Batting .550: My Kickstarter Experience


Kickstarter is an awesome idea, and a pretty good execution of that idea.  It’s the leading crowd-funding site on the web.  Have an idea, but can’t or don’t want to go the traditional funding route?  Kickstarter may be the answer.  Need something that you can’t find?  If enough people would buy it, there’s a chance someone is trying to fund it via Kickstarter.  I’ve had some good experiences and a few bad ones.  Overall, I’m still a fan, though the inevitable conscription of the concept as a marketing tool for already existing products has taken a little of the fun out of it.

Here’s the best and worst products I’ve backed (Kickstarter lingo for purchased), and a complete list of every product I’ve backed, why I did so, and what I currently think about it.

The Absolute Best


EverDock.  By a long shot.  Until EverDock, I had not found an acceptable iPhone or iPad dock.  I bought several EverDocks, and have one on my desk at work, in my office at home, at the farm, and on my bedside table.  They work with my iPhone (including the new 6+) and my iPad.  They are great.  I love them.  I have also backed the maker’s next project, an EverDock for the car.

The Absolute Worst



Instacube.  A long time ago, back in 2012, I used a then-hot photo app called Instagram (yes, I’m sort of messing around; some folks still use it).  So when I saw a retro-looking cube that promised to display my nifty Instagram photos, and which would be in my hands in the Spring of 2013, I happily backed the project.  Over two years later, nothing.  Even if it ever comes- and I actually got an email this week saying that mine has finally shipped- I don’t care any more.  I no longer use Instagram.

A close second in the worst ever category would be the eleMount, an iPhone and iPad mount.  To say that this thing doesn’t work would be an insult to everything else in the world that doesn’t work.  It won’t stick to anything.  Except the bottom of the trashcan (but only thanks to gravity).  Which is where I put mine.

The Others

Here’s a brief look at everything else I’ve backed, from oldest to newest.

What: Mary Lou Lord’s new record.
Why: Because I like a lot of her music, and she will eventually do a cover of whatever song I pick.
Do I have it: No, it’s years late.
Does it work: Not yet.
What do I think:  I’m cool with it.  Mary Lou’s had some problems, and it’s OK.

What: The Possum Posse’s new record.
Why: Because of this.
Do I have it: Yes.
Does it work: Yes.
What do I think:  Great record from a great band who made the best videos ever.

What: gTar.
Why: At the time, my girls were taking piano, and planned to take guitar lessons.
Do I have it: Yes.
Does it work: Yes.
What do I think: It’s a good product, but my girls held a mutiny, that they will regret as adults, which led to the end of piano lessons.  Here’s sort of why.

What: Touch the Wall, a movie about Missy Franklin and Kara Lynn Joyce.
Why: Delaney is an elite swimmer.  Raina and I inadvertently backed this separately.
Do I have it: No, it’s late.  There are also questions about the promised signed photos.
Does it work: Not yet.
What do I think:  It’s been too long now.  My zeal for watching this has faded greatly.  This project had great promise, but was handled horribly.

What: MOS Menos, a system to keep your iOS cables in check.
Why: I have lots of iOS devices.
Do I have it: Yes.
Does it work: Yes.
What do I think: It works, exactly as promised.  Good work.

What: Bringrr, a device to help you keep track of items.
Why: It seemed like a cool device.
Do I have it: No.
Does it work: Not yet.
What do I think: It’s a little late.  The jury’s still out.

What: Flag, an app that prints and mails your photos for free.
Why: Ads on the back sounds like a good business plan.
Do I have it: No, it’s a little late.
Does it work: Not yet.
What do I think: I’ve lost confidence, based on the updates, that this project will maintain its focus.  Doubt I’ll ever use it.  Try Bill Atkinson’s PhotoCard app.  The prints aren’t free, but they are wonderful.

What: Neutron S, a shielded magnetic device to hold iPhones and iPads.
Why: I thought to use in the car, but now I use it to hold an iPad Mini on the wall (as a Sonos jukebox of sorts).
Do I have it: Yes.
Does it work: Yes.
What do I think: It does what it promises.  I’m happy.

What: The Right Arm, a universal tablet stand.
Why: I thought it would be cool to use to read in bed.
Do I have it: Yes.
Does it work: Not at all.  It broke within a week.  Plus it’s really hard to get the iPad off once you put it on there (I could engineer around that, but I can’t engineer around broken).
What do I think: It was a decent idea, but seems cheaply constructed.

What: imitone, a songwriting app.
Why: It was an impulse purchase.
Do I have it: Yes, at least an alpha version.
Does it work: I don’t know.
What do I think: I never got around to trying it, which is my fault, not theirs.

What: Ca7ch Lighbox, a wearable camera.
Why: Super cool concept, like a better GoPro.
Do I have it: No, but it’s not late.
Does it work: Not yet.
What do I think: I’m excited.

What: MOS Reach, an elegant and powerful power strip.
Why: I have never found a perfect solution to outlets near the floor and my gear on a desk.
Do I have it: No, but it’s not late.
Does it work: Not yet.
What do I think: It’s not a life changer, but I think it will be useful.

What: GripSnap, a magnetic iPhone holder for taking photos and video.
Why: I shoot 99% of my photos and videos with my iPhone.
Do I have it: No, but it’s not late.
Does it work: Not yet.
What do I think: I think my iPhone 6+ is really big.  I hope it will fit.

What: LIFT, a sitting or standing “smart” desk.
Why: I’d love to have a stand up desk, but only some of the time.
Do I have it: No, but it’s not late.
Does it work: Not yet.
What do I think: I think it’s a cool concept.  Looking forward to trying it.

Batting .550 would make you a baseball star (and get you banned for juicing), but when almost half of your backed products are broken or late, that’s not a hall of fame situation.  Even so, backing these sorts of projects is inherently more risky than ordering an existing, and likely customer-reviewed, product from Amazon.  All things considered, I’m moderately satisfied with my Kickstarter experience.

How about you?