Protocol Discussion and What’s Next for Product — Kickstarter

Protocol Discussion and What’s Next for Product — Kickstarter


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Several times each year, the creators we’ve brought together in our Community Advisory Council meet with members of the Kickstarter team, bringing their expertise and insights to guide our work. They are an incredible group of passionate community advocates from across creative disciplines.

Building on the enthusiasm, ideas, and feedback from our first meeting, this month we dove more deeply into two areas. Most of our time together was spent discussing the research and exploration of an open source protocol—the work of a small, independent team, focused on big ideas concerning the future of crowdfunding as an ecosystem. We also dove into the work of the Kickstarter team, addressing the most immediate needs of our community. Specifically, we talked through an area of focus for our product team in the second half of the year: building tools to help creators more effectively market their campaigns to potential backers.

While the protocol team focuses on exploration for the future, we’re focused on creators’ immediate needs.

Part of our time together was dedicated to discussing the work our product teams are doing to address pain points creators feel when trying to get the word out about their projects. We shared our team’s methodology for surveying our community and understanding what rises to the top, walked through some immediate next steps, and then opened up the conversation. We heard that in addition to tools we’re working on like support for Google Analytics 4 and pixel integrations, there’s a hunger to facilitate more real-world connections with audiences. Creators also want to make it easier and more appealing for potential backers to follow their project before it goes live. And creators want better analytics—for example, when you can see where your most engaged backers are coming from, you have a chance to build on that success. As our product teams are building, they’re also evaluating how we can best integrate this feedback into their work.

Additionally, we focused the conversation on protocol efforts. This direct conversation was overdue as the issue remains top of mind for many creators, and it was an important step in more deeply involving our community with this initiative.

The crowdfunding protocol needs to convince Kickstarter of its value, just as it will with anyone else who considers it.

The council advised strongly that Kickstarter help eliminate potential misunderstanding and ease fears around our intentions and motives for the future use of blockchain protocols, so there are a few things we want our community to know:

  • Kickstarter is working with a small research and development team to focus on the creative crowdfunding protocol and explore whether new technologies like blockchain can help us solve long standing challenges in crowdfunding. Kickstarter will not adopt the crowdfunding protocol unless it presents a clear and compelling case for how it will benefit both creators and backers, and solve specific problems that we know creators and backers face. It needs to convince Kickstarter, just as it will with anyone else who considers it.
  • If Kickstarter makes use of an open source protocol, creators and backers will be involved and informed. There will be a proof of concept for creators who want to use it. And creators and backers will have a clear understanding of how and where it is being used.

The protocol team is exploring how to improve reach and trust within crowdfunding. There’s confusion, skepticism, and potential. We need to address it all.

The Council noted that there is a great deal of confusion around what problem(s) Kickstarter is hoping to solve through a protocol, as well as a lot of skepticism around whether blockchain is actually necessary in order to solve those problems.

Based on the Council’s input, we want to address both of those issues directly!

First, we understand that there are a range of challenges facing crowdfunding, both for creators and backers. While blockchain doesn’t have useful applications for all of these problems, we believe that it could have a meaningful impact in solving two of the biggest problems we’ve identified:

  • Project reach: Helping creators expand the presence of their campaigns beyond the Kickstarter platform, in order to engage a larger base of potential backers and supporters.
  • Trust in crowdfunding: Building increased trust between creators and backers, along with increased backer confidence when deciding whether to support a project.

We aren’t suggesting that these problems can only be solved through blockchain. We are simply exploring the possibility that blockchain might provide some additional ways to tackle these challenges, alongside a number of measures we’re already working on. We want to be prepared for what the next decade brings, and shape the changes in ways that benefit creators, backers, and our mission.

The Council had a number of additional questions for which we don’t have answers yet, and we know that you do too, so we humbly ask that everyone withhold judgment while the exploratory team continues to research and evaluate how the protocol has the potential to help strengthen project reach and trust in crowdfunding. We are committed to sharing those insights publicly, and ensuring we hear from our community. While the crowdfunding protocol team dreams big for the future, the Kickstarter team continues to focus on improving our platform by delivering improvements creators have been asking for.

In both of the big areas we covered, it was hard to get to everything we wanted to talk about in just two hours. There is so much to do, and we’re grateful to the Council for sharing their expertise and delivering direct feedback with kindness. It’s already helping us to orient more deeply around the needs of our creative communities.

We want your input: What topics would you add to the agenda?

For each meeting, I create an agenda based on meeting topics the Council has surfaced and while I’ll continue to do that going forward I’d love to know your thoughts: What topics would you like to see discussed at Council meetings? If you have ideas, we’d like to hear them: [email protected]

Back these projects with me!

Congratulations to Council member Stefanie Black—I’m a proud backer of their project that just wrapped, Lydia the Luna Moth and Lenore the Rosy Maple Moth Plush.

Here are a couple more projects that caught my attention. I recently backed them and hope you’ll join me!

  • I’m a crafter and love this collection of crochet shawl and wrap patterns.
  • There are a lot of amazing Zine Quest 4 projects live on the site right now—including this cool sci-fi horror RPG from Arcanum Game Studio. A note for RPG creators: Zine Quest 5 will be back again next February.

—Kimm Alfonso; VP, Creator and Backer Success





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