Relationship Engine: Understanding The Purpose of Kickstarter

In the past, board game designers had very few options in finding ways to distribute their games; they could either put up a large amount of capital to make several copies of the game in hopes that they would be able to sell them or, if they were lucky, a distributor would purchase the game and sell it. These options are both still somewhat viable today but with the growing popularity of crowdfunding websites, especially Kickstarter, designers are able to sell their games independently with very little risk and virtually no up-front capital. This has opened the door for several talented designers to distribute and share their games with thousands of people who may not have found the game otherwise.

The success of Kickstarter has attracted several new designers and customers to the industry, leading to thousands of projects with varying degrees of professionalism and success. Many first-time Kickstarter campaigns have the expectation that they will use a campaign to make large profits. While this may happen in rare cases, the vast majority of these fledgling publishers find that the small profit they make is not worth the hundreds of hours spent running and fulfilling a successful project. In some cases, even a successful campaign can end up costing publishers money.

So why use Kickstarter for your project? Is it worth the pain? The answer is yes, but you have to understand the value and purpose of Kickstarter. If you are planning on using Kickstarter solely to make money, you better keep your day job. If you see your Kickstarter as a stepping stone in building something bigger, the time you spend working on your campaign is more likely to be worthwhile.

The Kickstarter website states that “backers are supporting projects to help them come to life, not financially profit.” Think about your Kickstarter campaign as a chance for your product to be given life; from there, you have to take that momentum and use it to make money – if that is your purpose. Kickstarter is essentially a relationship engine in order to build an audience for your product in the form of watchers and backers. Those backers are taking a risk on you, so you reward them by giving them the best deal possible – without losing money, of course!

Remember to keep this perspective as you decide whether a Kickstarter campaign is right for your product or project. A successful campaign involves large amounts of time and work before, during, and after the funding period. You must be prepared to accept that financial gains are likely not going to come from Kickstarter, but in retail and online sales after. The catch is that in order to be successful through retail channels, you have to spend the time and resources to ensure that your Kickstarter campaign is successful in the first place.