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(Quartz)   This man lost his house because his Kickstarter was too successful   (qz.com) divider line 44
    More: Dumbass, Chinese Girl  
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22199 clicks; posted to Main » on 17 Jun 2013 at 12:56 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-06-17 01:00:37 PM  
13 votes:
Sounds like he just sucks at running a business, and math.
2013-06-17 01:07:18 PM  
6 votes:
This man lost  his house one of his houses because his Kickstarter was too successful he sucks at project planning.
2013-06-17 01:01:26 PM  
5 votes:
Big promises, insufficient goal to cover those promises, didn't have an interpreter hired, didn't design the packaging right...

Sounds like a mismanaged clusterfark all around.
2013-06-17 01:01:16 PM  
5 votes:

"This man lost his house because his Kickstarter was too successful "


Jeebus, what a farked up misleading headline. He lost his house because he decided to stop making payments on it, not that he seemed to give a fark in the first place.

"Running out of cash and faced with expenses from every avenue, Carter stopped making the mortgage on a house he owned outside Boston, which was also his company address. He eventually lost the house. (Carter, who lives in Amsterdam, admits that had he lived in the Boston house, he might not have sacrificed it for the game.)"

2013-06-17 01:35:31 PM  
4 votes:
So, I'm confused.

Guy starts Kickstarter campaign to fund his hobby, promising free shipping for folks that donate, even though he actually has no idea what global shipping costs would be involved.
Guy outsources work to China, although he can't speak Chinese nor conduct business there in any knowledgeable manner.
Guy screws up Chinese business relationship and Chinese romantic relationship, leaving him unable to communicate or work with with outsourcer.
Guy screws up shipping arrangements, resulting in damaged games and high shipping costs.
Guy's hobby eats into his work time, screwing up his day job, blowing his finances, and costing him a house.

Article's take? "This man lost his house because his Kickstarter was too successful." Really?

No. This man is out six figures because he's a goddamned moron. That's it. Anyone who would donate to any other Kickstarter effort led or connected to this guy is a fool.
2013-06-17 01:33:59 PM  
4 votes:
I like Kickstarter, but I know going in that I'm not getting an order like Amazon, I'm not getting a refund or any customer service, and the money is gone if the project flops. So it's my job to do due diligence before handing cash over.

Any project with grandiose claims and no demo (even a PDF for print and play testing) is automatically out, no matter how cool. Any project that talks about developing rather than producing something (as in, "I have an idea so give me money" rather than "I have a basic working concept and need money to make it cool")  is out. Any project that claims to be revolutionary is out.

So far, I've got a pretty good track record and have received some pretty cool stuff. But I'm not an investor; I'm buying an idea.
2013-06-17 01:09:50 PM  
4 votes:
How about you have your shiat together before begging people for money.
2013-06-17 01:20:59 PM  
3 votes:
I was one of the backers in this Kickstarter. All I wanted to say was the end product looked great and I had no issues with the delivery time frame. But Im a patient reasonable person, so I guess Im in the minority
2013-06-17 01:11:18 PM  
3 votes:
I was expecting a story about Kickstarter money being counted as personal assets even though he couldn't use them for personal expenditures and that somehow resulted in a foreclosure.

This story just sucked, and I completely agree with the commenter quoted at the end of the article.
2013-06-17 01:55:20 PM  
2 votes:

secularsage: dv-ous: Big promises, insufficient goal to cover those promises, didn't have an interpreter hired, didn't design the packaging right...

Sounds like a mismanaged clusterfark all around.

To be fair, these are exactly the sorts of mistakes that amateurs make in publishing or making just about anything that requires relying on outside entities to produce. There's a steep learning curve in creating goods, and it's often an expensive curve at that.


It's an easy learning curve actually.  Businesses are not your friends.  Businesses are not competent.  Businesses WILL fark up in creative and unexpected ways.  Businesses will NOT accept responsibility for their fark up without an iron clad contract and possibly law enforcement on your side, but don't rely on that.  Triple check EVERYTHING!
2013-06-17 01:25:19 PM  
2 votes:

FrancoFile: Rezurok: This man lost  his house one of his houses because his Kickstarter was too successful he sucks at project planning and was too stupid to hire an experienced logistics manager.


