I once said that all it takes to find success on Kickstarter is "a truly innovative idea and a bulletproof pitch." Then there were the 10 "essential" questions I suggested you ask yourself when creating your first project on the popular crowdfunding platform.
You have to carefully present a "standout idea for a new product" to pony up Kickstarter cash for it, I said. To score backers, you've got to dangle killer rewards, pitch your brainchild in spellbinding detail and ice your crowdfunding cake with a passionate sizzle video, I said.
What a load of potato salad. I take it all back.
If Zack Danger Brown's ironic, asinine $72,000 potato salad "project" is any indication, all it takes to kill it on Kickstarter today is meh, nothing special.
Like so: First, post a fuzzy product photo. (Forget that thoughtfully orchestrated original snapshot. Upload the first stock junk Google dishes up instead.) Next, blurt out a lazy, 11-word pitch, like Brown's vague stunner. "Basically I'm just making potato salad. I haven't decided what kind yet." Then, write a basic, uninspired project title ("Potato Salad," yay). Slap together a mishmash of lukewarm, mildly funny rewards (gee, I can't wait to have my name uttered aloud when the world's most overpriced potato salad debuts). Finally, breeze through Kickstarter's apparently pointless vetting process like it's nothing.
Relax. You've got this, slacker. Go for Yukon gold.
What?! Wait. Please tell me Brown was only joking when he half-baked up his Kickstarter tater sensation. Because that's all it seems to be. A joke. A goofy prank that fools with greenbacks to blow are happy to back, big-time.
Brown's smash-hit spud project wasn't the only ridiculous dud to somehow succeed on the crowdfunding juggernaut. Here are four more equally ridiculous Kickstarter headscratchers we're a bit surprised earned even a penny, let alone fully funded:
1. Project: The Griz Coat
Creator: Buffoonery Factory LLC
Funding Goal: $2,500
Total Funded: $29,015
This fur-brained Kickstarter beast was the product of a serious Halloween costume dilemma, or so its creators claim. A group of aspiring San Francisco "grizangsters" wanted to don grizzly bear jackets for the holiday.
Two problems: They couldn't find any fake bear-ish threads that didn't look "cartoonish," like a mascot outfit, and real bear fur, claws and fangs cost too much. So they hired designers to stitch grizzly bear hoodie-coats (jackets? suits?) for them from scratch, from synthetic (non-bear) materials.
Naturally, they wore them with pride. People noticed. Passers-by asked where they could get one, too, and a crowdfunding campaign to bring freaky faux bear gear to the masses was born. It fared so well (1,160 percent funded) that it earned a spot on Kickstarter's "Best of 2012" list.
Griz Coats, which you can buy with Bitcoin (even though the Griz Coat makers admit that they "don't really know how Bitcoin works") now fetch $199 each. Not into bear wear? These guys have you covered with Panda Coat, their latest Kickstarter triumph.
2. Project: World's Most Super Amazing 100% Awesome Cat Calendar
Creator: Kate Funk
Funding Goal: $3,500
Total Funded: $25,183
The Internet hearts cats. It also flips its collective lid for unicorns. Put the two viral meme magnets together and you have the mythical makings of an awesome kitty calendar, make that the World's Most Super Amazing 100% Awesome Calendar.
That poor cat model, all dressed up like a gnome, a fairy, a leprechaun, a werewolf (which might as well be the enemy, a dog) and a lot more. The indignity. Humans don't mind, though. They think it's wicked cute, especially the 1,119 backers who made this kind of adorable Kickstarter pipe dream a reality for Milwaukee artist Kate Funk and her good sport feline friend AC.
3. Project: Grilled Cheesus
Creator: Rob Corso and Meg Sheehan
Funding Goal: $25,000
Total Funded: $25,604
If you feel left out when people see Jesus in their toast, your prayers have been answered. This gag gift-like Kickstarter product was literally made for you (I kid you not, watch the video). The almighty Grilled Cheesus is like a George Foreman panini press, but with one distinguishing divine difference -- it scorches the face of Jesus onto your sandwich bread. Hallelujah! Because grilled cheese isn't cheesy enough already. Like its cheese-loving Kickstarters say, "however you slice it, the Grilled Cheesus lets you bring little grilled miracles to mealtime, snack time, or anytime." Amen.
4. Project: Emoji Dick
Creator: Fred Benenson
Funding Goal: $3,500
Total Funded: $3,676
Call me Emoji. (Rather, telephone, face, boat, whale, hand signal for "ok.") Herman Melville's turning over in his grave. Fred Benenson set up a Kickstarter with the goal of translating all 6,438 sentences of the literary classic Moby Dick into Japanese Emoji characters, those charming miniature smiley faces and ideograms we can't stop sprinkling our texts with.
His reason: "It seemed like a pretty good challenge." He also told The New Yorker he felt the ambitious undertaking would allow him to "confront a lot of our shared anxieties about the future of human expression (see: Twitter or text messages) by forcing a great work of literature through such a strange new filter." Strange indeed. Interesting, too. To tackle the massive-scale endeavor, Benenson outsourced the labor to workers from Amazon Mechanical Turk, an online marketplace for work "that requires human intelligence."
Benenson, who says he is a lead data engineer at Kickstarter, barely skated past his funding goal, scraping by with just $176 extra dollars. Still, that's not a bad haul when you consider the overall weirdness of his campaign, combined with the fact that he lassoed funding for the bizarre project back in October 2009, only six months after Kickstarter launched.