29 January 2018
Recently I was invited to try a new crowdfunding platform (not yet launched as of 1/29/2018) called Breadmaker Games. I don’t use crowdfunding as a product creator anymore, so I politely declined, but I asked Larry–the founder–if he would participate in a no-holds-barred interview. He agreed.
I told Larry up front that I was going to ask some difficult questions. I have a lot of respect for innovators, but I certainly had some major doubts about a creator using anything but Kickstarter, and I wanted to give Larry the chance to address them. I think he did a great job.
The interview–which is edited for clarity and brevity–is below. I mostly dug into information that isn’t readily available on the Breadmaker Games website, so if you want to take a look there before or after this interview, it’ll definitely help.
Can you summarize the key ways you differentiate Breadmaker from other crowdfunding platforms?
- Clear Focus on Tabletop: We’re focused specifically and solely on tabletop games and accessories, which allows us to standardize visual information like player count, theme, etc into the platform.
- Accountability: We’ll vet every project and creator to see if their product is ready.
- Retailer Support: We’ll facilitate pledges from both individual consumers and retailers, with retailers receiving regular notifications with all eligible, active products to make it easier for them to pledge to a variety of projects.
One of the great things about crowdfunding is building community. However, Kickstarter’s comment system leaves much to be desired (i.e., the lack of nested comments), and toxic backers can really sour the community. How does Breadmaker Games approach community?
We recognize that not every decision a maker chooses will be agreeable with everyone, so we’ve enabled a reporting function for those who prove to be exceedingly toxic. We will review comment reports on a case-by-case basis and will message reported users separately regarding course of action. We have no tolerance for hostile or abusive comments that add no value to discussion and will take appropriate actions toward communicating, warning, and suspending accounts if needed.
The commenting system at Breadmaker Games does allow for nested comments so users can keep track of conversations more easily.
On a lighter note, there is also a built in messaging system which allows makers and bakers to communicate back and forth to work out issues or special requests at any point in the campaign.
While I’m intrigued by the idea of Breadmaker ensuring that a game is ready to go to print before the campaign, it doesn’t leave room for backers to have a positive impact on the game. Is there any flexibility there?
This concept is more of a mindset and an approach rather than a process. We will do our best to work with makers to be sure that the necessary components are in place before the campaign is in the oven. But if there are variables that need to be weighed in on by the community, we want to be sure that makers are ready to deliver.
We’ll be conducting phone calls/emails with our makers prior to their campaign launch to find out what their goals are for conducting, implementing, and fulfilling campaign rewards. We’ll attempt to follow up with the particular vendors that makers are planning to use for the main components of their products. The goal is to nearly have some type of purchase order or pre-order for components of their games from each vendor in their supply chain.
This way they’ll be as ready to fulfill their rewards as they can be before their campaign is in the oven. And now during their campaign, they can focus more on community, engagement, and marketing since much of the planning for production and fulfillment has already been done.
Will Breadmaker have built-in systems for stretch goals and add-ons?
Breadmaker Games will have a built-in stretch goal system. This allows makers to specify rewards that will only unlock for viewing once a certain fundraising amount has been hit. These will automatically unlock once the amount has been met.
There is no built-in add-on system at this time.
One of the huge benefits of running a crowdfunding campaign is that it brings a lot of attention to a project that may have otherwise flown under the radar. Kickstarter has accentuated this through their “follow” feature, allowing backers to get alerts for a steady stream of projects that other people are backing. How do you compete with this?
So there are a few points to this question I’d like to make. First about generating buzz. We have your standard sharing tools on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Email, and an RSS feed for the site overall. You can even embed your campaign badge into another website you’re promoting on.
We do also have a “Follow” feature to follow specific makers on their profile page. We are using a third-party email client to send out alerts to a maker’s followers when they have a new campaign in the oven.
I’m really intrigued by the idea of directly engaging retailers, as Kickstarter creators have to find creative ways to bypass the 10-unit pledge maximum. Can you explain it in detail?
The FLGS Whole Grain Program simply enables retailers to pledge for a bulk quantity of a reward while the campaign is in the oven with rights to sell the rewards at MSRP in their stores.
For example: At the beginning of the month, Games4You FLGS receives an email from Breadmaker Games to a link that looks similar to this where they will be able to “lock in” what they would like to pledge.
After the lock-in deadline, Games4You FLGS will receive another email with links to each corresponding campaign’s contribution page where the designated amount will already be filled in for them. All they need to do is pledge the dollar amount. If the campaign is successful, Games4You FLGS receives their bulk orders of pledge rewards along with the other bakers of the campaigns.
I have talked to a few FLGSs in my own area, and they have told me they’d like to be notified of crowdfunded game availability and the ability to sell them to draw more traffic into their stores. They’ve also expressed they don’t want to have to do the work of combing through the site to find them though, which is why we’ve put together this system that operates mostly out of email with a few link clicks for confirmation and payment. I’m confident this will be a valuable system to generate buzz within stores while contributing high dollar pledges to campaigns involved in the program.
Will Breadmaker have a built-in pledge manager system?
If a baker would like to adjust their pledge amounts or reward choices, they are able to visit their profile, cancel their pledge, and re-pledge for their new amount or reward. This is a process we’re working to improve, but upon launch this will be the procedure to adjust your contribution to a campaign.
At this point, we are lacking a robust post-campaign pledge management system as is familiar today. We have been in talks with third-party pledge managers to help integrate something more substantial into our platform, but a more fully-featured system for this will not be available upon launch.
What are some other competitive advantages that Breadmaker faces (especially in comparison to Kickstarter), and for each of them, why do you believe game creators should try out your platform anyway?
Well the elephant in the room, and our biggest hurdle to face, is the amount of traffic Kickstarter generates compared to a startup like Breadmaker Games. Clearly, you do have a higher volume of traffic that hits larger crowdfunding platforms, but the quality of the traffic you’ll see at Breadmaker Games will be much higher. Breadmaker Games will specifically attract the tabletop audience–they won’t be distracted by products in any other category. As such, they’ll convert at a higher rate, and that conversion is likely to stick as a long-term customer as a result of a well-run campaign.
In addition (especially early on), we’ll be actively advertising each of our campaigns that are in the oven. When you’re successful, we’re successful. Because we’re focused on one niche, Tabletop Games, we are involved in our community without having to manage other niche communities as Kickstarter must, and you’ll have our full attention.
How much will you charge creators, and when can creators start to use your platform?
You and your bakers will only be charged if your campaign reaches its funding goal. Fees are 5% of successfully funded dollars + payment processing fees.
If you would like your campaign to be accessible to the members of our FLGS Whole Grain Program, you’ll instead be charged 7% + payment processing fees.
We’re looking to partner with makers pre-launch to have their campaigns in the oven and ready to take the heat of crowdfunding when we go live. Any maker who chooses to launch their campaign with us prior to site launch will have a reduced rate of 3% + payment processing fees. Our platform will be launching toward the end of February 2018.
Huge thanks to Larry for answering these questions! If you have any follow-up questions for him (or any constructively worded feedback), feel free to mention them in the comments.