The Passion Planner Kickstarter blew past its goal of $10k, raising a total of $658,000. The project is conceived/run by 24-year old Angelia Trinidad.
Crowdfunding campaigns for physical products present special challenges, and ending up massively over-funded creates its own set of challenges.
I'm curious how Angelia will handle this, particularly since she's made some moves after the campaign closed that raised my eyebrows.
For starters, kudos to her for getting out there and doing this. She clearly had a great idea, and to all appearances has so far flourished rather than withered in the face of supporting and responding to an astounding 23,000 backers.
In her 2nd update, with $465k already raised and 13 days to go, she explained some of the steps she was already taking:
- Hiring an accountant
- Hiring an attorney
- Handling the legal issues of switching from a sole proprietorship to a LLC [...]
- Looking into possibly leasing a warehouse space to operate Passion Planner out of (I've been operating out of my parent's garage for the past year)...
Excerpt from the 3rd update:
- Working with my accountant to get everything in order for the next tax cycle
- Getting all of the legal paperwork filled out with my attorney to complete the establishment of Passion Planner LLC
- Communicating with a Certified Financial Analyst to see what our best next steps would be
- Hiring a real estate agent to find a warehouse space in San Diego
Warehouse hunting! Last week, we found a real estate agent and have spent the past couple of days looking at properties, playing around with layouts and discussing our options. We walked into one warehouse and I pretty much fell in love. It looked like a dream studio for a sculptor, a huge wide open spaces, super high ceilings, two offices, a nice (but practical) bathroom, a roll up loading dock door… the works! We plan on placing an offer on a property soon!
I'm trying to explain the sense of vague unease I've gotten from the updates. I'm not concerned from an ethics standpoint, and I'm not questioning anyone's motives.
And hey, it's a planner for my wife and I to use. I pledged $41. This isn't a big deal in the scheme of things.
It's just that the info and the tone raised enough question marks that made me wonder if there are rocks ahead for this whole endeavour.
First, there's a disconnect that Angelia herself probably doesn't see.
The Kickstarter promises "The money will be solely used in the first large scale production of Passion Planner Compact, including manufacturing and shipping."
Hiring accountants and lawyers, and purchasing real estate is not production and fulfillment; that's investing in business machinery: setting up a corporate engine that can keep churning out and selling future products.
It's possible that all of this corporate scaffolding is being provided for out of other resources Angelia has access to (past profits, family, lines of credit etc), and that would be ideal.
The impression one gets, however, is of a wide-eyed 24-year old happily giving every breathless indication she can think of that the project is growing up into a real legit business, things are being handled "right", etc.
It's entirely possible that, having raised 65x more than she was originally shooting for, she's able to increase her margin by enough to make an offer on a warehouse and hire employees. In which case, great?
Is that likely? I'll be the first to admit I don't even know. It seems unlikely.
The warehouse thing was what actually triggered my jotting all this down:
We walked into one warehouse and I pretty much fell in love. It looked like a dream studio for a sculptor, a huge wide open spaces, super high ceilings, two offices, a nice (but practical) bathroom, a roll up loading dock door… the works! We plan on placing an offer on a property soon!
"Falling in love with" and "placing an offer" sure sounds a lot like real estate ownership. Not leasing or renting, but purchasing. Which I think I'm safe to say, seems like a nearly insane thing to do after a Kickstarter.
Again, not a lot of info here, and not like we're owed this info. Maybe the agent they "hired" is actually making a lease offer. But it sure isn't being described that way.
Well, the latest update clears a lot of things up for us. It turns out that Angelia is just a really really rich kid.
From update #8:
I hope it goes without saying that I really care about all of you in the Passion Planner community and that I always do my very best in everything that has to do with Passion Planner. Handling this unexpected port strike situation is no exception.
I want you all to have them as soon as possible, and am putting my money where my mouth is. I have decided to spend $178,565.00 of my own money to get the whole second order of 80,000 planners flown in by plane so we can get these to you by the end of January.
If you have $178k to throw at an unexpected hitch in your crowd funded project, you are basically someone who has way more money than you know what to do with.
This explains the warehouse, the lawyers, the accountants, and (let's be honest) the unrelenting optimism about following your passions.