If things had turned out differently, Cliqist could have been a site focused primarily on Indiegogo projects. Why? Indiegogo was the first of the current popular crowdfunding sites out there available to consumers. It launched in January 2008 while Kickstarter did not appear until over a year later on April 2009. However, fast forward a few years and we see that Kickstarter is dominant for most projects out there. Video games, in particular, seem to have found a home on Kickstarter and see far more success there than on Indiegogo. That’s just the way things played out for video games as well as many other project types — and this migration occurred early.
As such, Cliqist and many of the general gaming populace view Kickstarter as the place to be for funding projects. While most of us have a Kickstarter account, fewer have an Indiegogo account as well (let alone exclusively). Although Kickstarter has a tremendous share of low information (and superbly unlikely to ever succeed) projects, Indiegogo has it even worse. Both sites are still around, of course, and one is making strides to improve itself year after year. Guess what? It’s not Kickstarter.
Indiegogo have made a multitude of moves to improve their stance in the crowdfunding community, to add more utility to the site, and entice future projects to opt for their service over Kickstarter. Kickstarter, on the other hand, has basically continued in much the same form as it has for the past few years. Because it is number one, Kickstarter feels content to simply rest on its laurels. Thus far, this non-strategy has worked because when people think of crowdfunding they simply think of Kickstarter first. But it’s possible that trend may change as Indiegogo continues to add more compelling reasons to both differentiate and improve itself while Kickstarter stays static.
One means of differentiation was originally crafted last year. Titled Indiegogo Life, it was a method of crowdfunding for social causes and personal needs akin to GoFundMe. In October, it was renamed to Generosity and offers much the same features. People may utilize these socially-focused crowdfunding campaigns without having to fear paying fees to Indiegogo. Kickstarter have not made moves toward a similar platform split, though they have gone ahead and become a “benefit corporation.” This means they’ll do things like donate 5% of their after-tax profit to arts-related charities. While that is a pretty smart move, it does little to affect those people actually running campaigns on their platform.
InDemand is another feature Indiegogo pioneered last year. This allowed folks to continue accepting funds for their projects even after the funding period was over — and right through Indiegogo’s familiar interface. Kickstarter has a similar feature in that it allows project leads to update the top of the page with a pledge-like button to continue to accept funds. However, this will take you to whatever post-Kickstarter funding site they’ve set up. Sometimes it may be a PayPal link or, as in the case of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, it is an external page mimicking Kickstarter functionality. That works, but it’s certainly not nearly as convenient as what Indiegogo offers projects. It’s worth noting that it appears Indiegogo’s InDemand will be replaced by Pre-Order functionality (which is currently in beta).
Indiegogo have also been in the process of seeking out more partnerships in order to get the project catalog of previous project successes out there to people. After all, it often feels like Kickstarter projects launch into obscurity unless you have been following them or they end up being massively popular. In general, Indiegogo seems to attract technology or other tangible products that would work well in a retail setting. So, that’s why the company decided to work together with both Target and Brookstone. As far as Kickstarter is concerned, the current means by which you bring a successful project to retail is completely up to the project manager. If they can’t manage to make retail or publisher connections then it’s very unlikely to ever see those wares on store shelves.
The Target partnership isn’t quite as enthralling as it could be, but is a good first step. Indiegogo and Target got together and agreed to showcase a small sampling of previous successes at the company’s Open House store in San Francisco, California. While having products displayed in a single store isn’t that exciting, it does open up the door for business connections between Indiegogo project leads and a major retail outlet. Target making this first step means they are open to the potential of working with crowdfunding products more in the future.
The meatier of these retail connections is the one with Brookstone. In this new partnership, Indiegogo projects can opt to enter themselves into the Brookstone Launch program. Of course, these projects must display heavy consumer interest (so some no-name project with 2 backers won’t get in) and relate to the store’s focus: home, technology, travel, wellness. Popular projects who meet these requirements are then allowed access to expertise from the retailer to help them as they prepare to launch a tangible product. The most attractive of applicable projects will be able to be sold on Brookstone’s website or at its retail locations. For 2015, there are nine different Indiegogo items available in stores. There’s no doubt that this partnership skews toward the highest echelon of Indiegogo success, but is more than any official partnership Kickstarter has yet to offer.
All of this is not to say that Kickstarter completely fails its projects once they succeed. For example, they have the Kickstarter Film Fest which continues to highlight the best of what crowdfunded films has to offer. Because films simply need to be watched, many of these titles even make their way into the nominees list for more prestigious film events. For example, 12 Kickstarter-funded films were recently nominated for an Independent Spirit Award. But really, this doesn’t show much effort on the part of Kickstarter other than serving as a popular crowdfunding destination that was fortunate enough to have these filmmakers choose to fund via this site.
At this time it appears Kickstarter doesn’t need to do anything because they have such a strong lead in so many ways. However, at some point, all these perks of Indiegogo’s platform may start luring more and more people away from Kickstarter. If that ever happens you can bet we’ll see similar continuous bursts of innovation appearing on Kickstarter as they are forced to compete in the crowdfunding space once again.