The Crowd Supply Guide: Why Open Source?

Why Open Source your Project?

We strongly recommend you make your project open source (hardware and software). Combining open source with crowdfunding has many advantages. The benefits include:

Why Not?

At this point, some creators might be saying "hold on, surely there are downsides to making a project open?". That’s true, but they may not be what you think they are. These are the most common misconceptions we hear about going open source:

Won’t my idea get stolen?

The answer is almost certainly not. For starters, ideas are generally easy to come up with; what gives an idea value is the time and effort put into implementing it. Developing, manufacturing, and marketing a project is a non-trivial task. And once you’ve established market dominance, it matters far less what others try to do with your concepts. We should add that after working with hundreds of creators, we have never gotten any report of an idea from a Crowd Supply project getting stolen. (There is one single, notable exception to this, Circuit Stickers. We recommend reading both what happened to the creator and this subsequent analysis of the situation by a patent attorney.)

Open Source is a time-wasting hassle

While it’s true that building a community of contributors requires time up front, with any crowdfunded project, you need to spend time building a following anyway. With open source, your community can potentially become more than a revenue source, it’s also your source for troubleshooting, help with coding, designing, and testing, and cheerleading (don’t underestimate the value of this).

Open Source results in lower quality

This simply isn’t true. Like anything manufactured, there are high quality and low quality open source projects. But there is nothing inherent to open source that makes it produce low quality projects. In fact, if you build a product that respects its users, they will respect your product, and that can be the seed that germinates your community. With strong leadership making consequential decisions, that community can grow to produce very high quality products.

In the end, of course, it’s up to you whether or not to open source some or all of your project. But we strongly encourage you to do it. In our experience, it’s the best way to make a good project, great.

More Reading

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The Crowd Supply Guide: Table of Contents

For Everyone

For Backers

For Creators

Getting Started

Before Your Campaign Launches

During Your Campaign

After Your Campaign Concludes

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