This Project Raised Half a Million, Then Got F*cked By Kickstarter
Every Kickstarter creator dreams of having a wildly successful project. The fascination with Kickstarter and crowdfunding in general is that no one knows the potential of a project until it is launched. Think the Potato Salad that raised $50k+ or the Butter Knife that did $350k+.
For the creators of Luno Wear, they seemed to have hit the goldmine. In a mere 17 days, the campaign did over $420k. Founders of other watch companies like myself @YesManWatches and Alex @AzulaWatches were mind blown.
The watches Luno Wear created weren’t anything unique, but the title of their campaign stated, “73 Year Old Watchmaker Launches NEWEST Watch With Grandson”. In reality, their horologist grandfather may had advised them on design but their project was truly created by two twenty-something year olds.
With 18 days left in their campaign, Kickstarter suspended their project. Luno Wear had already raised over $420k and now that money vanished (creators only get money from Kickstarter after a campaign is successfully funded).
What’s most surprising about this suspension is that a week prior, Luno Wear had been the most popular project on Kickstarter, meaning out of the 8,000+ live projects, Luno Wear was number one, raising around $50,000 everyday.
Even more confusing is that two days prior to being suspended, Luno Wear became a Kickstarter staff pick (meaning Kickstarter basically utilizes their own network to promote your project).
In two days, Kickstarter went from putting Luno Wear on a totem pole to backhanding the project for its deceiving marketing approach and rebranding of existing watches made in China.
So what happened?
If you look at the comments section of the project, Luno Wear began to take heat from backers as they found near identical watches online for half the price. Additionally, backers began to realize that the 73 year old grandfather really didn’t have much to do with the design process.
Instead of focusing their project around their watches and who they are, Luno Wear told a different story around the art of watchmaking inspired by their family’s history in watchmaking.
Regardless of Luno Wear’s story, the most shocking matter is how Kickstarter suspended this project; in one email they went from the most trending campaign on Kickstarter to being suspended. No explanation was given as to what rules were broken and Luno Wear had been approved by Kickstarter before launch (Kickstarter has an approval process creators go through before launching a project).
Kickstarter was created as a platform to bring new ideas to life. Luno Wear’s misleading marketing approach led to their suspension. Though I agree with this suspension, I don’t think Kickstarter handled it in a respectable manner, as it would be like if you got fired by your boss through an email and didn't get your last month’s pay.
As Kickstarter becomes more mainstream, their platform seems to have become less transparent and more monopolistic. With that being said, there is nothing like the power behind a crowdfunding campaign as it enables a creator to test their product and build a community.
Disclaimer: I am not on the Luno Wear team and don’t work for Kickstarter. I haven’t talked to either of them regarding this issue, just found it to be an interesting story worth sharing.