Accountability on Jumpstarter

By Jumpstarter

When a Jumpstarter campaign fails, does anyone get their money back?” We would like to answer the question to what would happen if a Jumpstarter project failed to follow through on its promises. This raises a number of questions about accountability on Jumpstarter, and we want to talk directly about it.

Since Jumpstarter’s launch in February of 2015, many projects have been successfully funded by different groups of people. These projects include documentaries, albums, art, products, performances, drinks, and much more. The number of creative projects that have been funded and produced on Jumpstarter in the past few months is great. Many could not exist otherwise.

But of course not every project goes perfectly. Delays do occur, especially with more complicated projects. Some creators get in over their heads dealing with processes that are new to them.

We take accountability very seriously at Jumpstarter, and the questions raised by users are important ones. We’ve addressed a lot of these questions through the press and in various places on the site, and today we want to go over how accountability works on Jumpstarter. We’ve also added the questions below to our FAQ.

Does Jumpstarter screen projects before they launch?

Yes, but only a quick review to make sure they meet our Project Guidelines. Jumpstarter does not investigate a creator’s ability to complete their project. Backers ultimately decide the validity and worthiness of a project by whether they decide to fund it.

Who is responsible for completing a project as promised?

It’s the Project Creator’s responsibility to complete their project. Jumpstarter is not involved in the development of the projects themselves.

What should creators do if they’re having problems completing their project?

If problems come up, creators are expected to post a Project Update (which is emailed to all backers) explaining the situation. Sharing the story, speed bumps and all, is crucial. Most backers support projects because they want to see something happen and they’d like to be a part of it. Creators who are honest and transparent will usually find backers to be understanding.

It’s not uncommon for things to take longer than expected. Sometimes the execution of the project proves more difficult than the creator had anticipated. If a creator is making a good faith effort to complete their project and is transparent about it, backers should do their best to be patient and understanding while demanding continued accountability from the creator.

If the problems are severe enough that the creator can’t fulfill their project, creators need to find a resolution. Steps could include offering refunds, detailing exactly how funds were used, and other actions to satisfy backers.

Is a creator legally obligated to fulfill the promises of their project?

Yes. Jumpstarter’s Terms of Use require creators to fulfill all rewards of their project or refund any backer whose reward they do not or cannot fulfill. (This is what creators see before they launch.) We crafted these terms to create a legal requirement for creators to follow through on their projects, and to give backers a recourse if they don’t. We hope that backers will consider using this provision only in cases where they feel that a creator has not made a good faith effort to complete the project and fulfill.

Can Jumpstarter refund the money if a project is unable to fulfill?

No. Jumpstarter doesn’t issue refunds, as transactions are between Donators and Creators, and the Project Creators receive all funds (after fees) soon after their campaign ends.

If a campaign is NOT 100% funded by end date, the Project Donators receive a credit to use for donations with other chosen Jumpstarter Crowdfunding projects.

Why can’t Jumpstarter guarantee projects?

We started Jumpstarter as a new way for creators and audiences to work together to make things. The traditional funding systems are risk-averse and profit-focused, and tons of great ideas never get a chance as a result. We thought Jumpstarter could open the door to a much wider variety of ideas and allow everyone to decide what they wanted to see exist in the world. Jumpstarter is full of ambitious, innovative, and imaginative ideas that aren’t possible anywhere else.

The pursuit of these projects with a guarantee doesn’t work. A Jumpstarter where every project is guaranteed would be the same safe bets and retreads we see everywhere else. The fact that Jumpstarter allows creators to take risks and attempt to create something ambitious is a feature, not a bug.

What is Jumpstarter doing about fulfillment?

As Jumpstarter has grown, we’ve made changes to improve accountability and fulfillment.

We’ve added additional guidelines and requirements for Design and Technology projects. These include requiring creators to provide information about their background and experience, a manufacturing plan (for hardware projects), and a functional prototype. We made this change to ensure that creators have done their research before launching and backers have sufficient information when deciding whether to back these projects.

We’ve also allocated more awareness to trust and safety. We look into projects reported by our community for guidelines violations and suspicious activity, and we take action when necessary. These efforts are focused on fraud and acceptable uses of Jumpstarter, not a creator’s ability to complete a project and fulfill. On Jumpstarter, people ultimately decide the validity and worthiness of a project by whether they decide to fund it.

2 Comments

    • Jumpstarter

      Hi Isaac, project creators are drawn to Jumpstarter due to their financial constraints. Retaining legal counsel for guidance on potential IP issues before launching a Jumpstarter project may not be high on the priority list. However, innovators and creators looking to draw on Jumpstarter’s successes should be wary of investing time and money into launching a project on Jumpstarter without first considering the various risks and pitfalls related to IP. Careful consideration of IP issues may help project creators prevent the loss of any IP rights related to their projects and may insulate them from any third-party IP claims that could threaten the success of their projects.

      Patents: The Perks of Being a Wallflower While Unpatented.

      In order to create a convincing pitch, project creators must disclose enough information about their project on their Jumpstarter campaign page to convince potential backers that the idea is worthy of funding. However, revealing sufficient detail about an invention to attract backers exposes a creator to risks that may jeopardize the patentability of the invention.

      Disqualifying Disclosures.

      Unlike making a pitch to traditional investors, where non-disclosure agreements (“NDA”) can prevent the disclosure of sensitive and confidential information about a project, the nature of the Jumpstarter platform requires disclosure of information up front to the public without the protection of an NDA. Generally speaking, public disclosure of the patentable subject matter of an invention, prior to the filing of a patent application, may disqualify the invention from patent protection.

      Even where the information disclosed on the Jumpstarter campaign page does not constitute an “enabling disclosure”, the inventor must also be cautious of any sales to, or use by, the public of a product embodying the invention, which may also constitute an “enabling disclosure”.

Leave a Reply