Offering multiple tiers of your product or service is very effective as you are likely to have an option that accommodates everyone’s budget. For 3D Printers offer a DIY kit and Assembled (out-the-box) option if possible.
Offering an Insiders option for a Backer to meet with the project team, visit the factory or facility, and other exclusive options, appeal to businesses, schools, nonprofits, news agencies, and entrepreneurs.
Offering a rewards or gift card option was highly successful for campaigns like the Rapide 3D Printer, which offered double or more in discount for what you paid for the reward card. For example, a $150 reward card entitled you to $500 off the price of this 3D Printer!
Check The Expertise: Anyone can Crowdfund a product or service. For a 3D Printer Crowdfunding campaign we recommend to check the experience level of the person or people working on the project. This doesn’t mean to not Back a project in which the person or team doesn’t have a degree in Computer Science, Robotics, etc…; this means to view the profile of the team members (which should be made available on the campaign page; if not, request that they add it!). Look to see if the person/team has other successful products/services.
Risks Declared On The Campaign Page: As far as we are aware, every Crowdfunding site requires the entity seeking funding to place a Risks and Challenges section informing potential Backers what problems have been or possibly will be encountered. If you don’t see this section, especially for a 3D Printer, request that it be added!
Deadlines: We generally don’t recommend Crowdfunding a product or service if you have a strict deadline by when you will need the 3D Printer (or other machine) or service; exceptions are that there are campaigns in which the product or service is ready to go but the manufacturer of provider is using the campaign to advertise, offer specials to early adopters, or are funding a simple improvement that will be easily adapted to the existing product/service. We still recommend you carefully read the Risks/Challenges section of the campaign page as well as any delivery time frames if they don’t appear in that section.
The Unexpected: Though this is certainly not exclusive to Crowdfunding campaigns, be aware that functions or features of a product or service may change after you fund it. You normally have the option of a refund but take care to notice whether the option you are funding is refundable or not. Non-refundable options normally clearly state so. If it isn’t clear whether a campaign option is refundable or not make sure to ask before you Back the campaign! Set realistic expectations regarding the project so that you are fair to yourself and the entity seeking funding.
Risks To The Host (Business or Service Seeking Funding)
Changing Their Minds: Usually not possible when funding through a financial institution or venture capitalist, at least without penalty to the funder, due to contract; Crowdfunders may change their minds about Backing your product or service. We haven’t seen this adversely affect the success of good campaigns. We have seen the outcry for refunds from very few campaigns in the 3D Printing world and it is usually caused by the entity seeking funding not meeting at least the basic expectations originally presented in the campaign by changing features and options during that campaign . This may also happen off of the Crowdfunding platform after the campaign is successfully funded but the expectations aren’t met in the delivery phase. If you are realistic about the Risks and Challenges regarding your project as well as your original monetary and feature goals of your project before starting, it is highly unlikely that you would have to be concerned about this.
Negative Public Relation (PR): When you fund through a financial institution it is highly unlikely you would be exposed to this if your project doesn’t go as planned. If you use a venture capitalist, whether a firm, individual, or group of individuals, you may have limited exposure among other venture capitalists who may refuse to fund any subsequent attempt. Chatter among these usually close knit groups “should” be prevented by your use of a Nondisclosure Agreement (NDA), depending on how it is worded of course. There aren’t many risks for the person seeking funding via Crowdfunding. As the Host the only true Risk we see with Crowdfunding is that if you do not meet expectation the power of Social Media becomes a double-edged sword which can leave your budding business or project with a very colorful “black eye”. Set realistic expectation for your project and to the Backers. Be completely open and honest in the Risks and Challenges section of your campaign. If you search successful project on Crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter or IndieGoGo you may surprised how may campaigns are successful, and very much so, even with a long Risks and Challenges section. Crowdfunding is a community in of itself and communities value honesty, especially in the Open Source world!