September 26th, 2018
Tracking Trends on Kickstarter with Kicktraq
I have to thank Mat Walker for tipping me off about this cool project tracking tool for Kickstarter projects. Kicktraq shows funding goals and the trends towards that goal. You can also look at pledging levels per day, average pledges and how many people have supported the project. I wanted to know more and talked to creator Adam Clark.
Crowdfundit: Can you tell me about Kicktraq?
Clark: Kicktraq grew out of a desire to just be better engaged in crowdfunding campaigns I was involved with. It all started when a friend of mine tipped me off to "this Kickstarter thing" when Cards Against Humanity was active. I didn't understand that there was a time component involved when he described it to me, so by the time I remembered to go look it up it had already closed and I was out of luck. I started looking around at other projects and noticed a lot of neat board & card game projects people were curating and self-funding, and I was totally hooked. I'm a big board games guy and seeing individuals bring these prototypes and concepts to Kickstarter and asking me, their potential customer, to vote with my dollar and help them was really liberating as a consumer, and I'm sure for the content creators. Not only was I saying "yes this idea is cool" but I had the potential to actually be a part of that creative process. Yes, I like the wood meeples - no, I don't like glow in the dark dice - etc. It was, and still is, an incredible experience.
Within days of my first experience with crowdfunding I was hooked. Wanting to stay engaged and know the progress of the campaigns I was pledging on, it didn't take long before I was setting up spreadsheets to follow these campaigns in detail. While the information most platforms provide is sufficient to see the general progress, it didn't give me any indication of the direction or acceleration of the campaign. This then lead to trying to work out trend and other patterns for the various campaigns. Spreadsheets and charts morphed into a simplistic web app, which further morphed into automated ways of aquiring the data for all the projects as a more robust way of working with project data. I kept working on this over the course of a few weeks, then built a browser extension for Firefox to automate the process of adding projects. After sharing it with a few friends to help me gather data from projects they were watching, I started building some of the first charts people use today.
So, as a board gaming person, some folks were chatting on boardgamegeek.com about a couple projects and the impact that Kickstarter was having on new games. I made the mistake of embedding one of the dynamic charts of one of the projects I was watching instead of using a static version. Someone figured out you could replace the path and get charts for other projects and posted one on the Wasteland Kickstarter campaign.
“Once I realized the cat was out of the bag, it was somewhat like having someone bring a crowd of people over to your messy house.”
I woke up the next day and saw I'd gone from a dozen or so test projects to 58 which I found odd. By lunch when there were over 200 and I knew something was wrong. Once I realized the cat was out of the bag, it was somewhat like having someone bring a crowd of people over to your messy house. I spent the next 2 days cleaning up and adding some of the basic functionality you see on Kicktraq today. Now, more than 16k backer-added projects across the spectrum of crowdfunding and nearly 100,000 charts later, here we are.
Crowdfund it: Wow, that’s an amazing story! Your own little pet project released into the wild! One thing I’d really like you to explain is how Klicktraq obtains the data from the Kickstarter campaigns?
Clark: I acquire the data directly from the Kickstarter project pages via scraping.
Crowdfundit note: For those not familiar with the term ‘scraping’, Wikipedia gives a helpful definition on this page that includes “web scraping focuses more on the transformation of unstructured data on the web, typically in HTML format, into structured data that can be stored and analyzed in a central local database or spreadsheet.”
Do your research, prepare accordingly, bring a following to your campaign, communicate with your backers, and trust your gut." .
Crowdfund it: What are the most important things you’ve learnt about crowdfunding since creating Kicktraq?
Clark: No magic technology bullet or countless expert opinions can ever perfectly predict the outcome of every campaign. Do your research, prepare accordingly, bring a following to your campaign, communicate with your backers, and trust your gut. The rest is going to be trying to just enjoy the ride and hopefully bringing your backers along with you.
Crowdfund it: How has the response been by users?
Clark: I continue to be amazed with how openly thankful folks are for the tools I give them. I'm thankful my little hobby has turned into a tool to help others and they keep coming back to the site for more, so I suppose I'm doing something right!
Crowdfund it: If you were able to do this with Kickstarter campaigns is it able to be used on other platforms?
Clark: Absolutely! I'm working on similar toolsets for other platforms. The more folks I'm able to help, the better!
Crowdfund itI I interviewed Phil Bosua for Crowdfund it! when he was running their first campaign for Scanbox. I’ve also pledged to their new project - LIFX: The Light Bulb Reinvented. With your knowledge what can you tell me about their latest project?
Clark: I generally don't discuss open projects, but for all intents, it's closed up tight. They're just waiting for their money at this point.
From a reference perspective, as a product project, it's a very unusual curve but with fixed numbers of funding levels you'll have that. Much like the last 10 days of the Pebble campaign, once they closed off their levels, for better or worse, their campaign is a function of their own success. However, unlike most quickly successful projects that reach a cap, they've done a good job at redirecting folks to a secondary location to obtain their product after the campaign, which is one thing a lot of other projects never consider. A lot of folks have that that whole "What do I do now?" moment once all the packages are out the door. At least the LIFX folks had the foresight to not lose that traffic. Like I mentioned earlier, sometimes you're just along for the ride. All you can do is take your backers with you, and they've taken them along to their own site so they can continue to engage them even after their project is completed.
Crowdfund it Thanks Adam, really interested to hear your thoughts on that!
To learn more about crowdfunding Crowdfund it! offers insight into 38 platforms and an extensive Tips for Success section.
Author: Anna Maguire