A 22-year-old Toronto man has nearly hit his funding target for a new product on Crowdtilt. What the product actually is remains a mystery to all who have decided to give their money to it.
In yet another example of how anything is possible in crowdfunding, Jordan Bishop is trying to get at least 250 backers at $9 apiece, but he’s not telling them what exactly he’s selling them. So far he’s already attracted 226 at the time of writing.
“I started this just expected to get a few friends to support me, because they know I do good work and try to build quality products,” said Bishop. “After a couple of minutes complete strangers who read the Medium article started saying, ‘I don’t know what you’re doing but I want in,’ and it was surprising.”
It’s a particularly interesting subject after the infamous Potato Salad Kickstarter rocked the tech news world last week, in which Zach Danger Brown’s project to make a bowl of potato salad earned him over $51,000 in backer commitments, with 14 days to go. That project partially ridiculed the popular crowdfunding site’s reputation, but it also pointed to how looser restrictions for projects means that lots of people will inevitably get others to fund otherwise useless, wacky or downright mysterious projects.
“I’m going to do something I’ve never seen done before: I’m going to sell you my product before I tell you what it is,” wrote Bishop. “It’s something you will give to someone else. It could be anyone from a co-worker to your significant other; it’s just as appropriate for either.”
Each unit retails for $4.50 and the nine dollar commitment will get backers three units. Bishop wrote that he’s been working on this product for several months now. “I’ve had two different designers specialize in the two intricate processes required to build the physical product, and I’ve worked with countless manufacturers and suppliers of everything from raw materials to packaging to make sure every component of the finished product is just right. I’m not cutting any corners,” he wrote.
So why are people giving their money to a project that they basically know nothing about? Well, given the behaviour of people on the Internet, I say why not?
What I can say is Bishop has played this nearly perfectly, from the wording in the email I was pitched to cover this story, to the wording in his Medium post, to the pure originality and creativity of thinking up such an idea.
Bishop himself wasn’t too surprised, given how he’s already promised a solid product on the Crowdtilt subject. He said that a huge part of his identity is now on the Internet, it would be too hard to cheat people. His reputation rests online and he thinks he just wouldn’t get away with it.
I asked Bishop if he feels greater pressure to satisfy the burning curiosity of all his backers with a product that will satisfy. In reality, it won’t satisfy everyone’s unique tastes. Regardless, the Toronto entrepreneur was confident.
“I know that the product I’ve developed is the best that I can do and I think people are really going to love it. I don’t feel any pressure at all because I’m 100% confident in the product that Ive built,” he said.
And as I hit the “publish” button, the confident Bishop’s backer number has raised to 244.