Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter provide new product developers with a novel and readily accessible platform to interact with potential customers, seek funding, and gain valuable feedback from target users. Successful startup design processes are often praised due to startups’ agility and ability to adapt to changing markets under extreme resource constraints. The COVID-19 pandemic changed the market in a number of significant ways, and publicly available data on Kickstarter provides valuable insight into the fundamental ways that product developers adapt to volatiles markets created by a global crisis. Leveraging linguistic analysis, topic modelling, k-means clustering, and principal component analysis, startup data was analyzed to identify overarching trends in startup launch campaigns across years. