Kickstarter launched its Hardware Studio program last year in partnership with Avnet and Dragon Innovation. The idea was to help small teams navigate the world of hardware manufacturing and, ultimately, get them to actually deliver their crowdfunding-financed products to their sponsors. Today, the crowdfunding platform is introducing four new badges that will appear in some of these Hardware Studio projects, particularly those that are part of the studio's connection program, which is more competitive for acceptance, but provides additional tools, such as a planner of product to help keep track of materials and office hours with engineers.
The badges should give the sponsors a clear idea of where the product was in development before the launch of their Kickstarter campaign. There are four levels, in order of least prepared for the majority:
- Committed: the sponsors have been accepted into Connection and have a prototype proof of concept in operation. The team "understands the challenges and is realistic about project deadlines and costs."
- Ready Level 1: the project has a "mature" prototype that could become a manufactured product. It's on track for launch, but it's still in the prototype phase, and some user tests have been completed. The product can also be produced at the target cost.
- Ready Level 2: the product can be manufactured at its expected volume, and production plans are in place. Kickstarter financing is only necessary to purchase production tools and materials and to certify the product. It has also been subjected to user tests and has been updated to reflect the comments.
- Level 3 ready: the product is completely ready for manufacturing and the delivery risks are low. Kickstarter financing is only necessary for manufacturing.
Kickstarter does not guarantee that projects will eventually be dispatched, but at least it is trying to give sponsors an idea of what to expect. The badge is a good step to prevent people from losing their money in a nefarious idea.