Kickstarter Backer Support Tool?

Dear Lazyweb: As I eye Kickstarter for funding (and marketing) tools for my next project, I’m realizing something that I feel should exist already and doesn’t. Since it doesn’t already exist, I feel it’s either against the rules as I can’t be the only person to see the need.

When your project gets funding, there’s the matter of reward fulfillment. Right now the process is creating a survey for each tier asking the info you need to deliver the reward. You can only ask this survey once. As a backer, you can only submit this info once and after 10 minutes  it’s locked in. Need to change it? Manual contact and update for both sides. Change of address? Contact project directly for manual update. You’re asked to wait till you can make send the final award to users, but what if you a digital package to devlier sooner than a physical package? It’s horrible support mess.

Unexploded Cow: Reward Survey

In the absence of Kickstarter making better tools, is there anything to prevent me from making a separate system? Say once a project is successfully funded, I e-mail every backer with a unique code. They take that code and make a new account at myprojectwebsite.com, making an association with their backer info. All further interactions occur on my website. From forums access, to direct communication and reward fulfillment. I can go even further and make a system where if someone wants to upgrade to a higher reward tier, buy extra copies, or become a backer from the start, they can do so with ease.

While some projects have done parts of this, I haven’t seen an example where a project is completely reliant on their own website in that manor. Am I missing something in the Kickstarter project agreement? If not, who wants to make this tool with me? Maybe we’ll Kickstarter it. ;)

Update: Just as I posted this the backer survey for Unexploded Cow was sent out, so I included a screenshot.

  • http://twitter.com/ultrasquid Jason P.

    I think Reaper miniatures came up with a database application along those lines to handle their Bones kickstarter rewards. You might ask them, though they might be quite busy with fulfillment

    • http://segonmedia.com/ Seg

      You’re not going to get much of an automation with an Export from Kickstarter to final output beyond a CSV. Hidden Path went as far to make a direct support interface with the Kickstarter website to directly emulate the contact forms. Though most of their support was rewarding content during pledge phase and trusting they’ll actually pay up.

  • http://twitter.com/ultrasquid Jason P.

    That is to say, a lot of that stuff isn’t automated yet, but the foundations are there

  • http://worldmaker.net Max “WorldMaker” Battcher

    Yes, all of this is very ad hoc at the moment. Given the millions of dollars the Kickstarter corporation has made it seems a shame that they haven’t come up with something at least slightly more sophisticated than the current backer one-time-only surveys. (It continues to surprise me in conversations all the time when people often don’t realize that Kickstarter is a for-profit company that has made a good amount of money on the brokerage fees it charges.)

    The increasingly common practice is private forums since there are a million simple private forum apps that can be run for cheap on a server. I’ve got a number of Kickstarters that have used a private forum for most of their backer interactions both before and after the Kickstarter backer survey.

    So far, as a backer, the best experience I’ve had was from the SPORTSFRIENDS! kickstarter which is beta testing the “always-in-beta” Humble Store as a Kickstarter rewards center. It doesn’t *require* an account: it is email+key-based like any of the other Humble Bundle/Humble Store purchases. But since I have a Humble account all I needed to do was login and visit the Humble Library and it let me know right at the top (because my Humble account email is the same as my Kickstarter backer email) that I had a key waiting for me to unlock/claim.

    Admittedly, I haven’t yet seen the Humble Store used for follow-up information gathering, but it is something that I could see showing up as a feature perhaps down the road if the Humble Store takes on more distributions for Kickstarter projects, and the Amnesia Fortnight Humble Bundle this year was very much like a mini-Kickstarter project hosted entirely on the Humble Store platform. But then the Humble Store will always be limited to a subset of Kickstarter (and Kickstarter-like) projects, given its game focus and primarily indie-game appeal. On the other hand, thus far in my experience it is really only video games that have the most complicated sequences of backer rewards and digital distribution needs.

    Which I guess points to what the attention from a backer’s perspective would lie for a useful generic tool: focus on rewards tracking (up-to-date estimates, development blogs, basic distribution needs like unlock keys and shipping tracking numbers). A generic rewards tracker could be an interesting tool, and I can already start to see some of the uses for it. That does sound like it could be an interesting project to build and see who would use it. I’d be interested in working on something like that.

  • http://twitter.com/maxwellsalz Maxwell Salzberg

    Hey! Just stumbled on your blog via Twitter. My partner and I have built BackerKit (https://www.backerkit.com) to tackle this exact problem :) let me know if you have any questions maxwell@backerkit.com

  • http://worldmaker.net Max “WorldMaker” Battcher

    Just had a KS refer me to their subsite at AfterTheCrowd.com from the New Zealand company Plus 14 Ltd. Interesting, and it reminded me of this earlier conversation.