Kickstarter launched its Hardware Studio program last year in partnership with Avnet and Dragon Innovation. The idea was to help small teams navigate the world of hardware manufacturing and, ultimately, get them to actually deliver their crowdfunded product to backers. Today, the crowdfunding platform is debuting four new badges that’ll show up on some of these Hardware Studio projects, particularly ones that are part of the studio’s Connection program, which is more competitive for acceptance, but provides additional tools, like a product planner for helping keep track of materials and office hours with engineers.
The badges should give backers a clear idea of where the product was in development prior to its Kickstarter campaign launch. There are four levels, in order of least prepared to most:
- Engaged: the backers have been accepted to Connection and have a working proof-of-concept prototype. The team “understands challenges and is realistic about project timelines and costs.”
- Ready Level 1: the project has a “mature” prototype that could become a manufactured product. It’s on track to launch but still in the prototype phase, and some user testing has been completed. The product can also be produced at the target cost.
- Ready Level 2: the product will be able to be manufactured at its expected volume, and production plans are in place. The Kickstarter funding is only needed to buy production tools and materials and to certify the product. It also has undergone user testing and has been updated to reflect feedback.
- Ready Level 3: the product is fully ready for manufacturing, and delivery risks are low. The Kickstarter funding is only needed for manufacturing.
Kickstarter doesn’t guarantee that projects will eventually ship, but it at least is trying to give backers some idea of what to expect. The badge is a good step toward preventing people from losing their money on an ill-fated idea.