Crowdfunding has launched some amazing businesses and cutting edge products, from high tech digital gadgets to far simpler art projects, movies and books. The idea is spreading fast and Hornby Hobbies in the UK, owner of Airfix Models, has just launched KitStarter, a program that allows model builders to fund the return of their favorite classic models from years past. What a great idea!
Just like the established crowdfunding sites, the backers essentially place a pre-order, in this case, for the vintage model kits. If there is enough support to make it worthwhile for the company to produce it, they set up the production run and the modelers get their kits. If pre-orders are insufficient, the project is cancelled and the backers are not charged, so they're not risking any money and neither is the company.
More companies in more product categories should follow this model. In a time when introducing a new product can be a risky proposition, the crowdfunding method eliminates a great deal of uncertainty and enables the introduction, or in this case, reintroduction, of products that would otherwise never make it to market. Heathkit should look at this closely.
Over the years, Airfix has produced model cars, airplanes, ships, military models and a whole lot more. As model building declined in popularity, the company fell on hard times and after several changes of ownership, now operates under the umbrella of Hornby Hobbies. It's understandable they would tread carefully before bringing new or classic models to market and the crowdfunding method seems to be a natural fit. Currently the only offerings in the KitStarter phase are models of birds, maybe not what most of us would find appealing, but you can log in to their forum and give them suggestions of what you would like to see.
I have to believe there will be a lot more of this while the economy struggles to gain its footing, and there's every reason to think it will bring new success to businesses that might not otherwise be able to expand. This is worth watching.