I’m fairly relaxed about crowdfunding.
I’ve got one project which is running wildly late because it’s technically hard to develop and Apple certification is a Byzantine bureaucracy. I’ve also got deliveries from companies that have been on time(‘ish) and exactly as described.
I get slightly annoyed by long silences that make me imagine the founders are realising that the product can’t be made or they don’t really have enough money. Yet, I’m still fine with the fact that, perhaps, the thing will never be delivered. That’s one of the points of crowdfunding: a risk borne by both sides.
Crowdfunding is a dream and a hope shared
However, there is one thing that riles me.
When a crowdfunded projects starts selling product in shops (online or physical retail environments) before delivering or confirming delivery to original backers.
This must be the one absolute No No of crowdfunding.
You can fail completely, you can deliver a slightly less good product, you can make something beautiful and deliver on time and on budget (that last example is best).
sell final product to new customers who were not backers without absolutely nailing down delivery (either actual delivery or confirmed delivery) to backers.
Disrespect and ethics
It’s completely wrong.
It’s utterly disrespectful to people who supported your dream and made it their hope.
It shows you are not customer focused.
However much a big retailer may be leaning on you to fulfill some contract you made after getting funded. However much you feel the need to get a little bit more income now.
Don’t do it.
You know it’s wrong.
People trusted you. Respect that shared moment.
If you want to do those things then use an alternative funding model: get a loan, get some angel funding, sell shares. All of those have clear commercial relationships that crowdfunding does not. It is different and you need to realise that.
Choose the funding that matches your dream. Don’t mix your dream with other people’s hopes if you don’t realise that relationship is different.
Take care and think carefully about what you intend to do and what you may need to do.