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Why the Potato Salad Kickstarter May Not Be a Joke

17th July 2014 1 comment

Zack Danger Brown and his Kickstarter campaign attempting to earn $10 to make a batch of potato salad has become something of an internet darling of late. The campaign has gone viral, been on many global news and media outlets, and surpassed its $10 goal almost instantly having raised $50,750 from 6,184 backers as of this publication. Brown did nothing wrong and, by all accounts, his Kickstarter had no reason for raising single cent. While most Kickstarter campaigns feature videos, timelines, target dates, and specifics about the project, the charm of Brown’s campaign seems to be the lack of all of those things. Below a stock photo of potato salad Brown wrote the following:

I’m making potato salad.

Basically I’m just making potato salad. I haven’t decided what kind yet.

Simple, honest, and enough to set the internet ablaze. People loved its lightheartedness and hey, it’s summer, you always need more potato salad! But is there more to it than this one campaign? Will the this be one of those things that starts to turn Kickstarter, and all crowdfunding, into little more than a joke? It’s difficult enough for musicians, small business owners, filmmakers, photographers, and a number of other entrepreneurs to fund ventures and projects- will this start a host of copycats who use a productive and lucrative source of funding, innovation, and engagement to try to turn themselves into the next ‘potato salad Kickstarter?’
Record label contracts, small business loans, funds for touring, and money for various projects is more difficult to come by than ever before. The wonderful thing about crowdfunding is that it allows those in need to get their projects funded and allows those who invest to get something in return! It also closes the gap between artists and fans and creates a sense that everyone is involved in the process together. We’re big fans of crowdfunding at Thirty Roses and, while Mr. Brown did nothing wrong and broke none of Kickstarter’s rules in starting his campaign, it seems that this may turn into one of those things that sets a precedent that needn’t be set. Many have suggested Zack Danger Brown donate the additional money raised in his campaign to any number of charities however, Kickstarter very specifically states in its rules that donating to or raising money for charity is prohibited. Kickstarter also makes it clear that they do not follow-up on project’s progress, that creators are legally obligated to follow through on projects, but no refunds are given to project backers in the event projects are not completed. Seemingly this kid will now be making a boat-load of potato salad (over $50k worth) but if he doesn’t there’s really not much to be done about it. I don’t suppose any backers donated money to Brown’s potato salad cause with the expectation that he’d become a side-dish magnate, however, if Brown is left with a handsome amount of money north of $50,000 it could well become yet another example cited when discussions turn to people getting money for nothing and why the public has lost faith in crowdfunding. Of course, thousands of people willingly gave Brown their money and chose to be active participants in this campaign, but as things change over time, people have a funny way of forgetting they contributed to the devolution of something.
It’s going to be interesting to see how this develops and what Zack Danger Brown is going to do to follow through on his commitment to backers. In the meantime, perhaps it’s time for Kickstarter, et al to pay closer attention to what projects they’re approving.



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