This morning, crowdfunding platform Kickstarter tweaked its rules to make it much easier for projects to list on the site, making it once again a viable home for hardware projects that had been heading over to rival site Indiegogo or using other crowdfunding portals. Back in 2012, Kickstarter cracked down on hardware products especially, because it was worried that backers wouldn’t understand that they were funding a potential product, not one that was ready to ship. It sought to stave off potential consumer disappointment if the product never shipped or shipped in a different form that what was promoted on the site.
This was good for backers, but frustrating for hardware companies, because they saw themselves limited on what was arguably the most well-known crowdfunding platform out there. Some still listed there, following the rules about limiting product representations to obvious renderings and making it very clear that this wasn’t yet a product, in search of am more mainstream market. Meanwhile, Indiegogo became a popular place for products made in people’s garages and on 3D printers. We also saw product manufacturing specialists such as Dragon Innovations launch crowd funding portals, or companies handling their own pre-orders using Lockitron’s open source crowdfunding software.
These can work, but I bet many companies will be relieved that they can once again turn to Kickstarter with their hardware projects. It’s tough to get traction on a less popular platform, especially if the project creators aren’t media savvy. In addition to loosening requirements around the types of projects and how they are listed, Kickstarter also made approvals automatic, as opposed to something its staff would approve. Now we’ll have to see if the hardware-focused projects return to Kickstarter or are finding greater success elsewhere.