Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Module 10: Kickstart Me Up

The post in which I felt like a member of the “Dragons’ Den”.

This was a really nice campaign (kickstarter pagevideo). Successful (it received $12K+ of a $7K goal), it did a good job of balancing a rational proposition (creating a curriculum friendly teaching resource about Edmonton) with an emotive impact (seeing Edmonton visualized in a contemporary artistic style; for Edmontonians, well, we’re not used to seeing that. That has punch). It offered a series of rewards that really made sense to those choosing to contribute (personalized drawings, giclee prints, etc.). All in all an exemplary campaign.

Biopod (page, video). This is a phenomenally successful campaign, raising over $400K of a $30K goal and designated as a “Project We Love” by Kickstarter staff. A bridge from our biophilia/technobiophilia module, its popularity speaks to our instinctive bond to life. The cloud-based community of biopod owners tap into the collective experience of its members, a crowdsourced green-thumb. The presentation does a good job of showing value and possibilities while tapping into our innate attraction to nature.

The challenge for this campaign is managing success: controlling production and delivering to an expectant audience as some grumblings in the comments seem to suggest. As the Foremski article points out “some of the kickstarted ventures…get derailed because they mismanage the complexity of the manufacturing process” (2013).

With 11 backers, raising $2,870 of a $200,000 this was not a successful campaign. I’m not sure it was entirely serious. I’m not sure what to think actually (maybe this isn’t a product at all but the campaign is some kind of performance art? parody?). There are many problems here. The video pitch is tone-deaf. Charitably, it is an attempt to be funny that fails. It is, at best, off putting and openly misogynistic. The in-page narrative continues with the jokey/novelty theme of the product which is at odds for a device that would cost hundreds of dollars to purchase. It completely fails to present a value proposition for the product. If I were to improve this campaign, I would lose the novelty, lose the misogyny, and attempt to piece together a narrative that would focus on the unique benefits of the device (having wireless connectivity to an LCD? are there not such things?). Frankly I’m not sure that’s possible.


Foremski, T. (July 2013). “Cultivating a Smarter Crowd: Norwest’s Startups Move Beyond Crowdsourcing, http://www.siliconvalleywatcher.com/mt/archives/2013/07/cultivating_a_smarter.php


  1. I did always want a sign when on family road trips as a child. Probably because I didn't have a million iDevices to connect me to all the people and had to rely merely on hand gestures and funny faces. I wonder what that says about my need for unmediated communication?

  2. It's an idea at least as old as Dean Martin (trigger warning: Dean Martin/Matt Helm film): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8E93h1CDRg

    The Alberta kickstarter version seems not to be entirely well thought out (do we really want to cover that much of the rear window) and pretty unfocused (is it a car sign? a house sign? a business sign?).

    This hacked together rear-window mesh seems like a smarter, more focused idea:

    Frankly, hand gestures and funny faces still go a long way and are probably more satisfying in the end.

    Levin, H. (Director). (1966). Murderer's row [Motion picture]. USA: Columbia Pictures.

  3. I suppose I should include this too:

    Nathan, M. (2011, October 20). Rear window LED display gives other drivers a piece of your mind. Retrieved April 07, 2016, from http://hackaday.com/2011/10/20/rear-window-led-display-gives-other-drivers-a-piece-of-your-mind/

  4. I was reading the timeline of the Biopad campaign and the comments on from backers, comparing it to where they are now in the actual design. It started to make me question how many campaigns receive full funding and then don't deliver. Some creators just get in over their head, and burn through all of their money before the project is complete.

    According to the Observer 9% of Kickstart campaigns fail to deliver. Which is at least low, but also part of the risk you take investing your money (It really does feel like Dragons Den): http://observer.com/2015/12/9-of-all-funded-kickstarters-fail-to-deliver-backer-rewards/

    There's no guarantee you'll get your money back either: https://www.kickstarter.com/terms-of-use#section4

    But I love the concept of the Biopad, so hopefully they are not part of the 9%