Crowdfunding stories

This view out the window is that of a car in a yard with a hedge. But I can only tell you that because I took that photo, and you have to trust me it is so. I found crowdfunding is the same, a lot of trust in products or services you only get a hint at initially, and then the outcome varies as a consequence.

Crowdfund source and products are anonymised, as I focus on the process not the product.

New take on an old idea

A bright engineer came up w this great idea, to build a drone with counter-rotating propellers, not unlike the Soviet KA-32, that make is light and easy to handle.

Designing was delayed, then offshore manufacturing took them to the cleaners, and I never heard back from them. I stuck with the process, while many others took their money at the first offer of a refund.

Old take on a new idea

Blue-tooth is old tech, but all the rage for ‘personal tech’ are small devices to track your activity or gear, both handy to use and cheap to make, and that hasn’t kept Jawbone in the market.

My story lies in the delivery end: crowdfunding got me a device at ‘ten cents on the dollar’ — that worked as it was ridiculously oversubscribed — but it’s customs that nailed me: being shipped from the US the UK HMRC slapped a 30% duty on the full price, which ended up roughly 300% what I paid...

Where to from here

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had good results from to help friends’ medical and funeral costs worldwide, through a local cinematographer’s foray into disruptive filming, to an equestrian helping herself fund her competition. And I will admit to being an early adopter — hey! I was on the internet before the term even existed — and four out of six isn’t bad batting average, considering that we the consumer take all the risks. Of course the crowdfundee may beg to disagree, but it raises the following questions:

  • are the risks and rewards clearly stated at the outset? does a good job in that regard
  • but even if they’re stated, what are the real protections? Money doesn’t grow on trees, and if a fundee runs out of cash, it’s like any business
  • and what about the fine print? A lot of this is US-centric, and it behoves the buyer to be aware of the process, but with Amazon and Paypal making it all so painless, I guess I got caught out by being out of practice

Let me close with an interesting twist on internet orders, which many must be familiar with : batteries are notoriously hard to get to absolutely right specs on, and returns are well honoured by the vendors I used. But wait! Neither post nor couriers ship batteries outside their intended device, so there’s no way to return them — it begs the question how they get shipped to you in the first place — but between that and the cost of shipping and re-inventorying on such slim margins, vendors just refund you minus the (bogus) cost of shipping and ask you to safely dispose of the batteries locally.