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Is Kickstarter hiding data on failed projects?

The concept of crowdfunding has gone mainstream, putting a bullseye on Kickstarter, the leader of crowdfunding.

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Crowdfunding in 2012

Crowdfunding has become popular in the last five years, and through sites like Kiva that helped regular people understand what a micro-loan is, and through sites like Kickstarter that allow people to pledge money toward a project, the understanding of alternative funding has gone mainstream. It is clear when you go to Kickstarter, that you can pledge a low amount to a project you’re interested in, and receive a small award, or even possibly the actual product being pitched, or you can pledge a large amount, and get more perks. If projects don’t reach their financial goal, no money exchanges hands, it’s simple.

With unemployment so high in America, and public schools struggling to get children interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) careers, inventions are the lifeblood of innovation right now. A recent analysis by Jeanne Pi at AppsBlogger.com reveals that Kickstarter is allegedly hiding failed projects by blocking Google from indexing them, and failing to report success rates to the public.

Pi scraped data from 57,860 projects which represented 99 percent of successfully funded projects, but the team was only able to scrape 82 percent of projects that were not funded, which fuels their allegation that Kickstarter “may have data issues that inflate the number of failed projects, or else are otherwise hiding these projects.”

The blog also reports that “projects that successfully fund tend to do so by relatively small margins. 25% of them funded at 3% or less over their goal. And 50% raised only 10% over their goal. In other words, when you succeed, it’s not by much. Projects that raised double or more over their goal is the exception.”

Our question: so what?

When applying for a small business loan, as a professional, I care less about the luck others have had with repayment, and more about assessing my own risk and ability to meet my own goals. Kickstarter entrepreneurs have no guarantee that they’ll get anywhere near their goals, which is why you see some people set their goal so tremendously low that their fundraising puts them at eight to ten times what they asked for.

No matter what stats Kickstarter puts out, true or false, entrepreneurs and inventors have their laser focus on crowdfunding as what has become one of the most effective methods of getting funding to get a tangible product from their head to market. Our question is – so what? Kickstarter could tell us the sky is red and we wouldn’t care, because their stats, blog, marketing, or otherwise have no bearing on the entrepreneurial spirit, so while we hope reporting is accurate, entrepreneurs will still seek crowdfunding, and the crowd wills till seek to fund.

Business Entrepreneur

Is gifting an entrepreneur a website like gifting motivation, or anxiety?

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) Is a website really the only thing stopping someone from starting their own business? Are there entrepreneurs who simply need a push to start their own thriving empire? Let’s find out.

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Website design open on dual monitors for an entrepreneur.

Being an entrepreneur is arguably the highest form of self motivation someone could have – the drive to build out your own business, deliver a product or service that you know is in demand, and ultimately secure profits. It’s something that is discussed over and over and over.

It’s the holiday season, and Exchange Marketplace is making the rather surprising argument that you could gift someone a business. Their pitch states that they provide some ebooks, Shopfy credit, and some other starter materials, and promises that you could pay as little as $50 to jumpstart a brand new career.

Looking around at their site, it’s essentially a list of companies that their respective owners are willing to sell. They provide some data (someone who is more familiar with this stuff could parse it better than I can) such as revenue, profits, average number of hours worked, and so on. I’m going to assume the legal side of things are all in place, and other considerations are handled.

But my question here is – who is this truly for? And what message are you sending when you surprise someone with a website and start telling them it’s time to get to work, better learn fast before your entrepreneur business fails?

The logistics alone are mind boggling – where is the base of operations, knowledge of an industry, obtaining inventory, knowing which suppliers are involved, will language barriers be a problem, contacts, the quality of the product or service, etc. I’m not a business person by any means, so maybe I’m overstating the difficulty here, but it just seems like you’re opening the door to a literal galaxy of unknowns on the part of the entrepreneur that would require immediate understanding and action.

Look, gift certificates are sort of a bad gift – you restrict where money can be used, and it’s usually not enough to cover a full purchase, and that requires you (the receiver) to cover the remaining cost. Giving someone a car (despite all the slick commercials with celebrities) is even worse; setting aside the tiny chance someone pays off the vehicle entirely, you’re still leaving someone with increased insurance rates, future maintenance, and other costs. Even a new pet – while adorable – might arguably be the worst possible gift, as someone shovels responsibility for life itself onto an unsuspecting person.

(Before I continue, please feel free to buy me a car and fill it with puppies wearing Amazon gift card suits.)

I’m being a little unfair in the above scenarios, because there is definitely an audience for each. The problem is that each option requires some amount of work and thought by the receiver, and putting the onus on them to fully realize the gift can be daunting.

So maybe the better way to describe this is that these situations are a bit niche in their efficacy – that there’s a smaller number of people who are actively able to accept a gift that requires additional work.

Gifting a business, then, could be seen as something negative – “I think you need to work harder.” And that carries a rather heavy payload of consequences, thoughts, and considerations. Maybe you aren’t outright calling someone out as lazy, but that implication is easily arrived at if someone is blindsided. At the least, you are saying I need you to do something.

