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Kickstarter vs Indiegogo 46 Tech Campaigns Compared

As some of you may know, I am a bit of a fan of Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns.

So much so, that in the last year or so I’ve jumped on 23 Indiegogo and 23 Kickstarter campaigns over the last year – I’ve gone ahead and drafted up some images above of some of them.  At this point, I think the mail lady has started planning revenge on me for having to delivering tons of little packages to my door.  But I have had some interesting discoveries over the last year and there are definitely some risks and challenges that I would like to share with others to help them in the starter / backer process.

What make a campaign run well?  What are the warning signs to watch out for?  And what platform has safer projects?  I’ll dive into these as I go through the campaigns below.

IndiegogoKickstarter

Please note:  The following article is opinion based, it is based on my experience only and to a select group of campaigns under technology.

Protecting Backers and Support

When comparing protection and support for these two giants, its important to remember how they make money.

Both Indiegogo and Kickstarter take a portion of the money raised on campaigns and neither offers protection for backers – nor do they refund their portion of the funds if a project turns out to be a scam or a failure.  Kickstarter has their rules, and Indiegogo has theirs, however, its in their best interest at the end of the day for a project to exist (regardless of it succeeding or failing) in order for them to earn income.  This means, as a backer, it is in your best interest to ignore all of the marketing and branding and information that starters will throw at you (and the same goes for what the Kickstarter and Indoegogo websites will throw at you).  Both groups want your money.

When it comes to troublesome projects, the two giants have different methodologies.  Kickstarter has “tougher” rules and will shut down projects that appear suspicious or have enough complaints.  Whereas Indiegogo is much more relaxed, and even after having thousands of reports from users, has left projects running to collect money.  I’ve found the quality of Kickstarter support is generally higher, and Indiegogo tends to use automated responses for most of their interactions or ignores requests for support.  In fact, for the most part, you will feel like there is no support budget within Indiegogo (and you would be right – its kind of what they originally intended as they built Indiegogo with the intention of being hands off).

As a result Kickstarter tends to have more regimented projects and Indiegogo tends to have more “do what you want” projects.  Both come with advantages and risks, but at the end of the day though both groups take money and if you lose your cash they will not be there to help you.

Verdict:  Kickstarter gets the edge, for making some kind of effort.

Comparing Projects

Here is a high-level breakdown of my experiences to date. I think that these two charts highlight the experience beautifully and in the case of Indiegogo, I supported the same campaigns multiple times in some cases before I stopped using Indiegogo altogether.

Kickstarter:

  • 21 of 23 Delivered Successfully
  • 2 Outstanding But appear to be legitimately running late
Project Price Delivered Experience Comments
Circuit Scribe: Draw Circuits Instantly
45 Got it On time Haven’t used it
Stress Free Great Tool for Breadboard:Wire Stripping Gauge!! 41 Got it On time Great for gifts
The Lil’ Nardo! – Mini Arduino Leonardo Compatible Dev Board 57 Got it On time Tubby little Arduino
GestureR – Arduino-compatible Gesture Sensing Module 33 Got it On time Looks really slick
Planets³ 90 Got it On time Received the Beta on time
MicroView: Chip-sized Arduino with built-in OLED Display!
95 Got it On time Manufacturer sent double due to a hardware issue with first gen
The Arduino Compatible 4×4 Keypad Matrix Processor Set 48 Got it Early I love Patrick’s kickstarters – shipping happens on day of project closure
AgIC Print – Printing circuit boards with home printers 29 Got it On time Haven’t used it
Digispark Pro – tiny, Arduino ready, mobile & usb dev board! 309 Got it On time Ended up spending another 500 on add-ons, oops! Great support team
Arduino as ISP shield, supports Atmega328/1284 Attiny85/4323 40 Got it On time Better than the Adafruit kit which didn’t work
The Arduino Compatible Infrared Learning Processor Board Set 58 Got it Early I love Patrick’s kickstarters – shipping happens on day of project closure
Raspiado – the USB hub that fits your Raspberry Pi 45 Got it Ran late Haven’t used it
Biscuit Board :Solderless Prototyping Board! 66 Got it On time Great for gifts
The ICU-Duino Motion Sensor Arduino Shield! 16 Got it On time Haven’t used it
The Arduino Compatible Multi-Program Laser Trip Wire Set ! 47 Got it Early I love Patrick’s kickstarters – shipping happens on day of project closure
Cake Board : New LEGO® Friendly Solderless Breadboard! 44 Not yet Very late Waiting on arrival
TinyScreen: A color display the size of your thumb! 80 Got it On time Accidentially received a wrong part, good support, replaced quickly
RaspiVoice 29 Got it On time Haven’t used it
MangoCube; the Pocket sized Arduino compatible board 40 Got it On time Haven’t used it
The RFID123 Arduino Compatible RFID Reader – Decoder Set 89 Got it Early I love Patrick’s kickstarters – shipping happens on day of project closure
SuperDuino: Arduino Compatible + Color Display + Acceleromtr 60 Not yet Little Late Shipping confirmation received
SunAir Solar Power Controller Board/Tracker/Phone Charger 30 Got it On time Haven’t used it
Pidapter converts Raspberry Pi B+ Pins to Sockets 19 Got it On time Haven’t used it

