A New Crowdfunding Platform Emerges

By | Wednesday, January 26, 2022 Leave a Comment
Well, I'm not seeing this on any of the usual comics news sites yet, so I'll mention here that TopatoCo has just lauched a new crowdfunding platform called TopatoGO. I'll throw out their press release first...
TopatoCo now offers complete project services, from project planning to funding to fulfillment.

EASTHAMPTON, MASSACHUSETTS - TopatoCo, an artist-forward online marketplace, has launched a full-service crowdfunding platform, TopatoGO, to help independent artists and makers turn their ideas into tangible products. Clients will have streamlined access to project planning assistance, campaign management, fundraising abilities, and shipping services — all under one roof.

TopatoCo is no stranger to the crowdfunding world, having launched its sister company Make That Thing! in 2013. After more than 30 campaigns and $3.5 million dollars raised, Make That Thing was absorbed by TopatoCo in 2020 in preparation for the extended services that TopatoGO will provide, including;

  • Campaign consultation, including goal calculation and budgeting
  • Backer/Customer service
  • Backers’ choices of payment options
  • Lower cumulative fees for creators
  • Ability for creators to offer “add-on” items post-campaign
  • Global shipping services at negotiated lower rates
"We've been doing this long enough that we figure it's time to cut out the middleman and make it easier on everyone involved by doing it all ourselves," says TopatoCo founder and CEO Jeffrey Rowland. "Over the years we've shipped hundreds of thousands of things and we're pretty good at it. We have great people working every day and two warehouses, several dozen computers, a van, and a forklift. We have so many rolls of those "fragile" stickers. By shifting our crowdfunding and fulfillment totally in-house, it will allow us to make better deals for creators, streamline our internal processes, invest more into our community, and help the environment by not using blockchain for some reason."

The first projects launching under TopatoGO are a plush toy of the TopatoCo mascot, Topato Potato (a surly, poisonous superhero space potato who feeds on marketing) and the third print volume of the popular webcomic Back by KC Green and Anthony Clark. Submissions for future campaigns will be taken for consideration..

“I’ve seen the way these folks work their butts off getting the darn thing done! Now with the middleman out of the picture I can only imagine the insane lack of butts everyone at TopatoGO will achieve!” - World's Greatest Cartoonist KC Green
Since Kickstarter announced in December that they'd be diving into NFTs, comics creators have been trying to figure out how/where to raise money for future projects. While there are other existing platforms like IndieGoGo out there, all of them have various problems/drawbacks that many creators aren't happy or comfortable with. I suspect this is primarily what prompted TopataCo to pull the trigger on this when they did. It would seem from their press release that it was an option they had given at least some consideration previously, but Kickstarter's announcement was likely the impetus for them to get into the market quickly.

TopatoCo has been a stalwart of the webcomic community for well over a decade now, and they have an excellent track record selling and delivering books, t-shirts, plushies, and all the other doodads they have available. They're the place to get official "This is fine" stuff. Somewhat significantly, they were quickly endorsed by Spike Trotman.
TopatoCo has a long history of supporting comic creators. That will certainly be carried over with TopatoGO and, unlike previous crowdfunding platforms, this one is geared primarily for webcomics. I expect they'll do well with this, and will see a number of creators slide over from Kickstarter. For what it's worth, I've thrown my support behind them already and signed up for their first project, a plush Topato Potato. It's "guaranteed to contain a non-lethal amount of poison!"
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