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Review: Max Playing Cards and Kardify on Crowd-Funding Part II: What Works, What Doesn't and the Future



Kickstarter has been enormously successful helping pioneer the crowd funding of creative projects. The model is to set a fundraising goal. If the project meets its goal, the money is transferred to the creators to fund the development of the project. Kickstarter collects a 5 percent fee, the creator gets funding, and the backers get the satisfaction of sponsoring a new idea.

In the second part of our crowd-funding review, we will look at what works, what doesn't work and the future of crowd-funding. We have invited several project creators who have successfully completed and delivered on their campaign to this dialogue.

Join Lotrek of Half Moon Playing Cards,  Randy Butterfield of Midnight Card Company, Juan Solorzano as well as Max of maxplayingcards and Ivan of Kardify as we chat about this popular crowd-funding platform. Enjoy!

Max: Kickstarter is a fantastic idea to help small creators to become their dreams a reality. Regarding playing cards, and working with big companies such as USPCC, it is almost impossible for a talented (or not so talented) creator to print a deck with a minimum edition of 2,500 units and all the expenditures regarding shipping and publicity. They can promote their work and get funds without big risks because if they don't have funds enough, the investment hasn't to be too big. Kickstarter is also a huge showcase that is promoted almost by itself as it connects people who participate in social networks and forums, as well as bloggers who spread the voice about projects and creators.


GROTESQUE Playing Cards by Lotrek

Lotrek: Agreed, the fact that within Kickstarter a huge audience for playing card projects has been built, is the main advantage. Makes you confident that if you have a powerful work, you won’t get lost. It’s also a great tester regarding how well will your deck do later in the market.

Ivan: I think Kickstarter has change the landscape of the playing card industry. Today, we have so much more choices and the ability to discover new and talented designers and artists. I must say, even with the increased in the number of projects, the quality of the decks that is coming is out is incredible!

Lotrek: As a creator, something else that I really like is the direct contact with your backers/buyers. The feedback you have from hundreds of people during the campaign is very empowering and also helps you to avoid or repeat mistakes. You cannot have this opportunity when you just design a deck, have it printed and then throw it in the market.

Ivan: Having completed your own successful Kickstarter campaign, what do you guys think works?

Randy: I don't think anyone can say in all honesty that they know exactly what works on Kickstarter. Having a project that is well thought out and shows the potential Backers exactly what they're Pledging towards is a great start to a successful campaign.

Juan: I think what works on Kickstarter is knowing what kind of projects will do well, especially if executed correctly. The most important thing about any Kickstarter project is to follow the guidelines provided on the Kickstarter school page. That's exactly what I did, and it was very critical to do so. I have seen many projects that skip important parts such as not having a video, and either do not get funded or barely make it. If they had a video, I am sure that their funded would be much more and they would hit their stretch goals. So, the guidelines of having a successful Kickstarter are there, let's take advantage of them!

Ivan: For creative projects the Kickstarter model works well- collect money first, deliver product later. As long as the creator is genuine, you can expect that they’ll deliver something. However, many projects are left unfulfilled and this presented Kickstarter with a problem. It doesn’t keep track of projects after the funding is delivered.  It doesn’t monitor progress, offer assistance, or enforce refunds. Kickstarter recognized this—and changed its guidelines to make it clear that consumers shouldn’t expect fully finished products. I think that doesn’t work for me in Kickstarter. No accountability on their part. What about you guys think?

Max: Agreed, for me it is the protection against scammers and liars. In my opinion, Kickstarter acts as an accomplice to the "crime" when a creator cannot or just doesn't want to fulfil the promise. Kickstarter takes its percentage and washes its hands when backers don't receive their promised reward. This lack of commitment extends to credit card companies that are shielded from these situations. Furthermore, if the backer is outside the USA, international laws of many countries don't includes laws to regulate such situations, mainly because the pledges are intended as donations. Kickstarter procedures should be reviewed for these cases (that I am sure are the less), but I think this is something that goes against their interests.

Lotrek: I cannot say that there was something that didn’t work. There are always malicious people who will cause problems but the percentage is so small that it is not worth mentioning.

Ivan: How about from a creators perspective?

Randy: No matter how buttoned-up a project is, or how great everything looks, it will be a tough sell if the Kickstarter crowd isn't interested in the subject matter. The Imperial Deck had that problem. I chose the artistic subject matter more for myself, and neglected to take into account the age range of most of the Playing Card community. I will not make that mistake again!

White ORNATES by Randy Butterfield

Lotrek: As for me,  the annoying thing about Kickstarter is the fact that it’s only open to creators from specific countries. I cannot understand it and it causes me many problems as I am a Greece based creator. I hope they’ll change that in the near future.

Ivan: I think this will happen eventually. Kickstarter have expended its platform to Australia and New Zealand late 2013. It will be a matter of time before Kickstarter expand to different regions such as Asia and Europe. This will make it much easier for creators from in that region to launch their projects and we will definitely see more backer funded playing cards. What about you gents, where do you think crowd-funding will go in 2014?

Randy: I think crowd-funding will keep going strong in 2014. I could see one or two upstart companies trying to come in and take some of Kickstarters monopoly, but I wouldn't take the bet on them being successful.

Max: The playing cards projects have raised a lot along last year so I imagine they will be increasing day by day. The quality of the decks is getting better too so there is a natural filter that combines the experience of the backers and the quality of the projects. Otherwise, the increase of the shipping rates and the insane (and unjustified) increase of the prices for decks will make many people to give up pledging too or, at least, be much more selective with he projects they back.

Ivan: Adding to that is the fact that not only does international backers have to pay increased shipping rates but also transaction fee for credit card through Amazon Payments. I really hope Kickstarter introduce other payment option such as Paypal. How about you guys? Where do you think crowd-funding will go this year?

Lotrek: I really cannot predict. There was a plethora of playing card projects that got funded in 2013 although there were many lazy money grabs among them. I tend to think that people will become more selective in the future.

Alice of Wonderland Gold Playing Cards by Juan Solorzano

Juan: I think crowd-funding will keep growing and will become the most popular method to start a business - that is my goal. I want to start my own company, make my own rules and work my own hours. I am willing to do what it takes, and I am also learning by some mistakes that all entrepreneurs face early on. Websites such as Kickstarter will create a lot more new entrepreneurs in 2014, some will achieve great success, and some won't. Crowd-funding is gaining media attention and its going to be the way small businesses get funding without ever going to a bank for loan. I also like the all or nothing structure of Kickstarter to fund projects, and the rewards method of giving back something of value to the many backers.

We want to thank all the awesome creators who joined us for this discussion. As we have seen, Kickstarter offers creators an outlet to project their creativity and showcase their amazing talent. At the same time, this platform connect creators with the community giving them direct access to feedbacks, advice and other resources. Regardless of some drawbacks with this popular platform, crowd-funding will continue it's amazing growth and more unique and beautiful decks will be made available to the community.
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