From Crowdfunded to Financially Sustainable? The Post-Kickstarter Marketplace
Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites can be the perfect platforms to get feedback about a project, build a community around an idea, and, of course, pull in initial cash to get an effort off the ground. But once the campaign is over and the project is funded, makers often see a decline in interaction on their websites and a slacking off of sales.
At least, that's what happened to Matthew McLachlan after his SoundJaw, a sound amplifier that clips onto the iPad, received its Kickstarter funding. "He was going full throttle with it," says Matthew's brother Mark. "But he noticed that when all the excitement wore down after [the Kickstarter] ended, his sales started to fluctuate." The two decided to work together on building a website positioned as "the go-to place–for 'I saw this project on Kickstarter. It's ended now. Where can I find it?'"
The resulting e-commerce startup, Tiny Lightbulbs, opened for business in January and serves as a marketplace for crowdfunded, "indy," or "independently funded" projects. Asked what differentiates his site from Etsy, the Amazon of the DIY economy, Mark says Tiny Lightbulbs is more focused on the type of "finished product" that often is only possible to pull off with the infusion of crowdfunding cash—like fashion-conscious 3D sunglasses and electronics accessories—as opposed to Etsy's emphasis on handmade products, clothes, and crafts.
Tiny Lightbulb's success is bound to the success of its sellers, Mark says, and the company is running Google ads to promote certain products. While there's no fee for sellers to list a product on the site, the company takes a 13 percent commission on sales.