Over the two-plus years I’ve been developing the PLIQO garment bag, I’ve shown prototypes to literally hundreds of people, looking for feedback, good or otherwise.

One question that has come up consistently is: why don’t you try crowdfunding the project? In particular, I’ve been recommended Kickstarter – the largest and best known platform for the ‘reward’ model of crowdfunding.

And now I am. After all, it’s an innovaitve product. Putting into words just how it works is complicated – so making an explanatory video to demonstrate just how the PLIQO bag works was a logical place to start. And with that, you have the core of the critically important crowdfunding video pitch.

Also, the bag itself makes the perfect ‘reward’ for people looking to pledge – neither too cheap, nor too expensive to be attractive to the typical campaign backer.

The campaign will start on 10th May (5/10) – a sneak preview of the campaign video is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSPgyosJFFA

For people who are not on top of the crowdfunding game, there are two main reasons for reward crowdfunding. First and most obviously the finance – and the guaranteed flow of orders from backers (assuming you meet your target).

At PLIQO, the aim is to raise enough finance to manufacture at least 350 of the folding garment bags.

Second, there’s the publicity, or positive exposure you can get for your idea if it ‘goes viral.’ Really popular campaigns not only get specially promoted by Kickstarter itself, they can win nationwide media coverage.

So what’s not to like?

While it looks like a no-brainer, crowdfunding isn’t – and perhaps has never been – as easy as it sounds.

There are plenty of really great blogs out there about how to execute a successful crowdfunding campaing, so I’m only going to highlight on one thing that I’ve found while planning the PLIQO campaign.

This problem, I think, lies in the very success of the crowdfunding movement, and what you might subsequently call its ‘industrialization’.

When I last checked, over 120,00 campaigns had successfully raised nearly US$ 3 billion on Kickstarter alone. That’s about the same as the annual GDP of a small African country like Gambia.

So you can figure that there are a huge number of projects going on – even in the fairly niche area of travel bags. And getting eyeballs to a new campaign is therefore a huge challenge.

This large and growing volume of crowdfudning projects has in turn has spawned an industry of crowdfunding ‘marketing services’, which offer to help make your project stand out from the crowd (no pun intended) – albeit at a price. During my internet-based research, I’ve uncovered dozens of these, each with their own slightly different ‘secret sauce’ to get your project noticed.

While this isn’t necessarily a problem, it did make me think:

Has something happened to the ‘indie’ spirit (that presumably lies behind the naming of Indiegogo – a smaller rival of Kickstarter) of the early crowdfunding movement? Is this ethos in danger of being diluted as the need to ‘pay to play’ becomes the norm?

A quick look through some of the most successful campaigns (in terms of the percentage they overfund their initial target) suggests many are not launched by start-ups in the real sense of the words – but by well-established, financially secure organisations using crowdfunding to road-test new ideas.

If the idea doesn’t fly, the promoters can walks away from the idea, and float another.

Where’s the passion and commitment in all that?

And despite having what I truly believe is an original and highly regarded (if slightly niche) product – I wonder how small, first time campaigns (like mine) will ever get a look in without pre-investing in serious ‘marketing support’.

I guess I’ll be able to answer this in a couple of months from now, when the campaign ends on 8th June.

In the meantime, wish me luck!