Choosing to do business directly with China despite not speaking Chinese likely didn't help him either.  Going through a publisher, choosing a manufacturer who operated in a country where he spoke the language, or putting a disclaimer that the free shipping would only be available in certain countries could have solved him a heap of trouble.

On the bright side, it's a heck of a learning experience so next time he'll know what to do differently.
2013-06-17 01:20:06 PM  
2 votes:
The really funny thing is that he sort of goes on in the original rulebook for Glory to Rome about how smart he must be because he went to MIT.

I might not be very smart, but my household is solvent.
2013-06-17 01:19:34 PM  
2 votes:
A relative of mine runs a moderately sucessful RPG publishing company that also uses Kickstarter frequently to fund new releases.   Even as bright and business savvy as he is, he's run into some real nasty shocks along the way, like the incredibly high price for international frieght shipping that reneder KS contributions from overseas donors more or less a "push" with the cost to ship them their games.
2013-06-17 01:15:53 PM  
2 votes:
He lost his house because he tried to publish his own game.

Been a gamer since childhood, spent a lot of time hanging out in many a game store, have known the principals of a number of smaller gaming companies.  I have yet to know anyone who tried to put out a game like this that didn't end up losing their shirt.

Doesn't matter how good your game is; if you're not prepared for the business aspect of the venture, you're farked.

Dude should have sold his idea or partnered with Cheap Ass Games or a company like that.
2013-06-17 01:13:06 PM  
2 votes:

Rezurok: This man lost  his house one of his houses because his Kickstarter was too successful he sucks at project planning and was too stupid to hire an experienced logistics manager.

2013-06-17 01:07:02 PM  
2 votes:
While I am sympathetic, he needs to add "not protecting bothering to protect myself with an LLC or S-corp" to his list of stupid mistakes.

/TFA says he lives in Amsterdam, so I guess YMMV depending on where he considers himself doing business.
2013-06-17 01:06:27 PM  
2 votes:
Kickstarter: For when you can't get a project funded by actual investors who run due dilligence.
2013-06-17 06:16:44 PM  
1 votes:

quietwalker: bjorky: lemurs: As I recall, the Ogre Designer's Edition from Steve Jackson Games also had difficulty breaking even despite getting almost $1 million in Kickstarter funds, and that had a bunch of experienced professionals working on it.  So it's no surprise when amateurs wind up suffering from Stretch Goal scope creep and get in way over their heads.

Steve Jackson's Ogre campaign was a labor of love for him, and was priced as it was because he wanted to sell a game to fans rather than make large profits.  The game itself is a 25-pound box of paper that is ca. 28" x 24" x 10".  In reality, a product like that should have cost $250 or should have been meted out into separate expansions, but the goal of the project was to celebrate one of Steve Jackson's favorite designs.

Also, as someone with a bit of inside knowledge about Steve Jackson Games - my wife worked there for some time - I can tell you that he's not really good with money.  Not ever.  He goes through a sequence of accountants whom he then fires, blames for his problems, and has his mother do the accounting.

When printing, they have to rotate around, because he won't pay a printer until he has to use them again, and then tries to bargain down in the form of, "I'll pay you X percent of our last bill if you print this one," and so on.

In the end, it's the employees there that really bear the brunt of these tactics, as they are burned through and discarded or have their pay cut to meet payroll, or have their name removed from their work and credit given to a long time employee who really only does miniatures.  Really, it's a pretty horrible time all around, especially considering that he lives off of other people's love for gaming, abuses that, and spits them out.

So his money problems aren't necessarily associated with this project.  They're endemic to how he does business.


I have numerous friends and two close family members in the gaming industry. It is my understanding that Steve Jackson is a major, major asshole.
2013-06-17 05:54:33 PM  
1 votes:

bjorky: lemurs: As I recall, the Ogre Designer's Edition from Steve Jackson Games also had difficulty breaking even despite getting almost $1 million in Kickstarter funds, and that had a bunch of experienced professionals working on it.  So it's no surprise when amateurs wind up suffering from Stretch Goal scope creep and get in way over their heads.

Steve Jackson's Ogre campaign was a labor of love for him, and was priced as it was because he wanted to sell a game to fans rather than make large profits.  The game itself is a 25-pound box of paper that is ca. 28" x 24" x 10".  In reality, a product like that should have cost $250 or should have been meted out into separate expansions, but the goal of the project was to celebrate one of Steve Jackson's favorite designs.


