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How close does my prototype need to be for Kickstarter?

Earlier in the days of crowdfunding there were a lot of problems with delivered projects being FAR off from what was promised.  This led to the addition of some regulations on Kickstarter, such as that you must show physical product samples in your video and NOT 3D renderings.

This is something they take seriously.  I was working with one of my clients on their Kickstarter project and we included a mix of physical product footage and 3D renderings in their video.  We used the 3D footage to make the product spin, open-close, etc. without a hand in the way, and the video was rejected by Kickstarter even though we showed physical samples in the same video.  The solution was to add an on-screen callout every time a 3D rendering was used, just to make it clear to the viewer.

So, yes, you need a real, physical sample of your product in hand.  No substitutes.

That said, how close does your prototype need to be to actual?  For your own sake, the closer to final a product is, the less you will need to Photoshop every. Single. Image. Of. It.

If part of your product’s appeal is its aesthetics (like a bag), then the aesthetics of your proto and your final production need to match closely.  If your product is more function-oriented, it needs to work as demonstrated.

Think of it as you would ordering from a catalog – if the product you see in the catalog (your proto) is different from what you receive, that’s a no-go.

Minor changes can be made even AFTER a campaign has started (or ended), so determining what qualifies as “minor” is important.  

Did you find out that you only need 4 screws instead of 8 to hold your widget together?  That’s probably minor.  

Did you find out that you can’t get the light blue-grey zippers for the inside of your bag, but you can get the slightly lighter blue-grey zippers?  That’s probably minor.

Do you want to remove all the padding from your bag to cut costs?  Not minor.

Keep in mind that you may be the best judge about whether a change is minor or not, but you are not the only judge.  You can call out differences between what is shown and what will be delivered before you launch the campaign, and you can even call out differences during the campaign (as long as you send an update).  Backers have the opportunity to change or cancel their pledge.

But making anything but a minor change AFTER the campaign… yeesh, that can be a problem.  Do your homework so it doesn’t happen.