UPDATE (Wednesday, 4 p.m.): According to Little Woodrow's owner Danny Evans, also former owner of Big Woodrow's on Chimney Rock, the man behind the Woodrow's Cypress Kickstarter campaign is not affiliated with the other Woodrow's at all, and he is pursuing legal action against him.
Houston Kickstarter is amazing. I have seen projects happen through the crowdsourcing medium that make me indescribably happy. Whether it's seeing my colleague Abby Koenig get a play off the ground or an old MacVenture video game getting a 21st-century reboot, it warms my heart to know that artists and craftsmen now have a very simple way to connect with their audience and get their projects funded.
That said... some people do not understand the point of Kickstarter and use it with all the grace and subtlety that a monkey wields a fist-sized mass of poo. They generally fall into two separate categories, both equally insulting to the crowdsource ethic.
The first are lunatics. People who have dreams, but have not put anything like real thought into accomplishing them. Instead, they throw ridiculous cash goals out into the Internet and hope that somehow they manage to win another version of the lottery. And like the lottery, they probably won't exactly do great things with their wealth since they're, you know, nutjobs.
Those pale in comparison to the second type of offender, though; people of means who don't want to bother getting loans they'll have to pay back or raising the money the old-fashioned way. You can't blame crazy for being crazy, but lazy and greedy is another matter. We're looking at you, Zach Braff.
Houston is home to some doozies in both camps.
Danny Evans owns all the wonderful Little Woodrow's locations around town, but not the Big Woodrow's folks in the Galleria may be familiar with. Evans sold off that location years ago, and now a former employee named Mark Martinez is attempting to take the Woodrow's name and open a nice little yuppiefied version up in Cypress.
Oh, and he wants $100,000 from folks on Kickstarter to do it. Keep in mind there is already some dispute over whether or not Martinez's right to even use the name Woodrow's; Evans is supposedly seeking legal action over the Kickstarter campaign. In short, Martinez is asking us to invest in the final stages of a project on a forum where people specifically have no real way to get their money back on a failed project while pursing something that might very well not be legal in the first place.
It doesn't boost a lot of confidence for potential investors, that's for sure. Besides that, this isn't what Kickstarter is for. The Woodrow's brand is a successful one. If the company wants to expand again, all it has to do is take out a loan and pick a location. Instead, someone else is using crowdfunds and a local name to try and cash in on the growth around 290.
That's insulting to both traditional entrepreneurship and to community spirit at the same time, which is kind of impressive.
Case in point for the first camp... Woodrow's has been a steady success for two decades with locations all over Texas. They serve Cajun food, host live music, and are just in general a small-business success story. Good for Woodrow's, since they clearly seem to know how to make a go in the bar and restaurant industry.
Which is why the company's asking for $100,000 on Kickstarter to open a location in Cypress is just baffling. Their logic seems to be that all the people who used to visit them in the Galleria area are now moving to the suburbs, and they want to follow.
That's fine, but why in the blue hell should anyone else pay for that? They have plenty of clout and experience opening new locations. They've already built the building. They just want people to help them decorate it, apparently.
Sorry, Woodrow's, finish your damned yuppie version yourselves like everyone else does. As someone on Facebook said, it's not GiveUsMoneyForNoReason.com. Kickstarter for for projects that don't have other avenues. Unless all the other ones you've opened are mirages, that doesn't include you.
More insulting Kickstarters from H-Town on Page 2.
Steve Crawford: On the same page of people that clearly do not need any help is Steve Crawford of Anointed. He and Da'dra Crawford Greathouse have been making award-winning Christian music since 1987. They've got tons of accolades in the genre, been nominated for three Grammys, have one of the top-selling Christian albums of all time in The Call, are part of the Lakewood Church worship team, and are signed to Sony to boot.
Yet this man wants to crowdsource $35,000 for a debut solo outing. Dude, you're on a major label and have the support of one of the mega-ist of megachurches in the world. Lakewood Church shakes more than $35,000 out of the couch cushions, in addition to having plenty of connections to the recording industry. Plus he wants a $15 for a download single. At least Woodrow's will hook you up with five pounds of crawfish at just five bucks more than that.
The Bathroom Philosopher's Daily Guide to Life: Now onto the other side of the coin, raisin cakes. First up is our man Jay Robertson and his book The Bathroom Philosopher's Daily Guide to Life. Let's set aside the fact that the world doesn't needs more toilet-reading based Father's Day gifts for a second, even though it totally does not. No, what really sets Robertson apart is his sales pitch. To quote...
This is a book that I wrote 20 years ago. I had presented it to my mother-in-law at the time; she crushed my dreams of publishing it.
Now it's time!! I've shed the "hater's" worthless verbiage and realize that my high school English teachers words were never truer: I am a writer!!
Robertson goes on to assure us that us not helping him will do further emotional damage to him, like his mother-in-law did. The price of his mental well-being? $4,491 for a book he already says is completed. Oh well, it's nowhere near as bad as...
Blue Elephants: Marsha Johnson has a post-apocalyptic vision where her heroine, research scientist Dr. Sharon Wells, searches for a hidden pharmaceutical plant that holds the key to many of the world's neurological disorders. Along the way she encounters shadowy government figures desperate to control the drug supply. Not bad, right? It's no worse than a Dan Brown novel, surely. How much does Johnson want to make her graphic novel a reality?
$400,000. No, my cat didn't step on the zero key, that's what she wants for a three-volume graphic novel that looks like it was made with screensnaps of Second Life. To compare, that's what we pay Barack Obama every year, and only $100,000 less than the advance he got for writing an abridged version of Dreams of My Father, which was already a bestseller by the then president elect.
Let me tell you a tale.
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Sometime ago I wrote a rock memoir that was my way of closing the door on a band I put a lot of my soul into. I went out and bought some books on shopping to agents, but decided that the easiest thing was to uses Amazon's CreateSpace program to self-publish. The result sold moderately well, some 200 copies or so, which more than made up for the $35 set-up fee I paid to do it. Plus, hey, 200 people bought a book I wrote.
That book inspired Christian Kidd of The Hates to tell his own story, and I advised him to follow in my footsteps. He did so to even greater success than me because he's Christian from the freakin' Hates!
Point is, authors? Get off Kickstarter. David Wong had his book John Dies at the End for free online two years before a publisher bought the rights. The movie is coming out now, by the way. Kickstarter is not a shortcut to the Stephen Kingdom.