Way back when I recommended some websites to waste time on.
They’re all still great, and I fully recommending wasting even more time on them all. But let’s focus in on one of the featured sites–KickFailure.
We’ve all had that idea at 3 a.m. that we think is going to make us a billionaire–phones shaped like cats, tomato-flavored toothpaste, solar-powered shoes. Then, usually, we look at that idea the next day and realize it’s probably not going to sell. Sometimes people don’t realize their ideas won’t work, though, and they take it to Kickstarter to try and raise funds.
That’s where KickFailure comes in. If a project is a scam, is asking for a ridiculous amount of money or tries to reinvent the wheel (there are apparently nine million inventors trying to create new bottle openers), Andy, the creator of KickFailure, is here to call them out on his site.
“A lot of people assume I must hate Kickstarter, or that I want everybody to fail,” said Andy in an email interview. “Nope! Not at all. I love Kickstarter, and even before I had the blog I spent a lot of time browsing the list of newly launched Kickstarter projects.”
When he would find a project he thought was particularly bad, he’d send links to his friends to show them.
“Finally, one of my friends happened to say, ‘I wish there was a Regretsy for Kickstarter’, and the idea was born,” he said.
So what has he found in his journey to document the fails of Kickstarter? Scores of thieves and plagiarists, for one. KickFailure calls them out, even finding a professor who was stealing her photos. But there’s also a documentary that claims to find living dinosaurs, jars of air (from Iowa, so they’re special Iowa air jars) and pet food bowls that costs more than $60.
The creators of the projects have mixed responses to being featured.
“Some creators were happy for the publicity, and were happy to laugh at themselves.” Andy said. “A few creators wrote angry rants, or threatened to sue me or have me ‘shut down’.”
He said that the people whose projects he’s discussing think they’re above criticism.
“Among angry responses, the common threads seem to be that they believe that I need, either morally or legally, permission from them to discuss their project on my blog, or that the act of creation, in and of itself, is so virtuous that it should be held sacrosanct and never criticized,” Andy said. “I strongly disagree with both those ideas. Criticism, even to the point of mockery, is an important part of a healthy society. This is especially true when the thing being criticized is a business that wants money from consumers.”
And as he’s said, he doesn’t hate Kickstarter or the people who try to make money on it–he even features different projects he’s backed, such as a super-minimalist wallet, on the site.
You might not pitch the next Reading Rainbow–which, at the time of this writing, has made over 3 million dollars on Kickstarter. But maybe you have a book, video game or accessory you’d like to fund. So what’s Andy’s advice to keep your project from winding up on his site?
“The NUMBER ONE thing that could have saved so many of these projects is RESEARCH!” he said. ” Always research before you do something! So many of these ridiculously failed projects were clearly put together by someone with no real idea how Kickstarter, or even their own business, works. Kickstarter is now an archive of thousands of successful and unsuccessful projects. USE that resource to plan your own project. The only way to have realistic expectations is to compare your project to those that have gone before yours.”
By comparing the rewards you offer, the practicality of making your project happen and the pitch you create with other people who succeed, he said, you can increase the attractiveness of your project.
“So many people assume that Kickstarter is a slot machine that just randomly gives out money based on sheer chance,” he said. “If you think that, you will fail badly, and I will mock you.”
You should also try and tap into a market that actually exists.
“My personal favorites are the ones where someone has invented something that did not actually need to be invented,” Andy said. “For example, the guy who clearly spent a lot of effort inventing a way to carry watermelons home from the store because he believes paper bags aren’t strong enough, or the man who was so excited about his new invention to make coasters (the kind you place your drink on) portable.”
No matter what he stumbles across, Andy say he enjoys running the site.
“When I started I was worried that nobody would care, or that the comments would just become an all-out hate-fest, but luckily it seems to have attracted a bunch of people who think, like I do, that Kickstarter is great, but we can still laugh at the dumb ones.”