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The In Crowd…

The In Crowd

“Hold on, so it’ll scramble the egg without you having to take the shell off…?!”

I was absolutely bamboozled by the prospect that, somewhere out there, someone had invented another piece of kitchen genius akin to the banana-slicer or the apple-corer. Not only that, but the Golden Goose a couple of my friends ‘backed’ on Kickstarter was also, realistically, my first view into the world of crowd-funding.

We’re all full of ideas, aren’t we? Everyone’s got a stellar invention or idea in them somewhere, allegedly. Now, for those that are more likely to act on their inventorial impulses, the world couldn’t be any more tailored towards helping you turn your dream to a reality and either developing a specific ‘crowd mood’ around one product, or allowing an already functioning consumer base to collaborate on the developments of your burgeoning product’s next steps. Virtual qualitative research via proxy, effectively.

Recently, game developer Chris Roberts has seen his crowd-funded new game project become the most funded Kickstarter project in history – raising a grand total of approximately £75m. The problem he faces now is pleasing all of those people…all of the time.

There are now, as with every good idea on the internet, countless places where you can launch a crowd-funding project into the virtual ether – including tailored versions for specific genres of project. Pledge Music, as you can probably guess, allows bands to secure the funds for a new album, or similar, before committing to production costs. (Personally, I think this is the future of low to mid-level bands looking to get a foothold in the industry…but I digress…)

Being able to develop an idea before you commit to its long-term future could, potentially, breathe new life into that old-fashioned British spirit of invention we hear so much about. Integrally, the instant feedback and gratification can completely transform a seemingly mediocre idea into something much more complete and outstanding.

Crowd-funding, in the vast majority of cases, is risk-free. Tell people what you want to do, why, how and when by, then you ask for a certain amount by a certain time and watch the money fly in. Hopefully.

You need merely take a look at the list of ‘Most Funded’ projects on Kickstarter to see the diversity of ‘stuff the internet will pay for’ – longed-for computer games, longed-for film projects, educational projects for schools and, of course, cats.

From a consumer perspective, it’s a win-win, really. Stump up the money for a fictional project, if it stops being fictional – GREAT – you get your product. If it doesn’t get the funding it needs, you don’t pay for anything. GREAT.

However, from a developer/inventor’s perspective, throwing your idea onto the internet is, by absolutely no means, the ultimate solution. Being able to adapt and add important nuances as you go, while not a completely new idea, is revolutionised under this model.

Provided you’ve got your head screwed onto your shoulders correctly, the nous to generate a little extra insight into your projected fan-base and, generally, the ability to communicate your ideas to your audience, you should be on to a winner.

But, as we already know, for every good idea on the internet there are roughly 17 bad ones and when it comes to crowd-funding there are an absolute wealth of ideas that would never get off the floor, usually for more than one perfectly valid reason.

Without looking into exactly where the hunger for your prospective project is, why people will be bothered to help you in the first place, how much time, money and energy this ENTIRE project is going to take you, you’re practically dead in the water. For example:

Seriously though, there’s a raft of hilariously (and some tragically) proposed ideas and, maybe worse than that, half-baked ideas that have failed because the wannabe billionaires haven’t dotted all their I’s and ensured all their lasers won’t hurt people.

Crowd-funding is, in part, replacing singular investment from a wealthy business/benefactor and, much like podcasting has for the broadcast industry, opened up a whole new avenue of unfettered creativity, allowed to blossom with a raucous crowd gallantly cheering on from the side-lines.

However, there will never be a replacement for asking the right questions at the right time, to misunderstand your audience is to misunderstand your place in the market and, therefore, misrepresent their wants and needs.

Whatever way you look at it – your scrambled eggs will never taste the same again.

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