Two years ago, a man named Ed Carter opened up the Kickstarter campaign that would eventually result in the foreclosure of his house.
That wasn’t supposed to happen, of course. Carter started the Kickstarter campaign so that he could expand on a hobby. He was a board game maker, operating under the moniker of the Cambridge Games Factory, which specialized in building and distributing cheaply-produced board games. In August 2011, he logged onto Kickstarter and created “Glory to Rome << Black Box Edition >>,” a deluxe version of one of his company’s many popular games.
“Rome demands beauty,” he wrote. “Re-imagined with breathtaking elegance and top quality production.”
Carter originally set out to raise $21,000. When funding closed 22 days later, 1,600 people had donated more than $73,000.
This is where things started to fall apart for Ed Carter.
Carter had set up production with a Chinese producer, something he could do because his company’s head of operations spoke the language and because he was dating a girl from the Far East country. But then his director of operations quit and his relationship with his girlfriend fizzled, and Carter was left with a business deal in China that he couldn’t properly manage.
Small mistakes resulted in weighty consequences. He neglected to put “Fragile” labels on game boxes, started spending too much money on shipping. Before long, Staples, the company that offered him part-time employment as a contractor, started making cuts, leaving Carter without a job. His saving dwindled. He started losing all his money to the game, eventually finding himself more than $100,000 in the hole.
Strapped and without many options, Carter stopped making the mortgage payments on a second house he owned outside Boston. It didn’t take long for the banks to foreclose on it. Carter, all the while, had still not managed to actually distribute any amount of his deluxe edition board games.
What’s worse: his backers started getting angry. They thought that he was lying, or, if he wasn’t, that he didn’t deserve any sympathy for the fate that he’d suffered. In response to an update Carter provided last year about the foreclosure of his house, one backer wrote that he should “fuck off with [his] guilt trip.”
“As someone who has sat [quiet], my only crime is donating money to get this project off the ground. I see no reason why you should blame us for your downfall. Most of this update was unnecessary and I’m done with this company.”
More than a year has since passed, and Carter’s begun to pick up the pieces. He has a new job, money coming in, and recently, he managed to distribute all the games to those who made a donation to his campaign.
“At this point I’m pretty sure that—with a little grace—I’m not actually going to have to declare bankruptcy,” he wrote in a May update. “My house is gone (either through short-sale or foreclosure) but I guess I wasn’t really using it anymore.”
“It’s interesting how entirely alien the same situation can appear from different perspectives. I have no doubt that 99.9% of the people reading this, if they have been following enough to care, are entirely convinced that this mess happened because I didn’t pay enough attention to the Kickstarter program and games company … It doesn’t really matter anymore. You guys (and girls) – mostly – got your games. I lost my house. In any ‘rational’ handling of this situation I would have picked a different course and those facts were reversed but that’s not how I run my life, or my business.”
Photo via Ed Carter/Facebook