Key items to look for when reading a project’s description

After the first impressions gained from reading the project description, I look for certain key items to help me decide whether or not to back the project. Basically, I try to understand what the project creator has omitted from the project description, and how this would impact my decision to back the project. This post lists all the additional items I look for when reviewing the project description.

Key takeaways

  • Be very critical when reviewing the project description.
  • Make sure you are keen to back the project, and that your backing is commensurate with the risk of interacting with the project creator and the reward offered.
  • Don’t compromise on your standards, for example, if you expect sustainability in the supply chain, ask the project creator to detail how this is achieved in the project.

The actual product / service

In-depth questions relating to the product include:

  • Have independent reviewers reviewed the product?
  • Has the product undergone initial beta testing?
  • What is the product’s differentiator? For example, if the project is a T-shirt line, I would more likely buy T-shirts and fashion items from platforms like Threadless instead of backing a project on Kickstarter, for two simple reasons: via Threadless (or another similar platform) I know my legal rights and I would get the product.
  • Is the product featured on a forum, such as BoardGameGeek for games, or featured on a website?

Interaction with the product / service

Determine whether you can actually experience the product for yourself, or at minimum, that a person, other than the project creator, has interacted with the product:

  • Who else apart from the project creator has interacted with the product / service? Is there a chance for me to do so at an upcoming convention or exhibition?
  • Has the project creator created a prototype or discussed the prototype with an expert?

Interaction with backers and the community

Understanding how the project creator interacts with backers and the community is helpful in understanding his business culture:

  • How does the project creator interact with the backer via comments and updates, especially if backer pose questions or make suggestions?
  • How does the project creator interact with the overall community? Does he also back other projects or does he kick it forward?

Project progress to date

Make sure you understand the progress to date for the project, and what are the attributing factors that impact the project ‘s success:

  • What has been the progress to date for this project: number of backers, funding attained, what does Kicktraq reveal?
  • Does your gut say that the project is likely to fund, and would you be willing to pay for your pledge once it funds?

Risks and challenges

It is very important to understand the risks and challenges of a project:

  • Has the project creator accurately listed and addressed all the risks and challenges in the project, or it this section a vague text-heavy section? For example, if it is a board game, does the project creator list all the risks in sourcing manufacturing, actual manufacturing and the supply chain, or is there a vague sentence akin to “I have some supply chain experience” or “I have bought and sold goods on eBay”.
  • Does the project creator adequately list business continuity plans, and do these seem viable? For example, for a graphic novel, can the artist be easily replaced with any other artist, without impacting the artwork and quality?

Other considerations

There are a number of other considerations backers need to evaluate when reviewing the project:

  • If the project creator has successful Kickstarter campaigns under his belt, is there evidence of feedback or reviews from the previous backers?
  • Is the project creator raising funds to as start-up capital for his business, or are the funds for the product? This is not easy to spot, but if the project creator is thinking that Kickstarter funds is his source of start-up capital, then the project has a higher probability of failing.
  • Is there any evidence of sustainability considerations in the manufacturing or supply chain?
  • Is the shipping EU friendly? As a backer resident in the EU, I want confirmation that I won’t have to pay extra customs and VAT on receiving my shipment from the project creator.
  • Does this project look like a hobby? Backing a project that is a hobby disguised as a business or charitable cause is very, very risky. There are valid hobbies that turn into businesses, but I really don’t want to give money to someone who is not serious about the project.

In conclusion

These key items should have all been thought of by the project creator when designing their project plan. There is nothing that I am asking for above that should catch the project creator by surprise, or make the project creator unwilling to answer my questions.

These key items are not possible for every project type, for example, if the project is to create an app or software. But overall, this list helps me to make a more informed decision as to a) whether I would back the project, b) at what pledge level and c) what the project risk is and my expected loss.

This also helps me to get a better understanding of the motives of a project creator and my role in the backing the project, and helps me to rate the project creator, so that I can fully understand my risks and rewards from backing this project.