Project image
pledged of $200,000pledged of $200,000 goal
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Mon, August 5 2013 9:00 PM UTC +00:00
pledged of $200,000pledged of $200,000 goal
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Mon, August 5 2013 9:00 PM UTC +00:00

Crowdfunding University Research

Posted by Benjamin Longmier, Ph.D. (Creator)

The CAT Kickstarter campaign is the first crowdfunding campaign for a research project at the University of Michigan and the university has been really supportive. University research doesn't have to happen in a black box, especially where there are so many cool projects that captivate people's imaginations like new possibilities for interplanetary exploration!  The CAT team and the University think that crowdfunding is a great way to get the public involved in science and cutting edge research.  What do you think?


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    1. Missing avatar

      schaep on

      Wow people really have lots of good tips for a second chance :).
      - Make a 200k tier: your own personal cubesat with your name on it, send whereever you want to taking pictures of everything within range on its trip. Lots of biljonairs in the world willing to have some fun with that.

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      Christopher Casper on

      Dr. Longmier, I hope you relaunch the project. With some tweaks I think you could raise the money you need. My two bits to add on to the earlier suggestions:

      - Run the project during the school year. UofM has almost 9000 grad/undergrad students in the engineering school alone and over 43K across all disciplines. I realize that summer has fewer distractions/commitments, but your core market isn't paying attention.

      - Recruit help from the UofM chapter of SEDS and the engineering societies to work the promotion of the project. Channeling the energy of students would reduce the workload on the CAT team.

      - Create awards that appeal to UofM students (T-shirts with a Wolverine riding on the CAT?) and tweak the $50 and higher awards to shift donations higher.

      - On the day of launch have your student recruits (wearing the Wolverine/CAT t-shirts) blitz the campus to promote the KS project, get coverage from the campus newspaper, and the press in Ann Arbor. And with 500K people in the alumni network, if there's a way to reach out to them...

      - For the Kickstarter community break the goals down a little more to $50K/$100K/$200K/etc. The CAT project could hit $50K within the first few days which would build the excitement and encourage fence-sitters to commit to a project that will definitely happen.

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      daniela on

      I realize response was underwhelming but crowdfunding without adequate rewards worldwide is doomed. To be more specific, 35$ for a patch and pen is hard to justify. And donating serious money from outside USA has no adequate rewards. Can the USA alone support this project's crowdfunding? Maybe, but then again, maybe not. This time it's not looking good.

      It seems to me you should consider setting up global logistics (and charge a global shipping fee to everyone, regardless of where they live) and it seems to me you should also make CubeSATS ITAR-free. That way you can offer serious rewards to serious donors, such as blueprints, assembled CubeSATS and even flight-qualified CubeSATS.

    4. Gavin Lee on

      I also think it's a valid funding approach. I really like the idea of this programme, watching the satellite slowly increase in altitude bit by bit. Impressive that 0.2kg could shift 5kg to geostationary too.
      It's inevitable that that many people expect something of value on kickstarter but there is a lot of altruism too.
      I hope you run this again. Lots of lessons to be learnt I'm sure but you have a fan base of 1,200 people. As has been said early momentum is so important, but also so is the big hitters, the large value sponsors. The Arkyd project was successful but much value came from the top tier.
      See here
      Missing off the #Space #Science tags was an oversight.

      I wish you all the best with what you decide - I'll be a backer for sure.

    5. Loring Manley on

      I think crowd funding is a valid approach especially for an open source sort of project.
      Perhaps you could setup a longer funding period? Maybe take advantage of more connection to social media? Maybe a funding approach that let's you collect the funds even if the project isn't 100% funded? Possibly you could break the project into smaller phases?

    6. Justin Sean Johnson on

      This one doesn't look good, for this time. At least next time you do your KS, you'll have 1,000+ people you know are willing to support you to give you early momentum. Early momentum is important to help get your project featured on KS to reach a broader audience, as far as what I've been told by people who have had successful projects.

