Kickstarter As A Marketplace

by Christopher Paul on January 30, 2013

Kickstarter is quite an amazing website. Not only have great things come from it, it’s changed the way products are brought to market. By garnering support for something in advance, capital for tooling and production can be funded in advance with less risk to the designer/manufacturer. Of course, it’s not perfect but, generally, I think it works. You only see things not working when projects get overwhelmed with support and/or unforeseen challenges affect production quality and output.

To prevent funded projects from going south — and to give backers more confidence their money isn’t just going to poorly planned projects — Kickstarter started requiring sponsors highlight risks and challenges. I’m not sure if listing them does much to make projects better unless sponsors plan to address the risk somehow but I digress.

By way of Better Living Through Design, I recently came across this project by Okum Made[1] who has designed some beautiful household goods. I’m very tempted to back the project and score some modern salt & pepper shakers or the storage tray + bowl. Besides the design of the offerings and the tiers for backers, specifically noticed his risks. He says they are:

In contrast to our experience in designing and building larger furniture pieces, The Made Collection will be our first serial production. To prepare for this transition, we have done production run-throughs to see where bottle necks exist and made plans for the difficulties of producing hundreds or even thousands of hangers, shakers, trivets and trays.

Basically, he’s saying they’ve always done custom, one off pieces and this is a deviation from that to a factory style production.

I suppose that’s a risk but what struck me is he’s implying the full design, prototyping, and pre-production trials are done. He’s just looking for buyers to get scale and whatever profits he wants. It’s not the typical Kickstarter model. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all, though. In fact, if he can say with confidence that he’s worked out as many design issues as possible up front, I’m more likely to back the project. In contrast, I’ve seen projects that are halfway through the design phase and the money pledged will be used for final tooling and prototyping before production (risking many iterations and delays). But I wonder if this will turn Kickstarter into more of a marketplace than a project funding tool. I imagine companies or people effectively commissioning limited run products with the site.

Either way, I think just means Kickstarter is going to have a long and prosperous future. I’m always excited at the amount of talent that produces fantastic projects. If I do back the project, I’ll be sure to let you know what I get.


  1. Who else thinks that’s a great name for a design studio that makes things? Am I right?  ↩

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