Sunday, July 16, 2017

Crowdfunding: buyer beware

My opinion on crowdfunding (Kickstarter, Indiegogo): It's better for the makers than for the buyers.

 I've bought like two dozen products by crowdfunding. My results:
 - a couple of products I like (but could have bought later.)
 - A few products which turned out to be no good for me.
 - Several products which I've just never used.
 - many products which took over a year to arrive.
 - A couple of products which did not work.
- And the most expensive product of all of them, a serious investment (a mid-market 3D printer), turned out to be an elaborate hoax, and I lost a hunk of money. (And I was not being stupid, the smartest tech guy I know bought into it too.)

 I guess the point is that the savings is not worth the great risk, usually. If a product turns out to be good, you can get this fact confirmed by reviews after it's on the market, and the price difference usually is not big.

 And by the way, I don't think I've been unusually unlucky. I don't tend to be. For example I've bought *many* things on eBay, and almost never have I felt cheated. Just one real example comes to mind, and Paypal got me my money back pronto, something which does not happen with crowdfunding.


Anonymous said... I don't think buying and saving money are the objectives of crowdfunding.

Anon, good point. There is often a social aspect of crowdfunding and so on, it's complex. I think crowdfunding basically is a great thing, it has enabled many good things to become real. 

 But there are also tons of projects which are simply commercial products. There's often no particularly socially interesting aspect, it may just be a new drone or whatever. And just like a normal investor needs a reasonable chance that he will get more back than he puts in, a crowdfunder needs a reason to buy now and to take the risk, and usually that reason is "get it cheaper now" or similar.
 And I was aware of that risk, but I had no concept of how real and how high that risk was, and I think many others are in that boat too.