If you are not a regular reader of the Accessible Insights blog, it will not require much poking around here to discover that, along with my pet topics of inclusion, accessibility, disability awareness and assistive technology, I often write about entrepreneurship. In the spirit of "necessity breeds invention," I have been a solopreneur for years. Recently, I’ve undertaken a new venture.
It is this new venture about which I write today. Actually, I’m going to write about the process of getting my little project off the ground, with the assistance of Kickstarter. If you’ve been curious about Kickstarter and how it works, if it would be right for you, or if you are just delighted to have the opportunity to watch a business go down in flames, like the ghoulish fixation people have with another person’s tragedy, then you’ll get your fill here. I’ll either be the hero or the goat, and if you like the idea of rooting for the underdog, you just can’t beat the odds that are stacked up against me.
My little startup venture is called Elegant Insights Braille Creations. It is a line of jewelry and accessories that are embossed in Braille. So far, the business barely qualifies as a hobby. Still, my plan is to make a go of it, and that’s why I turned to Kickstarter.
In case you don’t know, Kickstarter is the largest of the new "crowdfunding" platforms growing like wildfire today. The upshot is that you create a project profile, upload all the relevant info, create a video, post product descriptions, ask for people to "kick in" some cash, promise them a reward for doing so, and hope your project can attract "backers" before the expiration date you’ve set for your project completion. Piece of cake, right?
According to the Kickstarter web site, www.kickstarter.com, just under half of all projects are successful, meaning that they’ve met or exceeded their funding goals in the allotted timeframe. That’s a bit intimidating. For those entrepreneurs who have found success, however, many of them have far exceeded their fundraising goals, and have gone on to take up and complete other projects.
The catch with Kickstarter is that you cannot post a project that is open-ended. All projects must propose a finite goal, with a specific end point. In other words, just saying that "I need money to start my business" is inconsistent with the Kickstarter guidelines, and your project will not be approved. All projects are reviewed by the Kickstarter staff before they go live on the site. You must also create and upload a video, wherein you can demonstrate your passion for your project so as to convince your hoped-for backers to contribute. This is where Kickstarter loses me. Without going into depth regarding my pathos about being seen in any sort of video, suffice it to say I’ll need to undergo some desensitization therapy before I tackle that particular aspect of the task. Furthermore, this feels just a bit like begging to me. I guess this is a personal weakness. I’ve never been good at asking for money.
As I learn the Kickstarter process, I’ll keep you updated. You can ogle to your heart’s content, especially if you’re one of those fascinated at being witness to a car crash in progress. Or, you can be in my corner and cheer me on as I blindly (literally and figuratively)feel my way through the minefield of funding a new business. I’ll also point out any accessibility pitfalls about which to be aware if you are a screen reader user and considering Kickstarter. Wish me luck, or pennies from heaven, or something.