Has this ever happened to you? You read about an amazing product that did insanely well with its funding efforts on Kickstarter, and you’re interested in getting it. You search and find…nothing. No trace of its availability, anywhere. Did they take the money and run?
Possibly, but a more likely scenario is this person with a great idea may have no idea how to manufacture their product at scale, let alone run a business – they are floundering about and backers getting impatient. Or perhaps, like failed would-be Facebook alternative Diaspora, they, “…had become so consumed with things like answering e-mails and making T-shirts for their contributors that they had little time to build the software.” The democratization of business investment that Kickstarter and others has provided has created a lot of opportunities. And a lot of headaches.
Sites such as TinyLightBulbs serve to partially address this by offering a centralized e-commerce platform for crowdfunded products and using a portion of the profits it makes to itself invest in currently active Kickstarter campaigns. But that’s only a small portion of what it takes to have a successful product launch, crowdfunded or otherwise.
CrowdHut, publicly launched this week, seeks to bridge the gap between crowdfunded idea and in-your-hand reality. And its got a collection of resources that just may achieve that aim. Merchant support activities like keyword marketing on your behalf and serving as a polished storefront are certainly helpful, but it’s CrowdHut’s team of experts where it stands to excel.
Of most direct relevance to would-be product launchers is Craig Shandler of Active Imagination – himself an experienced product marketer, “…responsible for directing worldwide sales of products in excess of $3 billion.” Lance White of UBS Financial Services is an active angel investor who, “…has assisted dozens of entrepreneurs by taking their ideas from concept stage to strong growth.” Jeff Herman’s speciality is bring books to successful publication, and has worked with many name authors. Eric Koenig of Koe Lab has over the past 20 years, “…invented and filed numerous patents in the arenas of Telecommunications, Entertainment, and Consumer Products.”
Impressive as these and other experts that CrowdHut offers are, the actual process of getting a product manufactured seems to be missing from among their collective skill sets. And as a merchant on CrowdHut, aside from it taking orders and requests for returns, you are entirely responsible for shipping and returns of product, a task that alone could consume substantial resources for a one or few person operation.
CrowdHut is certainly a step forward in helping people better realize their crowdfunded dreams. But there’s more work to be done for it, or somebody else, to do a complete job of it.
Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, global trend tracker, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations about, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media marketing.