If you’re ready to invest in a crowdfunding project then do take a look at DropKicker, which reminds you that you should always investigate technical claims made by crowdfunding campaigns.
DropKicker is run by two engineers/product designers who are spending some of their spare time reverse engineering claims made by some of the projects attracting attention in the crowdfunding space.
Their intention isn’t to undermine the projects, but to examine what is being claimed in order to figure out if a claim is technically possible and if the team behind the scheme’s up to scratch.
Not a bad idea when some projects attract millions of dollars in support.
Just because the reward-based project team promises to make an effort to deliver a product to you doesn’t mean you’ll get your money back if they fail to achieve this. It’s a risk. So it makes sense to be critical, or, in DropKicker’s case, “provide a healthy dose of pessimism”.
DropKicker has looked at a couple of projects recently, including the Scribble colour-changing pen and the iFind Bluetooth beacon (it has also examined other projects). In both cases the site raised doubts about the campaign claims:
The Scribble pen’s response was to close its Kickstarter campaign and move to a different service. This is interesting because while Kickstarter doesn’t transfer funds until the project is complete Scribble’s new chosen platform transfers funds immediately.
Following DropKicker’s debunking of the iFind project Kickstarter closed the project down because it broke some platform rules: the team was backing its own project, posing as a third party supporting project, and providing inaccurate user information.
So what are we saying? Put simply it’s this: There’s a lot of money being fired at crowdfunding projects. That’s great and the democratization of funding it brings will enable many new startups and product designs.
What to do
On the other hand, not every project team knows what they are talking about, some are inexperienced, others lack technical proficiency and some may simply want to part you from your cash.
What’s tragic is that in both cases mentioned here the project teams had invested in PR representatives who had managed to place reviews across trusted media outlets, such as Cnet. This is bad as it suggests those outlets will carry reports about projects without checking their technical feasibility.
- Always check the project thoroughly.
- Seek advice on the technical claims, from a friend or even from DropKicker (you can get them on Twitter).
- Take media reports about new project products with a pinch of salt.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is – but it might not be, the thrill of crowdfunding is that sometimes you come across a great idea.