A couple of interviews with more information on Make That Thing, the new company that helps successful Kickstarter campaign actually send out all their rewards. it’s a division of TopatoCo, the webcomics’s merchandising company which already has a formidable infrastructure—a fork lift!, warehouses, employees!—and manufacturing contacts to help their cartoonists sell their merch. The program is rolling out slowly as an in house project. Todd Allen talks to David Malki about some of the metrics:
PW: How do you price this sort of service?
MALKI: Generally speaking, on the net [profits of the Kickstarter campaign]. This is another area where Machine of Death and The Tomorrow Girl are going to be our test cases to see where the bottlenecks are when coordinating between a site like Kickstarter and our existing workflows. Establishing the workflows is going to determine the pricing, and there may also be variation depending on the particulars of the project. But the watchword is collaboration: we want to be a service to creators, not a liability. We want everyone in this exchange to be successful. So by pricing on the net, we have a vested interest in efficiency, but it still scales with the success (and the complexity) of the project.
Over at Fleen, Gary Tyrell talking to the other principle, Holly Rowland:
Fleen: So once things open up and Jenny Q. Cartoonist is getting ready to Kickstart Yurt Days, when does she contact you? Are you going to need clients to work with you to lay out their campaigns, and especially their estimated delivery dates?
Rowland: Ideally, we would work with the client from the beginning. They would contact us with a short proposal (we will have an online form) and if our panel of experts decides that the project is a good fit, then we work with the creator to figure out all of the bits and what their goal should be. I have been doing A LOT of reading about crowd funding and the challenges therein, and budgeting and goals is a really big one for some.
Delivery dates are also an issue that comes up time and time again. We want to build in a 6-8 month tight turnaround, and make the artist stick to the deadlines.
Fleen: How big do you see MTT getting? On the one hand, you need to keep a schedule of projects such that your employees stay busy. On the other hand, you can’t be so packed full that an unexpectedly big success messes up your logistics for the next two months.
Rowland: We’re going to take it slow for the first year and only run one or two campaigns at a time². That feels manageable, and gives us space to tweak as we go. After that, who knows? If we could afford to hire a campaign manager for each campaign, that is something I would love to do. A Kickstarter sherpa, if you will.
So as you can see this is a pilot program that will probably stay within the company for a while, not the solution to shipping out Veronica Mars dvds. If it works out—and we can’t see why it wouldn’t given TopatoCo’s resources and strang management—we’d imaine other companies would spring up to do much the same thing.
BTW, reading between the lines of Malki and Rowland’s comments this is more a partnership than a fulfillment house. If you squint a little bit, it looks kind of like the services of a traditional publisher, only the money is coming directly from the consumers. What’s revolutionary about the whole process is that it allows the transaction between creator and consumer to be as transparent as possible, but the actual services are much the same. Sometimes everyone goes a different way to see the same thing.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.