In this fourth and final part of PD's crowdfunding tutorial he looks at things from a backer's perspective. PD is a veteran of the crowdfunding scene and can offer insights. PD also presents the second featured project, one aimed at helping to preserve your hearing (do not walk away; have a look and you will be pleasantly surprised).
CROWDFUNDING 101 FOR BACKERS
PD has backed over 150 projects, mainly to help people get a start in life. He has backed a wide range of projects and shares some of his experiences in the form of advice.
Do not get carried away
Crowdfunding can become addictive, browsing through the many projects that come on stream. There are also many similar projects. A successful project tends to spawn copycat projects, so that there are fashions. For example, there was a run of minimalist wallets, and another of EDC tools. The latter is a chuckle because every new project tried to outdo the previous ones in the number of tools that could be included on a card. PD recalls sound advice he received as a pup; a tool that does only one thing is strong and reliable. Multitools have weaknesses. Anyway, PD digresses. The main point here is do you need more than one minimalist wallet? How many EDC tools do you need? Pick and choose carefully. Back something because you need it or really like the project, otherwise you will have a cupboard of things you never use together with an empty bank account.
Read the story behind the project
Why has the person put up this project? Try to see if it sounds genuine or just spin. Of course the whole thing relies on trust; unfortunately, as PD has pointed out previously, there is a small number of people who are not entirely honest. Importantly, do read other backers' comments. This will give you additional insight. Even more telling is the creator's response to these comments. As mentioned previously, long silences from creators are a worrying sign.
Remember shipping costs
The pledges listed do not include shipping. When you click "Pledge now" this will be revealed. The reason for this is that shipping costs will vary according to the destination country. Some creators can negotiate good deals from shippers while others seem unable to. PD has walked away from some good projects when the shipping cost exceeded the pledge for the item.
Get in early
Most projects will have a limited number of early bird pledges. These can go quickly. PD does not approve of this practice, however this is a reality of life. He totally disapproves of the small number of projects with very few early bird numbers, such as ten or twenty five. This sounds too much like those door buster deals that retailers use.
Join Backer Club
Backer Club is for regular backers. Members get special perks, such as extra items or sold out early bird deals.
If you recall earlier posts, some crowdfunding sites, such as Kickstarter, do not collect your money until the end of the campaign, if the funding goal is reached. This allows you to change your mind until that time or to change your pledge. Others, such as Indiegogo, take your money the moment you pledge.
You are not buying from a shop
Again, PD has pointed this out, however it is worth repeating. You are not buying from a shop. You are taking a calculated risk in investing money to help someone get a project off the ground. When you invest the goods do not exist, except as concepts. Should the project succeed you will be paid a dividend in the form of whatever you pledged for. If you are lucky, there may be something extra as a thank you. This is a gamble and you are taking a risk. On average, about 10% of projects that are funded fail for one reason or another (discussed previously). In that case your money is gone. Do not dwell on this; think of the projects that you happily backed and got something nice and useful for.
Projects take time
There will always be a delay from the end of a successful campaign to you receiving the goods. Remember that in most cases production is not initiated until funds are transferred to the creator. There is an average two week wait for this to happen. Then, depending on the complexity of the project, there may be delays in getting manufacturing under way. In one case, government bureaucrats delayed shipping for weeks. It is not uncommon for projects to run overtime, and it may be up to one year before you get your item.
Horses for courses
There are literately numerous projects, from food to books, games, electronics, health, fashion, home wares and comics. There are also direct donations to individuals and groups. PD does not approve of the free-for-all sites or ones that ask for money for dubious political activities and pressure groups, however you have to make your own decision.
This seems like a long list of caveats, however if you keep these things in mind, it is a lot of fun, whatever your interest is. Take your time to see what is on offer, and who knows, you may even be inspired to create your own project. Enjoy.
PROJECT OF THE WEEK: EARDIAL
People often do not take their hearing seriously until it is too late, especially young people. Perhaps hearing protection is not cool. Nevertheless it is serious and the damage cannot be undone. Parties, nightclubs, concerts, air shows, gun ranges all have very high levels of noise that can cause permanent damage in as little as fifteen to thirty minutes. There are plenty of earplugs available, and PD agrees that some make you look like a dork, which is embarrassing if you are trying to look cool to your friends. Here is a possible solution, the Eardial. These are soft, translucent (discreet) silicone ear plugs in a small canister that you can carry in your pocket, bag or on your key ring, ready to use at any time.
SPECIAL DISCLAIMER: PD has not tested these earplugs and cannot vouch for their effectiveness. The information here is provided for entertainment purposes only and in no way vouches for the effectiveness of this product, nor is it an endorsement of this product. PD is not liable for any damage or loss as a result of their use. It is a sad reflection on the era we live in that PD must resort to this type of disclaimer.
Important disclaimer: Remember that crowdfunding sites are not stores. You may decide to back this project and provide funds, however there is no guarantee that any project will be delivered - the rate of failure is about 10%. PD is in no way accountable for the success or otherwise of any project and writes in this column purely for entertainment purposes, not to promote any project, and will in no way be held liable for any failure or money lost by anyone. It is a case of "buyer beware". It is a sad reflection on the era we live in that PD must resort to this type of disclaimer.
Note: photographs and illustrations are from the relevant websites and are the copyright of the respective owners.
Note: PD does not get sponsored by any company and chooses to write about products that catch his eye while on the prowl, without the makers' knowledge. That way he remains impartial.
Contact Prowling Dog at firstname.lastname@example.org
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