Also, as someone with a bit of inside knowledge about Steve Jackson Games - my wife worked there for some time - I can tell you that he's not really good with money.  Not ever.  He goes through a sequence of accountants whom he then fires, blames for his problems, and has his mother do the accounting.

When printing, they have to rotate around, because he won't pay a printer until he has to use them again, and then tries to bargain down in the form of, "I'll pay you X percent of our last bill if you print this one," and so on.

In the end, it's the employees there that really bear the brunt of these tactics, as they are burned through and discarded or have their pay cut to meet payroll, or have their name removed from their work and credit given to a long time employee who really only does miniatures.  Really, it's a pretty horrible time all around, especially considering that he lives off of other people's love for gaming, abuses that, and spits them out.

So his money problems aren't necessarily associated with this project.  They're endemic to how he does business.
2013-06-17 05:50:41 PM  
1 votes:
Never place the future of your business in the hands of romance.
2013-06-17 05:11:14 PM  
1 votes:

Gunther: dywed88: I am going to disagree with number 2. That was a nifty little idea on his part to 1) simplify shipping as you ship to fewer destinations, 2) make contacts with stores and get your product into them, and 3) decrease shipping costs.

The problem with it is that it's something that shouldn't be promised in a Kickstarter without making sure it was doable first. He had no idea how hard it would be to arrange or whether it would even be feasible when he promised it.


But it WAS possible, he just didn't do the research into doing it properly.

orbister: dywed88: Now if it was a universal requirement it brings along potential issues, but if he contacted stores in cities and lined them up and said "if you pick up your game at one of these stores, shipping is reduced by so much" it would be a great little win for everyone.

What's in it for the shop?


More people in your store. More people knowing ABOUT your store. It's a pretty ingenious plan, IMO.

Satanic_Hamster: Like I said, I know a lot of people in the gaming industry and a number of tried to go the self publishing route, pre-kickstarter. The failure rate is DAMN high. Trying to self publish a game is pretty much throwing your money away, even if you have an awesome game.


Yes, it is. But Kickstarter now exists, and if done correctly, can be a great way to launch a new game. See: Sentinels of the Universe, Cards Against Humanity (which was virtually all the same rules set from Apples to Apples, just with a twisted theme), and a whole variety of RPGs by veteran (and not-so-veteran) game designers. My household failed to back SotM and CAH because we just didn't hear about them. However, we've supported 12 Days, Superfight, the Pathfinder MMO, the Reaper Bones minis set, the new Dwarven Forge stuff, and Monte Cook's Numenera. The guy in the article got overfunded by about 350%. Reaper was overfunded by 11,000% and Dwarven Forge by 3800%. And Dwarven Forge is run by a guy out of his house. So the dude in the article was a total noob who didn't know how to run a business. He relied on what was apparently a girlfriend to translate for him. He didn't know ANYTHING about shipping or publishing. He failed to do his research, and it ruined him.
2013-06-17 04:32:37 PM  
1 votes:

dywed88: I am going to disagree with number 2. That was a nifty little idea on his part to 1) simplify shipping as you ship to fewer destinations, 2) make contacts with stores and get your product into them, and 3) decrease shipping costs.


The problem with it is that it's something that shouldn't be promised in a Kickstarter without making sure it was doable first. He had no idea how hard it would be to arrange or whether it would even be feasible when he promised it.
2013-06-17 04:07:49 PM  
1 votes:

bjorky: As many Farkers have identified, this is a cautionary tale of someone without experience and a without a good plan going into business based on the notion that his idea is smarter than conventional retail and distribution channels.  He promised the moon without a shred of an idea about what the actual costs would be to fulfill his promises. I have several friends who have had very successful Kickstarter game projects (including at least one that funded at $250K), and they have had success because they have their shiat together.

Lessons to learn
1) Don't base your ability to communicate with your manufacturers on a personal relationship.
2) Don't try to go for some bizarre scheme of distribution where backers pick their product up at a retailer -- not only does it require a high-level of logistical planning, but the plan also places a lot of trust into retailers to handle your fulfillment.
3) Have an idea of what your shipping costs are going to be before you promote free shipping -- If you end up losing money on each item you ship, you fail at math.


I am going to disagree with number 2. That was a nifty little idea on his part to 1) simplify shipping as you ship to fewer destinations, 2) make contacts with stores and get your product into them, and 3) decrease shipping costs.

