How to Run a Crowdfunding Scam

Despite only ever funding one crowdfunding campaign in my entire life, the targeted ad powers that be have determined that I really like crowdfunding. A specific category always gets advertised to me: technology that can do something truly amazing which no one else is pursuing. A year or so later I catch an article that these same projects either get removed from Kickstarter, move over to Indiegogo, or vanish indefinitely into development hell. I’ll absolutely give the benefit of the doubt to the majority these creators, unexpected snags can pop up when you’re trying to scale hardware products. Though sometimes I wonder if people are just cashing in on technolust. In this brief post I’ll layout some steps to running a crowdfunding scam around a technology product.

  1. Come up with a tech product that:
    1. Fills some niche. Good categories include smartphone accessories, drones, and VR gadgets. For the appearance of novelty you can also take regular day item which just has some bluetooth addon so you can call it “smart” some ideas for free:
      • Smart ring (addendum December 6, 2018: this)
      • Smart post-it note
      • Smart drawers
    2. Claims to do something way better than anything out there, especially since you can connect it to your phone!
    3. Technically impossible, but not so much as to make customers think that it is impossible. For example (real examples):
      • A hub that transcribes lectures which is also a portable battery and wireless speaker. (Titan Note)
      • A drone that follows you autonomously and takes selfies. (Lily drone)
      • A bracelet which projects a smartphone interface on your wrist. (Cicret)
  2. Hire a prop shop to make a mock of the product.
  3. Make an amazing marketing video featuring the prop-product. Using the magic of editing and special effects, make it look like it’s a functional product that just needs a couple thousand dollars to bring to market. You could skip step 2 and use a digital model and place it in the video too but you’ll want something physical for later steps.
  4. Post it to Kickstarter or Indiegogo, preference to the latter because if you don’t meet the goal you still get the money.
  5. While the campaign is on-going take the time to develop a crude actually functioning prototype to post as an update to the backers. You don’t want to deceive people too much. This step is optional.
  6. After the campaign is over, post updates every couple months about the challenges and the “progress” you’re making. Do this less frequently as time goes on, a sort of fade away to make people ever forget you still have their money.
  7. Finally, after several months–or years–make a post about how you’ve run out of funding. How there were too many problems with the manufacturers but that you’re proud of your team and the work that you accomplished.
  8. Disappear with all that money. You can do this as early as step 5 too.

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