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This week has seen the launch at retail of Ouya, a small, $100 games console designed to play indepedendent Android-style titles. It can also be used to run emulators and ROMs Do You Use Video Game Emulators? [You Told Us] Do You Use Video Game Emulators? [You Told Us] I have been a gamer for as long as I can remember. Long enough, in fact, to recall my amazement at the graphics the Atari 2600 was capable of. In hindsight I realize they really... Read More , and/or as a media center using XBMC or similar piece of software. However, to get to the point when Ouya is available to buy through Amazon and in bricks-and-mortar stores, it first had to be funded through Kickstarter.

The Ouya story is an interesting and rather complex one: 63,000 people pledged $8.5 million, blowing away all expectations. The company then raised a further $15 million through VC funding, lessening the power of the Kickstarter campaign. The product has now arrived on store shelves before some Kickstarter backers have even received their consoles. Which has caused considerable angst and anger.

This is an extreme, yet fascinating, example of the positives and negatives of Kickstarter, which we’ll touch on below. Ultimately we want to hear your opinions on the subject.

This Week’s Question…

We want to know, What Are Your Views On Crowdfunding Through Sites Like Kickstarter? Kickstarter Kickstarter: Crowd Funding For Creative Businesses Kickstarter: Crowd Funding For Creative Businesses Read More is, for those new to the idea of crowdfunding, a website on which anyone can detail a project or product and ask others to financially contribute to it. It’s perfect for those who have exhausted more conventional methods of starting a business from scratch, and there have been some phenomenally successful Kickstarter projects 5 Of The Most Successful Kickstarter Projects Ever 5 Of The Most Successful Kickstarter Projects Ever Kickstarter has undoubtedly changed the world, enabling regular Joes to fund development and production for creative projects that interest them. while helping the creative types bypass the typical venture capitalists, costly bank loans, or soul-destroying... Read More funded to date.

However, not all of the products are worthy of being funded, and there have been some downright failures pitched through Kickstarter When Kickstarters Fail [Feature] When Kickstarters Fail [Feature] Crowd-funding has finally transformed from niche idea to mainstream concept. Credit for this surge in popularity can be thrown at the feet of Kickstarter and its contemporaries. Some highly publicized projects have raised millions of... Read More and sites like Kickstarter. When a project fails, it can fail spectacularly, and the people behind the project are left to pick up the pieces.

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Are you aware of Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, RocketHub and the like? Have you actively been involved in any of the various crowdfunding platforms on the InterWebs? If you have backed a project then how was your personal experience? Did the end result live up to your hopes?

Do you think crowdfunding websites offer a viable route for entrepreneurs and inventors? Does there need to be more stringent rules about who can seek funding and what happens if they don’t deliver on their promises? Let us know your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.

Drawing Conclusions

All comments will be digested to form conclusions in a follow-up post next week where we will detail what You Told UsOne reader will even win Comment Of The Weekwhich will be included in the follow-up post! What more motivation than that do you need to respond?

We Ask You is a weekly column dedicated to finding out the opinions of MakeUseOf readers. The questions asked are usually open-ended and likely to necessitate a discussion. Some are opinion-based, while others see you sharing tips and advice, or advocating tools and apps to the MakeUseOf readership. This column is nothing without you, as MakeUseOf is nothing without you.

Image Credit: Rocio Lara

  1. Lisa Santika O
    July 2, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    It's a clever idea, but at the end depends on your execution. We've seen good products fail to get any funding at all because of lack of updates, poor communication, or lame previews. On the other side of the spectrum, there are projects who got backep spectacularly but failed to meet the backers' expectation. I think it's one good way to get fundings for your projects, but keep a backup method in case it fails, and be honest in making your promises instead of listing things you can't realize later as desperate attempt to attract backers.

