Cars in the Wild: San Francisco

At the end of 2015 I dedicated my Instagram account exclusively to all the old cars I spot on the streets of San Francisco (photographing old cars is a hobby bordering on an addiction).

Then in the summer of 2018 decided to compile them into a hardcover book (layout in InDesign, retouching in Lightroom). Now the book is ready to be printed up on Kickstarter.

It’s been a labor of love. If love old cars, or San Francisco, or both, check out my project. It’s called Cars in the Wild: San Francisco.

Kickstarter Project Investigation

Kickstarter hires investigative journalist to dig into one of its biggest failures:

In November, the company behind Europe’s biggest ever Kickstarter project told its backers it was shutting down. The Torquing Group had raised more than £2.3 million ($3.6 million) to fund its palm-sized Zano drone, but after delivering only around 600 of the 15,363 units paid for, the company went into liquidation. Now, with frustrated backers still smarting from their loss, Kickstarter wants to find out what went wrong. The company has hired technology journalist Mark Harris “to write a story about the collapse of the Zano drone project on Kickstarter.”

As it was reported recently, about 9 percent of Kickstarter projects fail, but when they do fail, they fail BIG, it seems.




Nick Statt at the Verge on the Coolest Cooler Kickstarter disaster:

Coolest, the company behind a popular Kickstarter-funded cooler, is now selling its product for $499 on Amazon in an effort to raise enough money to continue producing new units. The news may frustrate Kickstarter backers, who were promised the product in February of this year. Coolest said today it now plans to deliver the last shipment of coolers to Kickstarter backers by April 2016.

In a video uploaded to YouTube, CEO Ryan Grepper said the Amazon sale is to “keep the lights on” and “make certain that every single backer’s Coolest can get made and shipped.” The problem lies in the cooler’s blending motor, which is made by a supplier that’s currently on strike, he said. Coolest has been unable to find a viable replacement.

As I’ve said before, making things at scale is not something you want to take lightly.

User interpol in the comments makes a great point:

Uhh, so $12,000,000 in funding — take off $1mil for Kickstarter fees — divided by 60,000 units is only $200 per unit.

This seems like a vastly underfunded project.

My two successful Kickstarter projects, Bicycles for Our Minds and Charms, Quivers, and Parades both involved two ingredients: paper and ink. Once your project involves electronics and moving parts it takes the complexity to a much higher level.

This doesn’t mean poster and book projects can’t be highly complex. Then can be.



White House Wants

A few weeks ago the White House reached out to Kickstarter to help raise money for Syrian refugees.

On one hand, this is very commendable (Kickstarter is donating 100% of their fee) and I think it’s great if individuals can donate but I can’t help but think that this request came from the U.S. government. A government that spends over $600 billion a year on defense.

How about the U.S. government throw a few billion to the Syrian refugees?




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I’m giving you your jeans back.

I launched a new Kickstarter project. It’s called The Phoenix Jacket.

I created it because I’m tired of having my iPhone 6 Plus jab me in the leg when I sit down. I’m also tired of trying to put my wallet in either my front OR back pocket. Jeans pockets were not designed for our modern world.

This is the part of my life where I realize necessity really is the mother of invention.



Indie Publishing

John Biggs sees the tipping point for self-publishing coming soon:

I’ve gone all in with the Indie publishing movement – I’ve released three books myself and I’ve done relatively well with all of them. But the fact still remains that the entire business of books is stacked against the Indie author. While the tools are far simpler than they have ever been, the perception that an Indie book is an inferior product, at least in the eyes of established media, is strong. But that’s about to change.

Progress has been made, but there’s still more work to be done.



Kickstarter Pitfalls

After raising $1 million, the super-thin CST-01 watch won’t make it to Kickstarter backers:

Nearly two years after “the world’s thinnest watch” was supposed to arrive to Kickstarter backers, the project has announced that it’s pretty much done for. It’s a disappointing update in the long saga of the $1 million campaign for CST-01, what was once supposed to be a stylish, 0.80mm-thick E Ink bracelet that displayed the time. The CST-01 project has been detailing its troubles for a few months now, but last week it informed backers that it no longer expects to fill all preorders or to find another company to take over production. It now expects to either liquidate all remaining assets or, if unable to find buyers, open up all designs and distribute and sell off as many remaining parts as it can.

After funding two Kickstarter projects (here and here) I can tell you these are the most important things to remember:

  • Do as much work up-front as possible—don’t just prototype your project
  • lock down a manufacturer you can partner with if your project gets funded
  • calculate the manufacturing costs for the minimum product volume and factor that into your funding goal
  • calculate all supply costs
  • calculate shipping costs
  • factor Kickstarter’s 5% cut
  • factor the 3-5% payment processing fee
  • don’t make your product at a loss—charge what it costs to manufacture plus a reasonable profit margin

I had to do a lot of preparation before I launched my most recent Kickstarter project. See, getting the money is the easy part. It really is. I’m not saying that because I think money isn’t important. If you produce a great video about a great product idea with great photography and desirable reward tiers, that money will come rolling in.

The catch is, once that pile of money comes in, you have to make it last. You would do best to address all the bullet points above once, twice—shit, make it three times.

I was only dealing with paper and ink with my projects. Producing e-ink watch bands is a whole other world.



“I just need a few million more, man…”

Despite a $20 million Kickstarter campaign, Pebble is in trouble?

The company, which recently raised $20 million in a wildly successful Kickstarter, currently has 150 employees and is still hiring. Even with the crowdfunding infusion – which amounts to about $18 million after fees – the company is shopping for VC money in order to maintain growth and turned to a bank loan “in order to stay afloat.”

These start-ups that need continual injections of money sound more like junkies than legitimate companies.

“I promise man, this is the last time I’m going to ask you for money… I’m cool, I’m cool. Vegas cleaned me out, but I’m a new man now.”