and they’d jump at the chance. A mere year ago, that process would have been impossible. Thanks to the the social and business proof Kickstarter brings to bear on the hardware startup, however, things are a whole lot different and a whole lot better.