  2. Leland Whitlock
    June 28, 2013 at 6:53 am

    I have read a lot about Kickstarter and similar sites recently. One of the themes was how rich people often get pushed to give lots on these projects so avoid any bad press or what not. But on the other side of it you have some genuinely great ideas from people with few resources and this gives those people a great platform to take those ideas and fly with them turning dreams into reality. Kind of like the old idea of America being the land of opportunity. So overall I think it is a great platform but the people giving need to realize these ideas are a business opportunity and the ones doing the campaign are trying to start a business not be friends. For giving we might get an early model or just updates on the project based on what we give. We should not expect more. Also as with any business there are lots of things that can go wrong and often when trying to launch a product you don't have time for much else. We all need to be patient and not judge to harshly as long as we get whatever was promised.

    • Dave Parrack
      July 1, 2013 at 12:07 am

      I agree with much of what you say. There's a tendency to feel you're owed something for funding an idea on one of these sites, but really, you're just an early-adopting consumer. The people behind the products can be part of the problem though, as was the case with Ouya.

      • Lisa Santika O
        July 2, 2013 at 3:31 pm

        What was the problem with Ouya? I'm afraid I'm a little bit behind the news on this.

  3. Junil Maharjan
    June 28, 2013 at 5:30 am

    sites like kickstarter are really helpful for people who have great ideas and low funding. If the funding can be channeled properly and to the right products then these can really help in innovating newer technologies and arts or anything in that matter. But, some of the things can be really dumb.

  4. Derek
    June 27, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    I believe that KS can be a great way for consumers to help to contribute to the funding of a project or production of a product, and they are guaranteed a return on the contribution. For the producers, it's a great way to test the water to see if it is feasible to even make the product, and if there will be enough demand to make a profit on said product.

    Personally, I have used KS to preorder albums that bands make. In a market that is slowly crumbling, bands have had to turn to other ways to fund albums, and it seems that KS is a great way to do so. They offer cool rewards for helping fund the product, and in a way it seems like you are a part of the process of making the album by contributing. In the cases where I've used KS, I would have purchased the album at a retail store anyway, so why not contribute to the project, and maybe chip in a few extra bucks to keep the band around to make the music I enjoy?

    There are definitely cons to KS (possible higher cost of perks/products), but I think it's a great way to fund a product. Though some sites work differently, KS returns your money if they project doesn't get funded, so you won't lose your money, which is a great idea.

    • Dave Parrack
      July 1, 2013 at 12:05 am

      Would you ever fund hardware on KS? Preordering creative ventures is an interesting one, because it's essentially all about people saying we want it, so please make it. Whether it's music, books, or films.

  5. dragonmouth
    June 27, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    Just like with all investments, the first and foremost rule of crowdfunding is CAVEAT EMPTOR. Do not invest your family's grocery or rent money, no matter how wonderful the prospect is.

    Crowdfunding accomplishes two tasks, it performs rudimentary market research and provides funding that may not be otherwise available. The number of "investors" and the amount of money they invest gives some idea how popular the product might be. Venture Capitalists do not ususally deal in small amounts of money (less than 7 figures) whereas crowdfunding does.

    • Dave Parrack
      July 1, 2013 at 12:03 am

      Great points, well made. The market research factor is usually ignored but if a project blows up on KS then it's a clear indication there is a market there.

  6. SH
    June 27, 2013 at 4:28 am

    A similar situation occurred with the Limeade Blast battery pack. Funding was nearly 10x goal. The units were then listed for sale on Amazon almost as soon as the funding on KS was completed, and before all KS units had shipped. Price on Amazon was the same, or less than, the KS price. Quite a few backers left comments on the KS project page expressing disappointment with Limeade. My take: I got what I paid for and I don't think that there's any restriction that project creators can't sell elsewhere for whatever price they think will maximize their profits. They are running a business, after all.

    • Dave Parrack
      July 1, 2013 at 12:02 am

      It's a tough one. They're legally entitled to do what they want with their product, of course, but there's a definite moral question to be answered here. I can see why people feel let down after funding something on KS, but it suggests a misunderstanding of what KS is and how it operates.

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