On their site, Kickstarter allows us to browse through 1,056 crowdfunding projects initiated in Alberta. Based on a brief overview of projects originated in the province’s six largest cities (searched by location and sorted by “most funded”), here are some approximate yet telling numbers. Roughly 30% of the Calgary projects succeeded and 80% of Edmonton campaigns flopped. Ten of 12 projects from Medicine Hat failed and 3 of 10 projects in Lethbridge flourished. All 26 projects launched from Red Deer were unsuccessful and all 10 projects from Fort McMurray bombed. In short, projects launched in major urban areas have been more successful. It would be interesting to gather and analyse similar data from popular crowdfunding platforms such as GoFundMe or Indigogo and see if they are consistent. That being said, here are the three successful Albertan projects that caught my attention.
Chartier, opening an authentic French-Canadian restaurant in the French-Canadian hometown of Beaumont, Alberta
On their Kickstarter page, Darren and Sylvia Cheverie write: “In 1895, when Beaumont was nothing more than a small French colony, Father Morin travelled to Ottawa to petition for a post office. With this petition, he presented a list of suggested names to give to the community. These were: Beaumont, Bellevue and Chartier. Beaumont was selected by Jean Royer for the town and Bellevue was later used for our elementary school, but Chartier remained unused...Until now”. This description, and the pitch that follows, both text and video, fit the requirement of telling a story of origin that is helpful for newcomers to an online audience and to ensure they understand fully the values that are at stake (Howard, 2010, p. 131-134). The campaign’s creators openly share their personal story, the story of their town, and the story behind the future restaurant they would like you to support. They even take the time to explain how Kickstarter works for those who are unfamiliar with crowdfunding. Openness and transparency constitute the strength of this campaign, which received a special “Kickstarter Staff Pick” label and “Project We Love” mention.
While the Chartier project is very clear about its origins, location and other site-specific information, that is not necessarily the case for other successful projects.
Another “Kickstarter Staff Pick” campaign is a project proposing crate-like frames that can properly display and hold up to 15 vinyl records at a time. VINYLFRAMETM is described as “a partnership between close friends who have always loved music, creativity, and woodworking”. Other than that the frames are “hand crafted in Canada from solid wood”, the description provided on Kickstarter does not specify where these “friends” are from, where they are located, where the frames are made or the provenance of the materials used. All we know is that the creator of the campaign, Matthew Ivan Knezevich, has launched it from Edmonton. We also learn in a message posted on November 17, 2015 that Edmonton backers can arrange for local pick-up of the product free of shipping charges. We can only assume that they are then made in and shipped from Edmonton. A short video showcases the product rather than the creators, their origin or place of business, and this could well explain the global diversity of the campaign backers (LA, Montreal, Singapore, Australia, etc.). After all, records are universal. Some users may wonder whether the VINYLFRAMETM are fair-trade wood products.
Speaking of fair-trade materials, a company called Original Canadian Beaver Clothing Co. (OCBCC) ran a campaign for the SHOODIE, a hoodie “made ethically in Canada” with “premium […] eco-friendly fabrics.” OCBCC emphasizes that it is a Canadian company but does not specify where it operates from or in which Canadian city the hoodies it makes come from, other than that they are made in Canada. Again, potential customers might wish that the people behind this venture were more forthcoming about where they are located and operating from. A quick Internet search on OCBCC was not helpful in the least in delivering that information, since their Facebook page is as cryptic as their Kickstarter campaign. All we really learn from the bio of Jason Holt, the campaign creator, is that he is a successful entrepreneur who has launched several successful clothing design and merchandising projects. All we know is that campaign was launched in Calgary and the Calgary Herald published a photo in May 2014 of models wearing “shoodies” in an online photo gallery called “Calgary's Kickstarter successes”.
Howard, T.W. (2010). Design to thrive: Creating social networks and online communities that last. Burlington, MA: Morgan Kaufmann