We’ve been curious about Kickstarter, the crowdfunding company. Why do entrepreneurs turn to crowdfunding, and why particularly is Kickstarter attractive to them?
I’ve been interested in the psychology of how funding-seekers choose Kickstarter. What are they trying to fund, and is what they are funding a lot different than what other entrepreneurs, who are choosing other means of funding, are doing? How does the Kickstarter choice feel on an emotional level? What does someone doing this go through from start to finish, or, in some cases, as they try to reach that funding cap?
We interviewed Corvus Elrod, a self-described “narrative designer,” who sports a really stylish mustache. Corvus has funded two projects through Kickstarter. One of them, a tabletop storytelling platform called Bhaloidam, is still in the process of seeking its funding trigger. Here are some of the reasons for his choosing the platform, and his description of what the experience has done for him.
What are the projects?
The first project was a Flash game called Addicube. The current project is Bhaloidam, a tabletop storytelling platform.
What did you feel when the first project got funded?
Obviously, it felt really good, very affirming. But it also felt a bit daunting because there was a lot of pressure not to let down the people who’d believed in me enough to invest in my idea. I’m working with another studio on this game and various life situation changes have slowed us down over the last year and we’re still working on it. I feel a bit odd about that at times, but at least we haven’t let the project completely die. The same can’t be said for one or two projects I’ve backed in the past.
What do you feel now that the other project is not yet funded?
It’s been a rollercoaster of emotion, but the prevailing trend has been anxiety. Addicube was quite modest and a bit of a side project. Bhaloidam is really my life’s work and I’m unwilling to compromise the quality of what we produce around it. That means we’re asking for considerably more money, yet making less than we did before.
Why do you think the other project has not been funded?
There are two primary reasons. The first is complicated, but involves the psychology of our funding target–$27,900. That total might not even cover all our expenses, production, import fees, shipping to backers, etc. But it’s perceived as being “too high” by some people and they shy away from pledging.
The second reason the Bhaloidam itself. What we’re doing is fundamentally different than anything else in the tabletop space. It’s part board game, part improvisational drama, part role playing game. There are people who immediately “get it” but a lot of people have difficulty wrapping their heads around it until they play it. This makes it tricky to promote successfully and reach everyone.
What did you want, other than funding for the project, out of your experience with Kickstarter?
You know, I tend to view Kickstarter as a promotional tool. The funding component is nice, but it’s almost secondary to me. And because the overt focus of the site is on the funding, it makes it a more forgiving space to experiment with your messaging. We track which piece of promotion brought in the most backers, what the most frequent questions about the product are, etc. If we were just straight-up marketing Bhaloidam, it would be too expensive for us–both financially and positionally within the market–to take such an exploratory approach.
What is Kickstarter effective at doing for you?
Being on Kickstarter lends a certain amount of credibility to the project. They have worked hard to maintain an atmosphere of respectability and creative integrity around their projects and it pays off. They also provide a certain amount of promotional assistance via the metrics that drive your appearance on certain “Discover” pages, their blog, and their “Project of the Week.”
They also provide a lot of information about how to run a successful project, including tips and tricks for compelling intro videos. And they change the options available for projects as they gather more and more data about which projects are successful. With Addicube, for example, we were able to take up to 90 days for our funding drive. But they discovered that the vast majority of projects that got funded did so in under 60 days, they restricted new projects to 60 or less.
And, of course, having such a firm deadline and funding target gives my studio a lot of focus and energy as we pursue our goal!