Do I Pledge? The #Kickstarter Algorithm – Part 1.

A bit of background

I alluded to the idea of a weighted algorithm in June and the potential of the “Sugar Supper Club“.  I’m sorry to say that they didn’t get the amount of money they were looking for. There were some pointers that suggested they weren’t going to make it.

Hopefully they’ll be carrying on regardless, it was a great idea but the addressable market didn’t stack up for crowd funding in my opinion.


Some variables

First we need some variables and I’ve picked five that I think are important to get a result.  I’m using Garth Sundem’s method of finding variables that you care about.

1. What’s the addressable market?

The most important piece of advice given to me by Timothy**. Possibly the most important variable to know. Is this a mass market idea that will appeal to lots of people?

Range: 1 (very niche) to 10 (I’m buying it for my neighbour, granny and aunt Flo).

2. Is there good press coverage?

Is the project being covered by the press. The NFC Ring is a good example of this, covered by Wired, Fast Company and a host of blogs. Guess what readers all came with their credit cards ready.

Range: 1 (no coverage) to 10 (sick of reading about it, here are my card details)

3. The amount required, is it reasonable and justified. 

The initial ask is important. Too little and it may not convince the community it’s a project worth backing, too much and it may seem totally out of reach.

Range: 1 (way out of reach) to 10 (that’s do-able)

4. Longevity of the product.

Is this thing going give a lifetime of fun, productivity or brain scratching game play? Is it all going to be over in less than two minutes?

Range: 1 (oh dear, what a disappointment) to 10 (just outlived the Duracell bunny)

5. Funkiness

A funky idea. The 3Doodler Pen was funky. Men’s bra’s weren’t.

Range: 1 (Sans funk) to 10 (Chic (w/Bernard Edwards, the real 70’s stuff)

Developing an algorithm

We now have our variables. Next thing is to throws some sums at it and see what sticks.  This is where you get to experiment (or as I professionally call it, messing about).

I came up with this as a test algorithm, I’ll be refining it in future posts, I mean I didn’t take Twitter retweets into account.

So I came up with this in R:

ranking <- function(addressableMarket, pressCoverage, funkyRating, longevity, amountRequired) {
 return (100 * 
 ((((addressableMarket * ((pressCoverage/10) + 1 )) 
 * amountRequired)
 /sqrt(8 * (longevity/funkyRating))/100)))

Now this looks insanely cool as it is. The addressable market multiplied by the press coverage (1.2, 1.3 etc) multiplied by the amount required. This is then divided against 8 (hours for funky use) multiplied by longevity divided by funkiness. We get the square root of that last figure divided by 100. (reading the R function is actually easier than me explaining it oddly enough)

The nice thing about this is that we can tweak it as time goes on. And this I will be doing.

Testing your creation

For testing I’m looking for the highest number I can get. You can easily test the ranges in R by running the following:

> source("kick.r")
> ranking(1,1,1,1,1) 
[1] 0.3889087 
> ranking(10,10,10,10,10) 
[1] 70.71068

So a range bewteen 0.3 to 70.0, anything about 40% (28.0 or above) is worth investigating properly and doing some more research on.


For those that don’t know Brewbot is a large device for brewing beer, iPhone controlled too.


So to my untrained eye I assign what I think are some reasonable figures to apply to my algorithm.

Addressable market I’m giving 5, it’s not uber niche bit neither is it going to be in every home. The press coverage I’m giving 8 as they’ve had some impressive coverage in the tech press and beyond. They’re being noticed and that’s a positive indicator. Funky rating is a 7, it’s funky. Longevity, well it’s not a flash in the pan but will designer led brewing be fashionable in a couple of years time, dunno? So I’ll give it 4. Lastly the amount required is achievable while it is a lot I think there’s an audience out there who’ll also fund. So, 8.

A quick run through in R and we get…..

> brewbot 
[1] 33.67492

Well it’s a positive, it’s about our target 28 points. So far so good.

See Sense

Another Belfast project is See Sense which is a powerful bike light system providing intelligent illumination where it’s required.


Looking at our variables I’m going to rank them like so:

Addressable Market: 7, Press Coverage 1, Funkiness 9, Longevity 9, Amount Required 9

> cycle<-ranking(7,1,9,9,9) 
> cycle 
[1] 24.50125

Okay, it looks like the lack of press coverage has pulled the rating down. It’s not the end of the world but it may affect crowd funders ability to find the project.

In an idea world you’d be funding both projects as they’re both great.

Next time…..

The next time we’re going to tighten this algorithm up a bit and put some weighting behind certain variables.

** – Timothy knows a thing or two about shoe sizes too.



2 responses to “Do I Pledge? The #Kickstarter Algorithm – Part 1.”

  1. I feel these variables lean towards large, mass market products. There are many very niche products that are not “funky” and will never see the light of day on Wired but can still be very successful. Granted you won’t rake in a million dollars but $50k, $10k or even $5000 may be very good for what you are trying to accomplish.

    My Kickstarter is a niche book called “Dataflow & Reactive Programming Systems” ( I don’t expect to make more than $10k on Kickstarter with it. Publishers typically give writers a small advance to live on while writing the book and then you get a small share of the sales once published. As an indie publisher, I can test the market with Kickstarter and if it is successful, I’ll get a much larger cut of the final book price after published. So, for my situation, my small Kickstarter has been very profitable.

  2. Matt,

    Thanks for your comment and what you say is very valid. What I’ll move on to next is weighting those (and more) variables for exactly those reasons. Funky (I couldn’t think of a better term in all honesty!) is a bit of a strange one I agree with you so the weighting would need to shift in terms of does the project’s quirkiness influence the funding? Perhaps or perhaps not.

    So iteration one of a very ropey algorithm sorta works, I did say it will need work. With so many categories of Kickstarter project the weightings do become very important. Unless I’m really into dark theatre with a vampire twist there’s very slim chance of me pledging, I’ll never see it as it’s not coming to my town.

    It’s great to hear about your book and in a field such as this then you’ve picked the right platform at the right time. Good luck with it.


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