Local makers react to Kickstarter’s new ‘Launch Now’ feature

Sixty percent of campaigns proposed to Kickstarter will no longer be required to receive community manager vetting. What we don't know: which 60 percent.

Visitors at Kickstarter's Open House in Greenpoint.

From the Kickstarter Instagram page.

TL;DR  In most categories, creators will no longer have to run their campaign by a community manager before going live on Kickstarter. If they so choose, they can simply “Launch Now,” according to a new blog post from Kickstarter CEO Yancey Strickler.

The post also announces simplified rules: that projects must make something, play fair and not engage in financial tomfoolery.

We reached out to a couple of local projects that were funded successfully on Kickstarter to see what they thought about the new rules.

Will Sakran created an Arduino for more easily adding sound to projects, called Foxonix. We wrote about it here. As a hardware project, he said he got considerable scrutiny from community managers. “My project was kicked backed to me a couple of times for changes and updates, mainly to better explain the entire hardware development process from beginning to end, and to better explain how I would execute the production phase,” Sakran said.

One hurdle for Sakran, as an experienced builder, was that he didn’t design by physical prototype. Instead, he made his design on printed circuit board software, which means he didn’t have a physical prototype to show.

In the end, Sakran wasn’t sure all that extra detail he was required to put on his campaign page made his campaign stronger.

Other changes have come with the announcement. Previously, makers could not offer different quantities of a product. Sakran wrote: “Since Foxonix is a development platform with a main dev board and any number of project boards, it would have really helped the funding if I could have offered a reward with multiple project boards included. I did have this as part of my original submission, but Kickstarter made me remove it.”

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This particular change prompted The Economist to write, in cheeky Economist fashion, “Kickstarter is a store, after all,” a follow up to one of the company’s more well known blog posts: “Kickstarter is not a store,” from 2012.

Sam Wander is the co-creator of the successful crowdfunding campaign for Game of Phones. The process of working with his Kickstarter community manager was swift, he said. Wander looked at the changes from the Greenpoint company’s perspective. “I don’t think anything was broken with the previous process, it was perhaps becoming hard to scale at the speed [Kickstarter] wanted,” Wander wrote. “Giving more people the opportunity to launch campaigns quickly is a great thing. I just hope the quality remains high, and that there is ample opportunity for good projects to be discovered, not buried.” 

Kickstarter broke $1 billion in pledges earlier this year.

The unanswered question for us in this new update is which kinds of projects aren’t eligible for Kickstarter Launch Now? “We’re rolling out Launch Now in stages,” the company wrote in its announcement post. “It’s currently available to 60% of projects, and we’ll be expanding it to more projects in the weeks to come.” Does 60% of projects mean that 60% of the categories are eligible? Or does it mean that their algorithm is going to greenlight 60% of initial proposals across categories. Kickstarter declined to clarify.

The company says a software program will run a check on draft campaigns. If certain unknown criteria are met, a campaign can use the Launch Now option. Campaigns will always have the option of going to a community manager for feedback, if they choose. Kickstarter has also released a Creator Handbook, ostensibly to give makers another way to get comparable input.

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