    7. Missing avatar

      Rafael Bernal on

      Of course crowdfunding is a great way to fund projects while at the same time awakening the interest of, well, the crowds--us in cutting edge science and technology. Today achieving funding goal looks grim for this beautiful project, but you're opening a door for all university-lead projects. I just hope you come out with another way to revive this same project. Where have our dreams of boldly going to where no one has gone before gone?
      As a crazy thought, given that many other projects have been overfunded, Would there be a way of calling on them to help with this non-profit. scientific project?

    8. Missing avatar


      I am hoping this project will take off successfully .We Wish CAT team our Best!

    9. Adrian Tymes on

      What schaep said. Kickstarters seem to be far more about marketing than actual content. This is a leading cause of why pure engineering Kickstarters, where the Kickstarter itself is managed by people with more experience in engineering than fundraising experience, fail. Assuming this Kickstarter fails but you're going to try again (and you should)...

      If the University of Michigan has been supportive, try asking their fundraising staff if they'd be willing to help put together round 2. Failing that, recruit students and/or professors from business and media schools - say, someone who intends to go into marketing as a career, whipping up the public on behalf of someone else's (for instance, your) bright ideas. This is a skill in itself, just like software engineering or rocket design, and to succeed on Kickstarter you usually need someone specifically trained in that skill.

      Also, plan out the Kickstarter beforehand. Get large-following sites before you start the project. Per Jano's suggestion, The Planetary Society does not seem to be officially aware of this Kickstarter; maybe they would be willing to help plan and execute the next one? (They accomplish their mission of public awareness, which they can cite for further fundraising. You get a successful Kickstarter.)

      Contact them and ask before you start the next one. Whether "them" is marketing folks at the university, The Planetary Society, or whatever similar talent - you need to recruit this kind of help. Pick up the phone or walk over to them. (Email doesn't work as often to open this kind of door. You can try it, but do not use that as an excuse to not do the others.) This can be hard for pure-engineering efforts to do, even though the action itself is physically simple, but you have to do it.

    10. Missing avatar

      Gary Gibson on

      Like another poster, I don't participate in social media, and don't regularly read blogs. I found this project because it was mentioned by the pocket space craft project. I decided to fund this, because I believe that it is an important idea that could help revolutionize space exploration. How is it that more people don't know about it?

    11. Missing avatar

      Jano Mladonicky on

      I found this project on Scientific American website. Is this being advertised on other websites with large following, such as SETI@home or The Planetary Society?

    12. Missing avatar

      Sonia Koval

      There are several Kickstarter projects under the # tag space -- but this isn't one of them. Why not? (I've mentioned this before in a comment.) Might help casual browsers find you. I don't remember how I happened across the project, but I'm not on any social networks, don't make regular visits to science sites, blogs, etc. But I do browse categories & tagged-lists on Kickstarter. I don't think I'm a *complete* oddity!

    13. Missing avatar

      Fred Mendenhall on

      I absolutely agree! Kickstarter has allowed me to fund specifically research worldwide that I deeply care about and that I think matters to our world. In addition, I often learn something about the team and the specific graduate students that are using my funds to accomplish our common goals. I feel that is a huge return on my investment and it makes me feel part of the team making great things happen.

    14. Andrew Swallow on

      These schemes seem able to raise about $40,000 and then run out of steam. This amount will have to be built into the initial planning. Although several have gone a lot larger.

    15. Missing avatar

      schaep on

      I agree. But you'll need to prepare the funding phase better. You'd need content, content and more content. Every day you need to make an update to stay on top of the peoples mind. You need accounts on lots of social sites and comment on related subjects. Have contacts with newssites even before the kickstarter is live, ask them to have their/your story ready. Contact groups / sites about a related subject to cooperate. Getting funding in 30 days is a fulltime 10 people job for 30 days. That needs a big preperation of probably an other 30 days to have a good story everyday. which sites in related interests have a newsletter in which you need / want to be?
      And view my earlier comments about delivering an endresult or intermediate result.