Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Perhaps I Just Don't "Get" Kickstarter

I mean, it's a lovely tool for fundraising. I'm happy to throw a few bucks toward getting a memorial for Harvey Pekar at the Cleveland Library, or to support a small non-profit theatre company, or helping musician with no health insurance pay medical bills. Those are charitable acts, where no one's looking to make a profit.

Things, however, get dogy for me when I'm being asked to just give you money to set up a for-profit business and/or venture.

Let me give you a couple of actual, real examples I've seen...

If your comic book shop is going under, I tend to feel like my patronage is me supporting you. If you're unable to make ends meet with your income from your customers, or you can't entice enough customers to keep your business afloat, that's just being a poor business owner. I guess I find it sort of...wrong to go asking me for more dollars than what I spend for your services.

Likewise, if you want to start a brewing company, and need to raise $30,000, it would seem to me that going on line and asking for people to GIVE it to you is completely irresponsible. Go to a bank, get a loan, and pay back your start-up capital. You're basically asking for a bunch of strangers to bankroll your business, which you will make money from, for a cheap bottle opener, or whatever trinket you're handing out. Gee, I'd like somebody to just give me money, with no need to pay it back, much less interest, to start a business, wouldn't you?

I mean, is that reasonable?

I don't think so.

Yeah, yeah...Kickstarter says you can't fund a business, but I've seen a couple of "projects" that are clearly, exactly that. For example, the brewing "project" I referenced above? Here's what the Kickstarter is for:
  • Fees for licensing (city, state, and federal) and legal services
  • Costs for our website and online social network
  • Brewery equipment (fermentation tanks and other equipment)
  • Supplies for brewing (grains, hops, cleaning supplies, bottles, rentals, etc.)
  • Paying great artists and designers fair value for their designs and artwork
  • Labor costs
That, my friends, is somebody starting a business. Also, how is "keep my comic book store open" a "project?"

I can even, to a point, see when they're set up for things like short films, and such. That is, when it's amateurs with no connections or resources to call upon. However, I mean, when I see respected, known guys in, say the special effects industry, asking for me to give them money for a film or series, I have to ask...Don't you know producers and such? Don't you have connections to try to get somebody to back your script and project? Which then makes me good is your script?

And then, back around're doing this to MAKE MONEY. So, essentially, you want me to take this cash out of my pocket, and give it to you to spend as you will, so that you can, in some cases, get me to buy the finished product from you. That's just not a process, a system, I can get behind.

Plus, what happens if you hit your goal, get your money, and  you don't actually complete your project? I don't see anything on Kickstarter's site that explains exactly how they guard against that, or if they do at all. Maybe somebody over there will read this and respond.

Now, to say again....I am NOT talking about not-for-profit concerns. I do think Kickstarter is very, very helpful for those kind of uses, and I respect that. I respect the people who run and operate Kickstarter for those reasons. It's just...I feel like this is indicative of a change in our society. The "gimmie gimmie" movement. It's my self-reliant nature, I guess, but I don't get it.

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