Can iVerse’s new Kickstarter-killer for Comics Draw a Crowd?

Following this year’s Comic-Con, I rated iVerse Media’s announcement of its Comics Accelerator crowdfunding platform the most potentially exciting digital comics move of the summer. Now according to Todd Allen’s piece at Publishers Weekly, the company is moving forward with more serious trial and deployment.

This should be good news for creators, publishers and ultimately fans. Comics Accelerator’s Kickstarter-killer is a $5,000 cap on the 10% fee the platform takes out of each project. Kickstarter has no cap on fees, which means that a lot of money that funders contribute to high-raising projects goes to Kickstarter rather than the creators.

Comics Accelerator also includes features uniquely helpful to comics publishing rather than general creative projects, such as automated fulfillment and the ability to manage multiple titles. This formalizes the potential of crowdfunding as a way to pre-sell otherwise viable commercial projects, reducing risk and exposure for publishers, in addition to launching pie-in-the-sky creative ventures from individuals. Kickstarter has been straddling both of those roles and seeing its infrastructure and mission strain at the edges as a result. One hopes that, as a fast-follower, iVerse will add some accountability and controls into the crowdfunding model, avoiding the various landmines that Kickstarter’s success has exposed.

iVerse’s biggest challenge is to generate critical mass quickly. Features and a lower fee structure are great, but the point of crowdfunding is to get funded, and that takes a lot of people.

Given that Kickstarter has become synonymous with crowdfunding and been the source of a bunch of high profile mega-successes, that will be a tough nut to crack. Kickstarter is starting to spawn an ecosystem of add-on products and services that add convenience for users without requiring the company itself to make additional investments. Just this Monday, a site called “Things We Start” launched, offering mapping and data visualization to find and track Kickstarters across a variety of parameters. More buzz = more users = more momentum behind their platform = more funders = more projects funded = more users = more third party participation = more buzz and so on.

iVerse understands better than anyone that certain kinds of markets tend to coalesce around a single leader, and how hard it can be to compete once the die is cast. In the crowdfunding space, they are already playing catchup to a world-class sprinter. To succeed, Comics Accelerator needs a couple of big wins fast to start a momentum shift.


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