Kickstarter Closes the Door On Digital Health


Kickstarter announced new project submission rules this week that for most startups and project owners will come as welcomed news. The crowdfunding giant has relaxed their once restrictive campaign submission standards, opening themselves up to a larger pool of potential users. The new rules were put in place to bring Kickstarter in line with the growing number of competitors in the crowdfunding space, like Indiegogo, that have been leveraging their “anything goes” campaign policies to gain traction.

The new rules expand the scope of Kickstarter’s original goal, which was to build a platform for funding “creative projects,” and opens the site up to campaigns from just about anyone, with one disappointing exception:

“Any item claiming to cure, treat, or prevent an illness or condition (whether via a device, app, book, nutritional supplement, or other means).” – Kickstarter Guidelines

Digital health is being left out in the cold with the relatively few other groups that remain unwelcome, such as political fundraisers, or companies that sell weapons, tobacco, or porn. It is unfortunate that digital health innovators are still being kept at bay, considering that Kickstarter campaigns typically raise more money and get more media coverage than Indiegogo campaigns.

One group of researchers recently concluded that Kickstarter campaigns raise an average of six-times more money than Indiegogo campaigns, and that Indiegogo has only funded 7 percent of the million dollar campaigns that Kickstarter has funded.

For these reasons, Kickstarter has the reputation of being the best crowdfunding platform today. To back this claim up, the company recently announced that it had funded $1 billion in successful projects since its 2009 launch, including Pebble’s massive $10 million campaign. Kickstarter has funded several more campaigns that closed in the $6 to $8 million range. In contrast, Indiegogo’s highest funded campaign’s peak just over the $2 million mark.

There are some notable advantages to funding with Indiegogo, such as the ability to run flexible funding campaigns, which do not require you to meet your funding goal to keep the money that was pledged to your campaign. Indiegogo’s customer service also has a better reputation. Many digital health companies like Scanadu, which raised $1.5 million for the Scanadu Scout, have run successful campaigns with Indiegogo despite its smaller presence in the crowdfunding space.

While its encouraging to see Kickstarter loosen its acceptance criteria, its discouraging to see that its new inclusive approach to crowdfunding still excludes digital health startups.

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