One of the best parts of crowdfunding is the feeling of being on the front lines of innovation. Everyday, new and original projects are released to the public rather than traditional closed-door investors.
It truly is a way to experience the cutting edge of design, technology and more.
…Except when it isn’t.
Some people have capitalized on that reputation, embellishing campaigns with sensational titles such as “World’s Smallest”, “World’s First”, “World’s Toughest” etc.
While there certainly are projects that can claim those labels, it’s important to know what exactly is hard fact and what is marketing hyperbole.
We’ll outline some steps you can take to make sure campaign claims are accurate and how to avoid outright scams.
Check Existing Stores
It’s often the case that “World’s First” actually means “The First on Kickstarter”. Presenting an existing product to a new platform doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad, but it’s good to know if a similar item is already out there (usually for a lot cheaper).
Take a few minutes to search ecommerce stores like Amazon or Alibaba to see if there’s a similar product already on the market. If you’re feeling extra suspicious, you can also do a reverse image search of campaign photos with a service like TinEye. Resale is strictly prohibited by Kickstarter, so if you do find a copycat product, it’s best to report it.
It’s no surprise that presenting something as award-winning is an excellent selling point. Adding any validation from an outside authority builds a sense of legitimacy to what can feel like the wild-west world of crowdfunding. And there are tons of awards out there. Places ranging from designer groups, business accelerators, schools and government programs all offer various honors.
The tricky part? Making sure campaign creators actually received them.
Most established award groups publish a list of recipients. It takes only a few Googles to check and confirm if the campaign item or creator is on that list.
One title that is thrown around quite a bit is the Red Dot Award. It’s essentially a seal of approval for product design and has been received by companies like Apple, Bose and Ferrari. It pops up regularly on Kickstarter, but you can easily search their exhibition page for products or brands.
Check Media Coverage
It’s a common sight. A grid of logos touting a campaign’s breathless press coverage. An “As seen on” list covering everything from niche blogs to giants like Wired, Forbes and CNBC.
Surely they’re all real, right?
Well, it’s easy enough to make sure with one little search modifier.
Simply putting the product name plus “+media source” into
Google will let you know for certain.
“Pebble watch +wired.com” or “baubax +cnbc.com” for example will show only results from those domains with that topic.
No result equals a big red flag.
Check Product Claims
Finally, we get to the product features. Whether it’s 3x warmer, lasts 10x longer or keeps teeth twice as clean, there’s one important thing to look for…
Third party verification.
If a Kickstarter campaign is stating something as a scientific fact, they need scientific proof. Any hard claims like this should be followed by a link or reference to a study by a valid third party. Otherwise, it’s pretty much just hearsay.
Hopefully this should give you a better sense for detecting wacky crowdfunding claims, as well as an appreciation for creators who truly are bringing amazing projects into the world.