One of the huge challenges with new product development is gaining confidence that there is actually a market for your product. Back in the day, young companies would often go on faith that “if you build it, they will come”… Unfortunately, following this approach, a company would need to invest significant resources up front, at times only to find nobody was willing to buy the product they had so carefully created.
Having the data early in the process that there is a market enables companies to power through the challenges of product development, more effectively attract capital, and ensure a successful venture.
Crowdfunding is a phenomenal tool enabling young companies to harvest critical market data at almost no cost. Getting people to vote with their wallets and validate a product concept and feature set before the team spends additional money on development, tooling, inventory, logistics, marketing, etc. is a critical sanity check that was not previously available to small companies with limited budgets. In addition to funding, the team receives feedback, community support, and a contact list of future customers. Of course, these advantages need to be weighed against IP disclosure.
In the end, it is better to fail quickly so you can succeed sooner.