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Critiquing Crowdfunding: Introducing “What the Fund?”

What the Fund? I love the crowdfunding concept. I’ve backed two Kickstarter projects so far, and I’ve been happy with the results. I really like the product launch model: what better way to know your product is going to be a hit than to have your crowdfunded project blow right past its goals? What a great way to both lower the amount of investment you need to launch a business and to prove that you’ve got a valid concept to investors.

But that’s the ideal case. A crowdfunded project is also an acid test for your idea. If it sucks, nobody’s going to buy in. The sad fact is that a lot of ideas suck, and failure to meet your funding goal can be a harsh reality check.

There’s a lot more to crowdfunding than product launches. Crowdfunding serves a wealth of social and creative projects as well, and they’re all subject to the acid test of having people buy in to what you’re doing. There have also been some great tongue-in-cheek projects like the now famous potato salad project.

The Downside of Crowdfunding

Sadly, this funding model has also attracted a fair share of opportunists; some who are committing outright fraud, some who think that making a poor copy of a successful project is going to let them cash in, and some who think crowdfunding is some sort of personal charity, that merely being needy is going to be enough to get money.

This is a familiar problem with sites that gain popularity, as the volume increases, the average quality of the content decreases. a number of sites have emerged that help with this by curating projects and presenting what they feel are the best. This is great but it doesn’t address the problem directly. For a while now I’ve thought that these “bad” projects really need some sort of critique.

Loyal followers will know that a few years back I had a brief flirtation with the idea of doing movie reviews. This endeavour was short-lived, largely because I found the average film to be awful. Being completely negative and ranting about how the art of making a good movie seems to have been lost in the big studios served nobody well, and as such it wasn’t that much fun.

Bad crowdfunding projects are another matter. There are ample resources available on how to structure a good project; they’re not intrinsically an entertainment experience — although the good ones benefit significantly from being engaging and entertaining; there’s also a significant downside to some bad projects: if you fund a bad or fraudulent one you get nothing and possibly lose money.

I also took a crack at doing video work with my stalled Venture Media Canada project [yes, I’m not ready to give up on it yet and am still calling it stalled against all odds]. Among the problems with Venture Media was the major pre- and post-production effort. An awful lot of work needed to go into a show, and with it not being my day job the original format was unsustainable.

So I’ve decided to take a shot at putting the two together into short video critiques of under-performing crowdfunded projects. I’ve created a new YouTube channel, What the Fund? and a Google+ page with the same name to offer short and hopefully humorous critiques of projects that aren’t (and probably shouldn’t be) doing so well.

Here’s the first one in the series, I hope you enjoy it! If you do, I’d really appreciate it if you shared these clips with others.

What the Fund? Episode 1

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