Journal of Vitriolic Observations: JVO Blog

Crowdfunding and Me: Kickstarter vs. IndieGoGo

A few years back, I started work on a book about the Chicago music scene in the 90s.  I spent close to two years conducting interviews, transcribing them, and formatting them into a readable context.  That book, "Chicago Rocked," had a publishing deal. Then it didn't.  

Once the publishing deal was over, my book was essentially dead.  The process had defeated me.  I had to let "Chicago Rocked" sit for a while before I could even talk about it again. After considerable time (two years), thought, and analysis, I made the decision to "crowdfund" the self-publishing of my book.  To make it happen, I turned to the then-new site Kickstarter.  Kickstarter collects pledges for projects, and then those pledges are applied to a goal amount that the project creator sets.  If that goal isn't hit, the pledges go away and the funding doesn't happen.

Using Kickstarter's 90-day maximum window for fundraising, I did everything I could to generate interest, from participating in a dozen traditional and non-traditional media interviews, posting countless updates and pleas across various social networking platforms, and making personal appeals to friends and acquaintances.  The result at the end of 90 days, as seen here, was close to the mark, but not enough to get the funding.  Three months after I launched my effort, the book was dead.  Again.

I haven't been thinking much about Chicago Rocked since the Kickstarter experiment. That is, until I got an unsolicited message from this guy, who helps run IndieGoGo, a new crowdfunding site.  I'd never heard of IndieGoGo, so I clicked over to check it out.  The first thing that struck me about the site is that it looks exactly like Kickstarter.  Shamelessly so.  The only (obvious) functional difference between the two is that IndieGoGo lets you keep the money you raise, regardless of whether or not your goal is hit.

I'm put off by IndieGoGo because its imitation of Kickstarter is so blatant and thorough.  I realize that imitation and mimicry of a successful brand are nothing new to the world of websites--or products, for that matter.  This just seems...not me.  

If I were to consider crowdfunding again, I'd likely return to Kickstarter.  The idea of generating some--but not all--of the needed funds for a project sounds dicey.  If only a portion of the money is raised, what does a creator apply that funding towards?  Isn't there an ethical obligation to provide contributors with a finished product?  Won't contributors feel "taken" if their credit cards are charged, but have nothing tangible from the creator in return?



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saipas said:

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If we were to play chicken and egg, I actually think IndieGoGo was there first. I know Kickstarter launched in April 2009, when it says on IndieGoGo's contact page that they launched in 2008 ( I was then assuming that the Kickstarter guys were the copycats. Anybody would confirm?

JVO said:


I'd be interested to know. Furthermore, if IndieGoGo was the first, which of the two came up with the layout/design both seem to now share?

naimas7 said:

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I have lost count of the amount of times I have heard that projects on Kickstarter ALMOST made it or ALMOST raised the funds only to get zilch. In fact, I bet some projects that do make great gains at the end come as a result of hard pressing friends and family to fill in the lack.

I read about this new crowd funding site and I think it will be much more creative and emotionally healthy for project people. Why? Well, first of all there are NO PROJECT DEADLINES!!! Now you won't have to race against the clock, hit people up for money or lose sleep. You can have the time to build an audience and fan base. That is worth it all right there. The site looks more visually interesting and orderly too.

It looks completely different than Indiegogo and Kickstarter and I think that is completely intentional.

Terence Chu said:


I can confirm. IndieGoGo launched in 2008 at the Sundance Film Festival while Kickstarter launched in 2009.

Considering the vast amount of crowdfunding platforms starting up every day, it's very hard to tell who's copying who at this point. However, I do know the people at IndieGoGo and I can tell you they are not the "copycat" type.

As for "ethical obligation", there are different ways you can do to pay your contributors back. IndieGoGo actually created the perks driven crowdfunding model, and campaigns with perks actually do better than those without.

"Chicago Rocked" sounds interesting. Keep it going.

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