Indiegogo:

  • 13 of 23 Delivered Successfully
  • Several were scams, complete failures, or have taken over 1 year + to ship
Project Price Delivered Experience Comments
Dinner Table Epics Fantasy Adventure Graphics Series
98 No Negative Fought for a year for a refund
Dinner Table Epics Fantasy Adventure Graphics Series 27 No Negative Fought for a year for a refund
Dinner Table Epics Fantasy Adventure Graphics Series 27 No Negative Fought for a year for a refund
Dinner Table Epics Fantasy Adventure Graphics Series 27 No Negative Fought for a year for a refund
3Dsimo: The Next Generation of 3D Pens 85 Partial Negative Not all of the reward was delivered, wont answer support
Iteaduino Lite – Most inexpensive full-sized Arduino derivative board
20 Yes On time Resulted in me falling in love with iteadstudio
Bladuino Pro Mini 40 Yes On time Bought another 20, giving me a lot of spare micro arduinos
BE SHIELD – ARDUINO’S BEST MATCH 50 No Scam This was a scam project, netting almost 1million across a series of projects
Bladuino Pro Mini 4 Yes On time Just a programmer for the Bladuino
NavSpark: Arduino Compatible with GPS GNSS Receiver 33 Yes On time Great concept, great communication
NavSpark: Arduino Compatible with GPS GNSS Receiver
15 Yes On time Great concept, great communication
Bladuino Pro Mini 40 Yes On time Bought another 20, giving me a lot of spare micro arduinos
3Dsimo – The Next Generation of 3D pens 49 Partial Negative Not all of the reward was delivered, wont answer support
EmoSPARK – First A.I. Home Console 349 No Negative Over a year, still no delivery. Unsure if it is a scam or not.
Gamebuino: an Arduino handheld console 50 Yes On time Perfect, made a great gift
Gamebuino: an Arduino handheld console 50 Yes On time Perfect, made a great gift
u-nex – $9 – Arduino, USB, Atmega328p, FTDI! 60 Yes On time Haven’t used it
Quickey the key that opens everything but doors 37 Yes Late Some backers haven’t received their rewards, put stores before backers
ButtonDuino – A Button-Sized Breadboard Mountable Arduino 17 Yes On time Haven’t used it
Arduino Project Handbook 30 Yes On time Bought for a learner, great book, great colour and effort. Love it
Picoduino – small arduino derivate 15 Yes On time Haven’t used it
Nextion: a cost-effective high-performance TFT HMI 10 No On track Love itead studio
Nextion: a cost-effective high-performance TFT HMI 10 No On track Love itead studio

Verdict:  Kickstarter definitely wins here.  As the saying goes: If you have to explain it, there is something wrong.  You can see above that even though the Kickstarter campaign list has about twice as many real campaigns, it has a much higher success rate over Indiegogo campaigns (and as a result, the table is much easier to read).

Core Differences

One of my favorite parts of Kickstarter, is that you can track what was (and wasn’t) delivered as well as making notes to yourself.  With that said, trying to browse your backed project history can be challenging because it isn’t easy to get a simple list of links for what you’ve done in the past for tracking.  Being able to access the messages and success rates from a single dashboard is handy though.

An advantage to Indiegogo is that you can contribute to the same campaign more than once and the consolidated dashboard has hyperlinks to the projects that are only one click away.  Outside of this, the Indiegogo website feels about 5 years older than the Kickstarter website.  And the support team rarely responds if ever.

Verdict:  Toss up between getting multiple rewards (Indiegogo) and a cleaner dashboard (Kickstarter)

Payment Systems

Both include the ability for a quick payment solution.

Kickstarter uses Amazon payment systems and Credit Cards.  This is uncomfortable for users who earn their living on PayPal.

Indiegogo uses PayPal and Credit Cards.  This allows for the same purchasing power as Kickstarter … plus PayPal.

Verdict:  Indiegogo, It’s 2015 – users should be able to pay with PayPal if they want to and don’t mind the fees.  A lot of people in the industry are paid in PayPal these days and excluding it on something that relies heavily on technology is a bad idea.

