Sunday, December 21, 2014

My Dog Ate my KS Funds (Part 1 of 10)

     Crowdfunding projects seemed to be a great idea at first, but I think a lot of people pledging these days are having second thoughts . Bear in mind that no matter how great the idea or offer may be, the majority of crowdfunding projects are launched by people with no or minimal business or production experience. No wonder many have failed or are extremely late and likely never to materialize.  However, we should expect some excuses, because problems are inevitable no matter how well you plan.  Regardless, excuses never resolve problems. People who pledge are not paying to hear excuses, but for goods promised.

     I will be writing an article each week on this very subject, a total of 10 in all, covering the “do's and don’ts” of crowdfunding, with a focus on miniatures.  You will find that excuses are often substituted for a lack of homework and are an attempt to point the blame elsewhere.      

     Recently, I launched my first Kickstarter.  I have generally been against crowdfunding for many years, but decided to give it a try and finish or expand several projects now that I do not make my full time living anymore in the gaming industry.  People who trust me pledged $12,000 and when the fund-raising ended, I had shipped every reward in 45 days. 

     The project required the casting of nearly 15,000 miniature parts sorted and shipped to 240 recipients/supporters and I did it all by myself on the weekends.  I will launch my next KS in the spring of 2015 (see Dungeon Décor series 2). 

     Although I have many advantages over other miniature crowdfunding projects, such as I make my own molds and cast my own figures, I often spot common mistakes in the crowdfunding community that inevitably spell disaster.  In no particular order, here is the first of 10 things to avoid by both the fund raiser and the supporter.

1:  Sculptures
     Too often, a crowd funded project offers concept artwork as a selling point for a line of miniatures they are attempting to create.  The problem with concept art is a lack of final production costs per figure.  Miniatures vary in size or mass and without having a final production version of an actual figure, there is no precise way to determine the total amount of raw materials such as tin or resin.  The exact cost based on weight of the final production miniature is the only way to calculate the profit or a break-even point.

     Here are the basics in determining costs in metal.  Find out the current rate of the metal you are casting in.  I use a tin alloy that I purchased recently at $12 a pound (price includes shipping charges from the smelter to me).  There are 16 ounces in  a pound.  Take $12 divided by 16 = 75 cents per ounce.  Weigh 10 of the same master casting.  In the example below,  10 of this Salvage Crew figure weighed in at three ounces.  Three multiplied by 75 cents is $2.25,  then divided by 10 and rounded up is 23 cents per this specific figure. 
     Why do I weigh 10 of the same instead of a single figure?  To make certain the scale accurately measures the figure and to eliminate fractions of ounces.  Double check by weighing five and changing your formula to accommodate. 

     For resin figures, you will need to calculate volume of liquid as it equates to cured weight first to get your base weight per ounce.  Now keep in mind that labor is part of your production costs, but that can be overlooked if you are casting your own figures.

Pledgers:  Avoid projects that only offer concept art.  There are a few companies that have successfully created miniatures with just concept art, I applaud them for their commitment, but I can’t stress how critical hard numbers are to any business venture. 

Crowdfunders:  If you can’t afford sculpts and master castings prior to launch, weigh out other companies metal figures at comparable size and then have the sculptors create a piece at a similar mass using your comparable samples.    

Next week:  Part 2: Income taxes

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Johnny Lauck