Surely, there are people who represent the targeted audience, and it would suggest that they already have business training/education, considerable free time, access to investment, and enough drive and motivation to eagerly begin an entirely new chapter in life as an entrepreneur. But that has to be a small group of people, and even fewer so when you consider those who would be successful at it, and would actually want to undertake such a massive task.

Beyond all of this, I have to question a number of things, and they are all centered around how trustworthy all of this might be. My only interaction with anything remotely close to this subject is watching episodes of Shark Tank, and I know that the panel there would meticulously go over a LOT of things before even offering to buy a percentage of a business. Purchasing the entire thing seems volatile and full of risk; who wants to negotiate all of that?

Maybe it is simply that I am not the type of person who would deal with that amount of uncertainty willingly. I am very much a look-before-I-leap type person, and the thought of being handed a potential money making an entrepreneur enterprise when I have no insight into it beforehand is completely terrifying.

I’d need to prove to the gift giver that their faith in me was valid, to say nothing of whatever audience already exists. But I’d have literally no idea where to start on all of this; the numbers on businesses failing is scary enough.

In a way, I applaud the idea of businesses being fluid enough to become commodities themselves. I just question how easily this sort of marketplace could mask true costs, exaggerate profits, and seemingly hide all sorts of disturbing, unpleasant details. And then taking all of that and gifting it to someone? What a wild ride.

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Business Entrepreneur

Working remotely even after COVID? This startup has your news covered

(BUSINESS NEWS) Wrkforce targets the crowd of people working remotely during the pandemic, and those who may stay working remote after it’s safe to return.

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Woman working remotely on a laptop at a cafe in post COVID times.

As the world wrestles with another wave of COVID-19, one startup is banking on continued interest in working remotely.

Wrkfrce, who launched this November, will offer content, job postings, and consulting services to help workers how to adapt to a work-from-home situation. The website published an initial 60 articles during its launch, with topics ranging from being a remote-work parent to how to ease managerial issues remotely. Wrkfrce will publish new written content daily, while also adding in documentary-style video content covering certain subjects. In addition to the content library, the company will also dedicate a portion of its website to posting remote job opportunities across various industries.

“At wrkfrce, we know that the future is already here,” CEO Jesse Chambers, says in the firm’s about us section, “we know that commuting in a car is as bad for the soul as it is for the environment; and we know that remote work is as good for a company’s bottom line as it is for its employees.”

Chambers is certainly familiar with this type of platform. He was vice president of monetization for AOL for over a decade. After Verizon acquired Yahoo and merged with AOL, Chambers opted to forge a new path focused on working remotely. While the company is coming to prominence during the coronavirus pandemic, the platform has been in the works since 2019.

Whether or not wrkfrce’s target audience will stick around when the worst of COVID-19 has passed is unknown. The company’s strategy relies on revenue through affiliate links on its job board, advertising, and consultancy fees on how to scale remote teams. There are no plans to put content behind a paywall, meaning a healthy and sustainable audience will be a major driver of growth for the company.

Although Chambers views the pandemic as something that has accelerated his vision for the wrkfrce, he doesn’t believe it was necessary to make the company successful.

“The digital evolution has brought us to this point where distributed work is totally possible,” Chambers said. “If the pandemic had happened five to seven years ago, this would be a completely different situation.”

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Business Entrepreneur

Is COVID encouraging teachers to join edtech startups?

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) Teachers have struggled for years in the learning space, and remote learning hasn’t made it easier, leading many into edtech startups.

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Student learning with teacher online, where many are pursuing edtech startups.

Being a teacher is hard. If the ridged hours and low page haven’t discouraged you, maybe the stress of COVID-era schooling – whether that be dangerous and in-person or tedious and remote – will.

Some of my best friends are teachers and I consistently hear them express how underappreciated and underpaid they are. Some babysitters even make more than the average teacher, though they only have to care for 1 or 2 children.

It’s no surprise then that thousands of teachers have flocked to the budding education startup scene, better known as edtech. While some of the more popular companies – such as OutSchool and Varsity Tutor – provide varying educational services to students and families, they consistently provide better pay and better hours to teachers across the board.

So, what’s the catch?

Well, to start, most tutoring software startups cost more than public schooling. This means that low-income students might be left behind as their wealthier classmates are able to access a better education online – taught by happier, better paid teachers. This digital divide will almost certainly exacerbate the preexisting inequalities between low- and high-income students.

While it might be the broken education system (and subsequent edtech boom) that are to blame here, there is still a large-scale villainization of public school teachers who “give up” on their students.

As most teachers are women, many understand this view as an expression of ingrained sexism – why is it seen as ambitious when a man leaves their profession as they know it in search of something better? Why are female educators expected to settle?

Regardless of where you stand on these issues, the fact of the matter is that education is slowly creeping into the online tech sector. Will this boom be sustained after there is a vaccine and students can safely return to schools at full capacity? Will there be no more teachers left to teach in-person classes? It seems like only time will tell.

In the meantime, if you or your child is interested in taking an online course in anything from pottery to Italian (and can afford it), there is a whole new world available to you – and taught by teachers who finally are finally being paid what they deserve.

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