May 2013

Asia, Blog

DISCUSSION 15 Comments

Driving (away from) China and The Silk Road

If I’ve been doing a good job at promoting it, you know that we’ve been trying to raise money through Kickstarter to write a book about traversing China and the Silk Road in Nacho. We were attempting to raise $25,602 to cover the cost of permission to enter China twice with a government-approved guide. After thirty days of fundraising, you all pledged a grand total of $13,174, or 51% of our goal. To all of you who supported us, we can’t thank you enough for your generosity and your votes of confidence. Truly, we have been humbled.

The way that project funding through Kickstarter works is this: if we were to have reached our full project goal, we would have gotten the money to carry out our project. If not, as is the case here, all of the money is returned to the donors.

Being that we were unable to raise the full amount to enter China, all donors will keep their money and we’ll revert to our original plan. Rather than driving through Laos and into China (the first leg of our two-legged Chinese crossing plan), we’ll enter Laos and then drive South into Cambodia, and then back into Thailand. We will then proceed to ship Nacho to India.

This still leaves the question of what we’ll do after India. If we are to drive out of India, it has to be either Pakistan-Iran-Turkey, or Nepal-China-Kyrgyzstan. The former will be logistically tricky and politically restrictive if not altogether impossible, while the second – a Chinese crossing – would still be prohibitively expensive. We think we could cut a couple thousand dollars off of the ,000 quote we received by spending less time in China and keeping the purse strings tight, but it’s still not in the budget. We’ll keep an open mind and hopefully it’ll work out in some way. If neither of these work, there’s always the shipping option.

So what will we do after India? Who knows. But whatever happens, there’s no doubt that it will be anadventure.

Now that this effort is behind us, I thought it might be interesting to break down the Kickstarter project data and show you how it all went down. Call it a debriefing.

When we first launched the project, we saw a huge outpouring of support from our readers as we promoted it on our blog and on our Facebook page.  In fact, we reached 22% of our goal in the first three days. Throughout the month, our project received referrals from Garmin, Adventure JournalGSI Outdoors, BBC Travel, AutoblogExpedition Portal, Flagstaff Live, and others.

In the end, we saw pledges from $1 to $1,000, while the $25 reward level was the most popular pledge. Interestingly (to me, as an engineer) the distribution of pledges as seen in the following chart can be described using a Weibull probability density function. This function is used by engineers to conduct failure analysis. Coincidence?

For now we push on, we drive the subcontinent and the Himalayas, we eat lots of good food, and we keep Nacho in tip top shape. Only one thing is clear: we have no idea what we’re going to do next. I guess that’s why they call it “adventure”.

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