Backer Clubs

Not really a comparison but of note, I (temporarily) joined an elitist backer club for Kickstarter a while ago to see what the fuss was about.

The concept is great, that is, backers can discuss projects prior to jumping in and help people create projects.  They make you go through leaps and bounds to join (you need a minimum number of projects backed, and a tag on your profile) but the process was fairly painless and automated.  However, once I made it past all the hoops – I found that the backer club just duplicated the information already on the Kickstarter website.  Worse, they were actively promoting projects that were clearly scams or just really bad ideas.  I found myself getting several messages a week from the backer club about a project where the person leading has clearly scammed users three times before.  I did not stay long, after all, who wants to just get more useless advertisements?

Verdict:  No win or loss here.  Just stay away from Backer Clubs.  You don’t know those people, and they have their own agenda (which only includes you as a commodity).  There is no real advantage to joining them.

The Results

Based on this, I would say that Kickstarter definitely still has the advantage and neither has it right just yet.

The two most critical points for a backer (better protected experience, and a higher success rate) are clearly in the favour of Kickstarter in my opinion.

Tips for New Backers

When looking for a project to back, consider the following:

  • Does the backer have a history of success with comments in previous projects that show they delivered on time?  A previous success rate means they have more riding on the success of this campaign.
  • Is the price too low for the product?  Be cautious, if it seems too good to be true, it just might be!
  • Are they running multiple campaigns?  People struggle to handle a single campaign!  Running multiple is near impossible for a small team.  Be cautious of anyone with multiple open campaigns (especially if there are no successfully closed ones).
  • Watch out for prices in EUR or high priced shipping.  Some campaigns low ball on the campaign page and make up for it with currency conversion or expensive shipping.
  • Check the images, videos, and consult with people in the industry.  That smart projector watch campaign that seems too good to be true, that uses amazing technology, just might not be feasible in the real world.
  • Remember:  The images, videos, and descriptions are all hypothetical in most cases.  That means the products don’t exist yet, the purpose behind a backer project, is to get funds to build the product.  Take the images and designs with a grain of salt, but remember too that they are only concepts.  I will take a project with a good design and a not-so-polished looking concept, over a project with an outlandish concept any time.
  • Do they have true information in the project risks?  If they had failed projects before, that should be reflected in the risks.  Do they appear to have no concerns?  Well, I’m a backer who’s funding a project that could fail – I see risk everywhere.  If the campaign owner does not, they may not be equipped to handle a campaign.
  • Find great campaign leaders with amazing track records such as Patrick (Arduino laser tripwires, great video documentation, small company, and always ships unbelievably fast – yes please!), iteadstudio (big company that is backer focused, low risk and great products, yes please!) or any other campaign leader you trust
  • Watch social media and check what other backers think.
  • Complaining out-loud online can be detrimental to the project.  You want them to succeed (so you can get stuff!) which sometimes means biting your tongue more than usual.  Its best to try and hit them up over a private message or email first.
  • Accept that no matter how hard you try, some campaigns fail, and you can lose money.

Tips for New Campaigns

  • Communicate, communicate, communicate.  Providing accurate and honest communication is absolutely critical, in fact, there are entire industries in business dedicated to this exact thing and it is what can make a company sink or swim on social media.
  • Become social media aware.  Get on twitter, facebook, instagram.  Get your message out there.  Get on boards and forums.  And if you can, get interviews on related blogs and websites – you want to be part of the community.
  • Just starting out?  Get support, find a group that will help you get your project started.  Find other like projects that you can integrate with.
  • Provide the backers with something that is affordable, reasonable, and of importance to jump on.  I don’t want to back a 5 dollar project, only to have it go on sale the day after at 4 dollars a unit. Likewise, I don’t want to spend 60 dollars for what I know is 15 dollars of electronic components.
  • Shipping matters, the number one reason I back out of a project is because I don’t want to pay 10 dollar shipping on a 5 dollar item.
  • Get smarter about currency.  I don’t like seeing everything in Euro’s when the company is US based, and I’m paying in USD or CAD.  Yes, it makes it “look” cheaper – but the checkout doesn’t lie and we know we are being mislead into purchasing.
  • Stay on top of comments.  Most angry commenters will change their tune once they know you are listening, understand their concerns, and are working towards a common solution.
  • Last one!  Again, communicate, communicate, communicate.  I would rather know a project is struggling to obtain a part, than to wonder if the project lead took the money and ran off to a small place in China (Dimitri and Harold, yes I mean you).

This concludes my Kickstarter versus Indiegogo breakdown.  Have you had some incredible successes or extreme failures with these two juggernauts?  Or maybe you’ve had the opposite experience?  Share your thoughts!

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