Why You Shouldn’t Back Potato Salad, But Should Watch Its Every Move
As with most things that go viral, the recent potato salad Kickstarter project is quite polarizing. Just in case you somehow missed this, here is the short version: A kid from Colombus, Ohio is making a potato salad, and he’s crowdfunding it with Kickstarter. He asked for $10, and he is now funded at just over $60,000. I am personally of the “why does this exist” category, and feel it violates Kickstarter policies. However, the fact remains that this project is funded at approximately 610000%. Say what you want about the legitimacy of potato salad, but given so many gaming projects are made possible through Kickstarter, it’s important to understand just why potato salad is so successful.
How this is worth $60,000 explained
It’s cliché to say it, but timing is everything. Potato salad launched on July 2nd, which of course put it right before the giant collective barbecue potluck fest that is the 4th of July. In doing so, Brown (the guy who started the project) managed to launch his Kickstarter at the exact moment he needed to. Everyone was busy attending cookouts, catching up with old family members, and doing other Fourth of July related things. In this process, regardless of where you stand on potato salad, you probably saw one or two bowls. In releasing potato salad when he did, Powers ensured that lots of people would be thinking about potato salad, and I’m sure that interest helped his cause out somewhat.
Slow and Steady
Powers also managed to do what so many other Kickstarters fail to do, and that’s ensure success. We’ve seen countless Kickstarters fail, simply because they seek too much too fast. Powers launched at 10 dollars. Backing a Kickstarter project turns you into an investor, and investors don’t like high risk projects. Backing potato salad is a very safe investment, because regardless of whether the project succeeds or fails, your entry cost is very miniscule and safe. No matter what the project content is, it’s a lot easier to throw one dollar at a $10 projcet than to throw one dollar at a $100,000 project.
Not only did Powers secure investors with a low entry cost, but he was able to snowball his idea with very easy to reach stretch goals. His first stretch goal was priced at $35, and was for him to make four times as much potato salad. In keeping this stretch figure low, Powers set up his Kickstarter so that helping him reach that low figure was more emotionally rewarding than the actual reward tier. By repeating this process several times over, Powers was able to get the entry value which eventually contributed to the project going viral.
There isn’t any cookie cutter formula for determining what does and doesn’t go viral, but Powers somehow managed to land in the does category. This is what pushed him from the miniscule $100 – $500 range into the impressive $60,000 range he’s at currently. After the project went viral, more investors threw money at the project “for the lulz” than those who actually supported the project or wanted to achieve reward tiers. At that point, the project was simply snowballing and the viral component resulted in more funds than anything else could.
Kickstarter has had it's fair share of viral projects
What the Project Actually Is
So what exactly is Potato Salad? Some will say its satire. Others will say it’s a work of art. Many think it’s stupid and are frustrated by its existence. It will remain to be seen if investors actually expect their rewards, or if this is simply the outcome of going viral. If people expect their rewards, something tells me sending one bite of the potato salad to four thousand people or printing close to 700 tshirts will be harder than Powers initially expected. If people didn’t expect anything to come of this, and Kickstarter won’t remove the project, then Powers stands to pocket a chunk of cash that is larger than a handful of blue collar annual salaries.
Regardless, watching everything Powers does is crucial to anyone who is planning on launching a Kickstarter project because he did everything right. His timing and general operation were superb, and then he just got lucky with the viral snowball. Say what you want about that aspect of the project, but the fact of the matter is that the internet threw $60,000 at a bowl of potato salad.