Kickstarter Projects That Don't Meet Their Goal Are Not 'Failures'; They Help People Avoid Failures

from the remember-that dept

A little while back, on one of our "funniest/most insightful comments of the week" posts, we featured a comment that someone made anonymously, in response to a story about Bjork's Kickstarter project that was taken down before it ended, after it did not look like it was going to get anywhere near the required threshold. However, the comment has stuck with me and I think it deserves a post. In particular, the commenter called us out for saying that her project "failed."
This was not a "failure!"

Platforms like Kickstarter have changed the way the market is functioning, and our ways of thinking about it (even here on Techdirt) have to catch up.

Bjork's campaign did not fail, even though the results were not what she was hoping for. She successfully learned that the market was not interested in this product.

Spending £375,000 of her own money? Now THAT would have been a failure.

Using Kickstarter is more like running a science experiment than it is like selling a product. It increases the efficiency of the market by orders of magnitude, and apparently beyond our ability to think about it clearly.
This point -- even if it was calling us out -- is so true, and it's so important for people to understand. It's easy to use the word "failure" for those projects that don't meet their goal. Hell, just in writing this post, I repeatedly had to consciously stop myself from using the words "fail" or "failure" in describing projects that don't reach their goal. But, the commenter is right: those projects are not failed projects once you realize what Kickstarter really is: a platform to judge the market for products, and to build commitment and funding around them. If a project doesn't reach the goal, that's actually valuable market research, suggesting that if they had gone ahead, without going through the experience, they likely would have "failed."

So, in actuality, it makes sense to look at such projects and recognize that they were saved from a dismal failure, in which large sums of money may have been spent, but at the same time clarifying the market's reaction to a product before it's even been introduced. With so many people thinking of Kickstarter more as a store, than as a platform for supporting people trying to turn cool ideas into reality, it's important to be careful in how we choose our language. Putting up a Kickstarter project that doesn't reach its goal shouldn't be seen as a failure. It should be seen as a useful bit of data, which helps one avoid failure, and also to (hopefully) sharpen up their product and pitch so that the next time, it is more likely to be funded.

Filed Under: bjork, crowdfunding
Companies: kickstarter

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  1. icon
    Chosen Reject (profile), 14 Mar 2013 @ 12:08pm

    Re: Re: Indeed

    I'm glad the AC mentioned it. I thought it was obvious. Heck, that's what the whole Veronica Mars thing was yesterday. Warner Bros. said they'd make a movie if they could get a Kickstarter project past it's goal. In addition to being a funding platform, it's very useful as a market gauge.

    It's also useful to see where money is being left on the table. Taking the Veronica Mars example again, consider how fast some of the upper tiers went. That means it is likely that they could have sold them for more or could have offered more of them. But even the fact that they were sold shows how much money is too be made from movies rather than just ticket sales. This is the loooooooots of t-shirts thing. They already sell t-shirts and other merchandising of stuff, sure. But they just made $25,000 for 250 people to see a movie screening. That's an average of $100 each.

    Movies are excellent examples of giving away the scarce to sell the abundant. People pay to go to the red carpet movie premier just to see the stars outside. That's scarce. Capture some of that! 50 people just paid $750 for that. That's $37,500 for 100 tickets. Assuming a normal $12 movie ticket (I'm guessing here, haven't been in a long time) it would take 3,125 normal ticket sales to make that same kind of money.

    These are just some of things we learn with Kickstarter. I suspect it's only beginning.

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