Beware Crowd Funding | Jesse Fewell

Beware Crowd Funding

By June 18, 2017Blog

I wanted to talk a little bit this morning about innovation. In the world of innovation, one of the hot topics is Crowd Funding. It’s popular, because you can get lots of money to fund your project, and then you’ve got market validation. This is particularly hot in the Lean Startup conversation. But for consumers it can be a problem, and I’m going to share with you a couple of experiences I’ve had.

The big, famous example was Pebble Watch. Pebble Watch famously put Kickstarter on the map. But then took forever to get out the door and then surprise, surprise, Pebble Watch shows up at Best Buy before it shows up in the homes of the people that funded it.

The Air Case Story

And this is kind of my experience that I had dealing with this product, the Air Case, a lightweight battery case for an iPhone. And this thing is months late, MONTHS late! And so that’s the first point that I want to share with you:

“When it comes to Crowd Funding, for you as a consumer, it takes time to get the product.”

It’s ironic, because In the interest of being fast and nimble and Lean Startup and get product out the door, but this is not what’s happening.

In stories like the Air Case story ((watch my unboxing in the video above), the project in many cases is not as far along as you would want. It was a great idea, great video, and there were prototypes. But then one of the mistakes they made, I think, is that they wanted to be too perfect. They got Apple certified; they got MiFi certified; a lot of people like me signed up in September, and here I am, months later in January, only now just opening this thing up.

Looks good, nice colors, very lightweight and flexible. (Man that’s a thin battery).  But I really wish they had done a lot more maturing of the product before they started taking money from consumers. Now granted in Crowd Funding you’re an early adopter and that’s part of the joy. That’s part of the excitement. And so you here’s the second point:

“Know your “why” for Crowdfunding”

For me, I like to shop on the Crowd Funding sites because there’s a lot of innovation and creativity here and one of the things I find a lot is that some of the projects that are most interesting are creative project where I would get to be a part of the journey. Maybe it’s a new comic book, or maybe it’s a new boardgame. And here you get to see like-minded people using the product and goofing around with it as it’s maturing and you get to see different iterations of stuff.

The updates I was getting from the guys over at the Air Case anyways was a couple of photos from the factory and yet that just didn’t feel like I was part of a journey or part of a true experience of innovation.

The Flair Audio Story

Flair Audio was a different story. (Watch my unboxing of these also in the video above). These are titanium earplugs. Isn’t that cool? And the idea here is that you can muffle load  concert noises. You can muffle a lot of the high frequencies, but then maintain some of the lower frequencies so you get to hear the actual audio a little bit more in-tune-like.

And what these guys did great, was that they had already released their product to the market such that by the time they went for Crowd Funding, it was more for a mezzanine round of funding. This wasn’t the first bit of stuff. What I really appreciated about these guys was that they were already more mature BEFORE they started putting their product in front of consumers like me.

Because for me, to know my “why” for crowdfunding, was not as much about being a part of their innovative journey. I wanted the product, I wanted to be first.

Summary

So when you’re going into Crowd Funding, when you’re shopping around looking for some cool stuff, make sure that you understand: some of these things might be a little bit more mature, and others of these might need a little bit more work…and you’re going to be waiting a while for what you get.

Know your why. Are you like Jesse, where I just want to be one of the first guys to have the product, and I don’t necessarily want to see how the sausage is made? Or do you actually want to be a part of the journey?

Beware of Crowd Funding as a consumer. Because different projects have different levels of maturity, and that little promo video they give you doesn’t tell you the whole story.

 

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