Problems approving the approval of the approval

It's not dead it's pining for the fjordsDespite a number of sleepless nights and giving up almost all my free time over the last week, we will not be launching our crowdfunding project today. The reasons for this are many and complicated but I will do my best to explain.

The project is ready to go, we have an advert, a video and a load of new blog content aimed at promoting it. I would have liked to have spent a little more time on the video but essentially it was good enough to send off last night. This was in order to coincide with the launch of Kickstarter UK. All we were missing was someone at the University to give us the final authorisation to run this project. Obviously we had already discussed with the higher echelons what we were going to be doing and the feedback we received was highly positive. We even had the legal department give it a quick check and they were optimistic that it could go ahead, pending a more detailed review. Everyone seemed very keen on the project in principle and were happy for us to start planning it and getting all the materials together. However, this is when we hit problem 1.

Universities are responsible for a large number of people and significant public investment. Therefore they have a responsibility to ensure that both the University and the people they employ are protected from accidental misuse of funds or damaging litigation. So any new venture, like this project, is doubled check by our legal department prior to final sign off. When they reported back on the kickstarter terms of use our legal team unfortunately found a problem with one particular bit and wanted us to contact kickstarter.com to discuss the implications. After a week Kickstarter.com eventually replied with the helpful information;

“Thank you for writing in. Please consult the Terms of Use further for any questions you may have.”

Which was not all that helpful. But after a few more e-mails we eventually got a definitive answer and our legal department said they would be happy to go ahead provided the high- ups would agree to this risk. Simple enough to get and I hoped that while we’d wasted a week chasing this problem, approval would just require a simple e-mail. However this approval put on hold because of problem 2.

While we were trying to sort out the legal issues I had been busy drafting our project ready for submission to Kickstarter. I have managed to get almost everything sorted (the video was still pending but would be done before launch) and I uploaded all the details to Kickstarter the only bit left to fill in were our financial details. To post a project on Kickstarter UK you need to be a registered UK company or an individual. In order to prove you are a registered UK company you need a companies house number which, due to Universities’ special tax status we don’t have. Helpfully the form offers no way of getting round this and Kickstarter haven’t exactly been quick to help out in the past, so the only way forward was either to use my details (would make it messy and complicated) or use one of the Universities’ many spin out companies (the option we have to go for). This is where we were yesterday afternoon with just hours to go before we needed to submit the project. Sadly using the spin out company in this way is not as simple as just entering their details, it will need approving by the directors many of whom are not currently available to authorise it.

So the project has now stalled. We are waiting on approval from the directors of a subsidiary to the University which will in turn allow the finance department to okay the project which can then be okayed by the Head of the School. None of which can happen until everyone is in work and replying to e-mails.

Once this is all sorted out I am sure that project will still be going ahead and our current ETA is mid November. We just have to wade through a little more bureaucracy first!

ED: The author wrote this under heavy medication as all the previous (unmedicated) drafts  consisted of him banging his head on the keyboard.

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