Now if it was a universal requirement it brings along potential issues, but if he contacted stores in cities and lined them up and said "if you pick up your game at one of these stores, shipping is reduced by so much" it would be a great little win for everyone.

The offering services without any idea of the cost and not getting a new contact who spoke Chinese when the person he was working with left were the big issues.
2013-06-17 02:44:31 PM  
1 votes:
I'd guess his gf broke up with him when she realized she was vitally important working as an interpreter but he wasn't willing to pay a fair salary.  "You're my girlfriend, don't you want to help me?  This is for us." doesn't pay the rent.
2013-06-17 02:39:56 PM  
1 votes:
Okay, yeah, he's an idiot. But I think Life magazine had the same sort of problem in the 30s. They sold advertising contracts at start-up rates and then quickly became wildly popular. They had to print tons of copies while tied into tiny revenue.
2013-06-17 02:38:26 PM  
1 votes:
Carter cut out middlemen and went directly to a Chinese producer. But soon after he made the link, his Chinese-speaking head of operations quit over disagreements about free shipping and his relationship with a Chinese girl fell apart, leaving him with nobody who could speak Chinese.

Plotting their evil scheme...

imgc.artprintimages.com

We will invest the stupid round-eye's money into our Penis Mightier!
imgc.allpostersimages.com

Naturally, you will wish to try it yourself, first.
24.media.tumblr.com

Stand in the kitty's litter box.  It will absorb the excess Penis Mightier rays.
i309.photobucket.com

Yes, she rides like an old pickup with a busted suspension.
i309.photobucket.com
I forgot to mention; if erection persists for more than four hours of rough sex... a surgical adjustment might be necessary.

Obamacare does not cover this so,
i309.photobucket.com
You might have to sell your HOUSE!!!

MWUHAHAHAHAHAHAAA!!!
2013-06-17 02:29:05 PM  
1 votes:
Wow, he farked up at every step. That said, Kickstarter is investing for the masses. Sometimes people are going to lose their money.
2013-06-17 02:20:54 PM  
1 votes:

abfalter: For what it is worth, designing a good board game is hard.  I spent quite a bit of time working on one and decided, ultimately, that it was not good enough of a game to put my name on it.

The basic ideas are not hard but getting a game to be fun, replayable, with balance and lending itself to varied strategies is a much taller order.


Here's the thing about this story though... He didn't design the game.  He took a working game, Glory to Rome, and gave it new art, better cards, and a really nice box and play mats, and sold it through Kickstarter.  I got my copy about a year after the Kickstarter campaign, and it is a really fun game... but the 4th edition version was exactly as fun, and I wouldn't have had to wait a year for a copy.

I'm glad I did eventually get my copy though... so far only one KS project I've backed has completely disappeared.  Here's to hoping that's all.
2013-06-17 02:06:37 PM  
1 votes:
For what it is worth, designing a good board game is hard.  I spent quite a bit of time working on one and decided, ultimately, that it was not good enough of a game to put my name on it.

The basic ideas are not hard but getting a game to be fun, replayable, with balance and lending itself to varied strategies is a much taller order.
2013-06-17 02:04:48 PM  
1 votes:

Jacob_Roberson: and his relationship with a Chinese girl fell apart, leaving him with nobody who could speak Chinese.

That was your plan? You picked up a Chinese GF so you could work with China?


That was the best part IMHO. His business failed because he stopped sleeping with someone who could translate for him.
2013-06-17 02:04:42 PM  
1 votes:

lemurs: As I recall, the Ogre Designer's Edition from Steve Jackson Games also had difficulty breaking even despite getting almost $1 million in Kickstarter funds, and that had a bunch of experienced professionals working on it.  So it's no surprise when amateurs wind up suffering from Stretch Goal scope creep and get in way over their heads.


Steve Jackson's Ogre campaign was a labor of love for him, and was priced as it was because he wanted to sell a game to fans rather than make large profits.  The game itself is a 25-pound box of paper that is ca. 28" x 24" x 10".  In reality, a product like that should have cost $250 or should have been meted out into separate expansions, but the goal of the project was to celebrate one of Steve Jackson's favorite designs.
2013-06-17 02:03:03 PM  
1 votes:
FTFA : Running out of cash and faced with expenses from every avenue, Carter stopped making the mortgage on a house he owned outside Boston, which was also his company address. He eventually lost the house. (Carter, who lives in Amsterdam, admits that had he lived in the Boston house, he might not have sacrificed it for the game.)

