In any industry, there are the serious players and there are crackpots. Put a relatively new and massively growing phenomenon like crowdfunding together with an ancient human desire to explore and you can get some really hare-brained schemes.
You can’t blame people for dreaming. Or can you?
The schemes Gizmodo features are pretty out there.
In one case, a project raised $40.13 of its $80,000 goal, probably, according to Gizmodo, “because its plan makes no sense and appears to be written by an ESL hallucinogen enthusiast with delusions of grandeur.” Perhaps the surest proof of this fact was that the plan was to build hotels in space – with a budget of, ummm, $80,000.
Another laugh-inducer is the attempt by Bristol Spaceplanes to make affordable space tourism a reality based on an attempted (and failed) crowdfunding raise of 10,000 British pounds. And it sounds like they may have been in cahoots with the failed campaign for space accommodations.
“At Bristol Spaceplanes, we are proposing a straightforward way of slashing the cost of access to space. This would lead to most of us being able to afford a visit to a space hotel.”
Now, apparently, we have neither the means to get there nor the place to stay when we get there. Darn. Looks like it’s Napa Valley again this year.
These campaigns – and millions more – fail … and a great many of them rightly so.
But these amusing disasters betray some sad truths about crowdfunding.
Sad Truth #1: Anyone can launch a crowdfunding campaign – including people who shouldn’t be allowed on the interwebz. OK, so crowdfunding is one of the most democratic forms of revenue-generation – and that’s great. But the more buffoons the phenomenon attracts, the harder it is to find the cool, legit campaigns amid the flotsam.
Sad Truth #2: Good campaigns can flounder while bad campaigns can succeed. Blame democracy again, because ultimately the people decide. But just like in a democracy, money talks with an outsized voice. A good marketing strategy can work wonders, but success at crowdfunding, too often, means manipulating the system to the advantage of already deep-pocketed initiators. Consultants, purchased “backers,” and other fraudulent or nearly fraudulent strategies can boost a dubious idea while obscuring some awesome ideas.
Sad Truth #3: Crowdfunding mega-sites hurt the little guy and benefit the big guy. Ginormous multinational corporations have discovered crowdfunding as a tool for testing new products, building social media followers and even raising funds from unlikely sources. Who can fault them? It’s working. But that puts the very idea of crowdfunding at risk. When a tool for small projects gets coopted by a steamroller of global commerce, there’s little future for the quaint idea that crowdfunding can change the nature of the start-up economy.
Sad Truths #4 to 1,268: There are a whole bunch of Sad Truths about the way crowdfunding has been compromised by money, power and self-interest. But there’s also this:
1 Happy Truth About Crowdfunding: BidOkee is inventing a crowdfunding platform that revives the beautiful idea that crowdfunding was meant to be. We are creating a stand-alone, gamified crowdfunding platform that will let ideas shine by returning crowdfunding to its original dream. This is something worth checking out.