Kickstarter

A Future So Bright You'll Need 3D Printed Shades

ProtosThe 3D print-for-pay market is set to explode. Recent advancements in 3D printing, fueled in part by investment from crowdfunding initiatives, are creating a demand for 3D printed objects. Not only are consumers purchasing 3D desktop printers for home use, they’re paying others to print on their behalf, locally at 3D print shops, and online via web-to-print (W2P) sites. An entire industry is being developed to support this demand, creating opportunities from creation to delivery. I’m so bullish on this market that I recently created a blog to cover it and promote its growth.

In 2008, I had the opportunity to partner with the University of Cincinnati’s College of Business and guest lecture a group of undergraduate students. We tasked an Internet Marketing class with developing niche websites that would sell printed products to consumers. The class broke into groups, developed their pitches and shared with the group. We voted and the group elected to move forward with a site that would allow consumers to design and order business card-sized mini resumes. We determined what platform we would sell on, how we would market the site, and how we would produce our product. All we needed was financing.

Crowdfunding has the potential to remove the financial barrier - especially for those in the 3D printing business. Crowdfunding projects can be created quickly and inexpensively, often requiring little more than a working prototype and a kick-ass video. Those economics get even better when your prototype IS your product, as is the case with items printed on demand, in 3D. Several 3D printing projects have already successfully funded on crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Even though most of these are related to 3D hardware and software, they’ve paved the way by creating a lot of buzz and educating potential backers about the technology.

Which leads to a thought...maybe there’s a formula here for creating new 3D web-to-print sites?

CROWD + 3D PRINT APPS = NICHE WEBSITE IDEA FACTORY

How 3D Printing Can Help Crowdfunding

 

Earlier this week, crowdfunding website Kickstarter posted new rules for projects in its Hardware and Product Design category. The news was delivered as a blog post entitled “Kickstarter is Not a Store.” The rules were designed to ensure that project creators set realistic expectations with potential backers.  Apparently some people see Kickstarter more as a way to get the next cool thing first than as a way to back projects they see as having merit. The trouble with that is there is risk associated with crowdfunding that one wouldn’t normally encounter with a “traditional” ecommerce transaction (as if there’s anything traditional about ecommerce, right?)

The first rule change is that project creators must now answer the question, “What are the risks and challenges this project faces, and what qualifies you to overcome them?” A legitimate question for certain, and one that any other type of investor would probably ask as part of their due diligence. To be fair, most project creators were already making that obvious – it’s just gone from being a best-practice to becoming a rule.

From there it gets a bit more restrictive. Projects posted in the Hardware and Product Design category must now follow these additional rules:

  • Product simulations are now prohibited. Products can only be shown as they are able to perform today – not how they might work in a future state of development.
  • Product renderings are also prohibited. Product images must be of the prototypes as they currently exist.
  • Projects are prohibited from offering multiple quantities of a product as a reward for a larger investment