Kickstarter and Indiegogo might seem to be very similar on the surface, but there are distinct differences between the platforms you should be aware of before choosing which platform is best to launch your particular campaign. Both have launched projects that have exceeded $10M in funding. Both have inherent communities that can greatly amplify your funding quickly if your project becomes a “darling.” They are currently considered the top two crowdfunding platforms in the US, and they are both are known to be very reliable and easy to use.
Form Over Function
Probably the biggest difference is in the types of campaigns each will accept. Kickstarter fancies itself as a platform for the design and tech-oriented, and you’ll find many of their most successful campaigns involve gadgets or products that often focus on design elements over raw practicality. You won’t find any “As Seen On TV” type products on Kickstarter. Indiegogo, however, allows pretty much anything and seems to be the preferred platform for musicians and film makers, as there are no approval issues.
Approvals on Kickstarter
In fact, Kickstarter has an approval process, where your project must be approved by Kickstarter’s staff before it can go public. Your project must fall under one of their categories, which include: art, comics, dance, design, fashion, film, food, games, music, photography, technology and theater. This is no place for a new garden tool – unless it looks cool, of course. This really limits what gets seen on Kickstarter, and keeps Kickstarter a highly curated site. It may also keep campaigns within parameters that have proven successful – which means Kickstarter backers may feel a bit more secure in funding your campaign, as they know it has been vetted to a certain extent by Kickstarter.
Indiegogo, on the other hand, has no approval process. While I’m sure they’ll shut you down if you violate their Terms Of Service, there is no approval committee prior to you going live with your campaign. They are also very open to any kind of product or service – bring on the garden tools! They are also very supportive of the arts and have become a favorite of those making entertainment programs in particular, as well as non-profits, for their funding rules – which is the next major difference between the platforms.
Flexible Funding on Indiegogo
I think the biggest benefit to Indiegogo is its Flexible Funding option. With Kickstarter, each campaign is “all or nothing” – in other words, you set a funding goal, and if you don’t meet it, you get nothing. With Indiegogo’s Flexible Funding option, you set a goal, but if you don’t meet it, you keep all the funds you have raised. This is a BIG deal! Setting funding goals is not an exact science. Will production and raw material costs exceed quotes? I would say that happens more times than not. Do contingencies come up that were not foreseen? All the time. So, to account for some of those unknowns, crowdfunders have to guess at the actual numbers. If they guess too high, they may not meet their goals and (on Kickstarter, at least) may not get their funding. For example, if you project production costs for your product at $8,500, you might add in a 15% contingency, to accommodate any changes or unforeseen circumstances. This would put your total funding need at $9,775. If you asked for $10,000, but your campaign only raised $9,500, you would get $0 at Kickstarter. Note, that your product most likely could be produced for the $9,500, as only a small portion of that is a contingency amount. If you placed your campaign, with the same numbers , under Indiegogo’s Flexible Funding option, you’d receive the $9,500, even if you asked for $10,000. This would most likely allow you to go into production with your product – which makes for a huge difference.
One of the other differences is in global reach. Kickstarter campaigns must be US, Canadian or UK based (Kickstarter just hinted that they will be allowing campaings from Scandinavia starting in October), while Indiegogo allows campaigns from almost anywhere in the world. This severely limits Kickstarter’s reach, and doesn’t help anyone in Europe trying to launch a campaign. If your project has potential backers in Europe or in another overseas market, Indiegogo is the place to go.
The last major difference has to do with platform fees and how you receive your funds. With Kickstarter, you’ll only receive your funds if you have met your goal, in a lump sum after your campaign has closed. They take a 5% fee, and you get the rest. With Indiegogo, it’s possible to receive some funds as they come in – specifically those coming in through PayPal. Under it’s Flexible Funding option, Indiegogo withholds 9% of these funds, and then refunds an additional 5% to you after your campaign concludes, for a total fee of 4%. The big difference here is that you can start receiving funds immediately, without having to wait 30, 45, or 60 days for your campaign to end, as you would have to do with Kickstarter. This can make a difference in the time it takes to ramp up your manufacturing, and if you have a long campaign that funds early, you can begin the first steps of production with the funds that have already been received, instead of waiting the full 30, 45 or 60 days you would have to with Kickstarter.
With these factors in mind, you should have an idea of which platform makes the most sense for you and your campaign. Certain factors – international backers, and campaign type (will it get approved?) can make the decision for you. After that, it may become a matter of personal preference. Nothing says you can’t run campaigns on both platforms – it just doesn’t make sense to do it simultaneously, as you’d fragment your focus and marketing efforts. It would be interesting to see stats on campaigns that didn’t fund on Kickstarter, and then moved over to Indiegogo and got funding at a later date.
If you have particular preference experiences on either platform, please leave a comment below!