He lives in Amsterdam, but owns a house in Boston which is his business address?  This doesn't sound like a "my company lost money" story, it smells like a "I'm a scam artist" story.
2013-06-17 01:39:12 PM  
1 votes:
and his relationship with a Chinese girl fell apart, leaving him with nobody who could speak Chinese.

That was your plan? You picked up a Chinese GF so you could work with China?
2013-06-17 01:38:08 PM  
1 votes:

secularsage: To be fair, these are exactly the sorts of mistakes that amateurs make in publishing or making just about anything that requires relying on outside entities to produce.


I would hope that most people would be smart enough to not offer free worldwide shipping on something as physically large as a board game, or to fail to tell anyone that pallets of cardboard boxes were too fragile to stack, or any of the other obvious mistakes the article lists.

Honestly, I have some sympathy for him (running a small business in a creative field is hard work and rarely profitable), but it doesn't change the fact that he's clearly a dumbass. It's like watching one of those realty shows where people who have never worked in a restaurant try to run a restaurant, then are astonished when they go bankrupt in six months.
2013-06-17 01:38:00 PM  
1 votes:

Jument: Call me old and grumpy but every time someone links me a kickstarter that's supposed to be the greatest thing since sliced bread, to me it just seems lame and stupid.


No, you're just pragmatic - most such efforts I've seen on Kickstarter are just that. There have been a couple of worthwhile efforts, and I've donated to them, but for the most part, I skip anything that claims to be "revolutionary" or appears to be based on vaporware of any sort, and far too much of what's on Kickstarter appears to be just that.
2013-06-17 01:37:29 PM  
1 votes:
As I recall, the Ogre Designer's Edition from Steve Jackson Games also had difficulty breaking even despite getting almost $1 million in Kickstarter funds, and that had a bunch of experienced professionals working on it.  So it's no surprise when amateurs wind up suffering from Stretch Goal scope creep and get in way over their heads.
2013-06-17 01:35:01 PM  
1 votes:

Satanic_Hamster: ProfessorOhki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cards_Against_Humanity

I know any of these people?


Ah, the semantics between, "know" and "know of." Technically correct, yet it turns your original post from simply mistaken to "CSB."
2013-06-17 01:24:25 PM  
1 votes:
Call me old and grumpy but every time someone links me a kickstarter that's supposed to be the greatest thing since sliced bread, to me it just seems lame and stupid.
2013-06-17 01:21:52 PM  
1 votes:

Satanic_Hamster: Been a gamer since childhood, spent a lot of time hanging out in many a game store, have known the principals of a number of smaller gaming companies. I have yet to know anyone who tried to put out a game like this that didn't end up losing their shirt.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cards_Against_Humanity
2013-06-17 01:11:42 PM  
1 votes:

ThatDarkFellow: I can only hope something like this happens to Tim Schafer and his "indie" outfit.

/60 team company that needs rotating projects is not a god damn indie company you greedy fark


Without those high-profile projects, I doubt half the people who actively donate to kickstarter projects would have ever heard of it. They did a lot to get the ball rolling, and really, being able to judge demand and essentially do preordering before going into production eliminates a ton of risk which is great for everyone.

The only ones that deserve to fail are the ones who can't deliver and can't keep schedule.
2013-06-17 01:06:33 PM  
1 votes:
Maybe he should write a book about it -- call it "Kickstarting A Business For Dummies."
2013-06-17 01:05:48 PM  
1 votes:

dv-ous: Big promises, insufficient goal to cover those promises, didn't have an interpreter hired, didn't design the packaging right...

Sounds like a mismanaged clusterfark all around.


To be fair, these are exactly the sorts of mistakes that amateurs make in publishing or making just about anything that requires relying on outside entities to produce. There's a steep learning curve in creating goods, and it's often an expensive curve at that.
2013-06-17 01:04:02 PM  
1 votes:
I can only hope something like this happens to Tim Schafer and his "indie" outfit.

/60 team company that needs rotating projects is not a god damn indie company you greedy fark
2013-06-17 12:41:34 PM  
1 votes:
He wasn't prepared for the scale of his success.
 
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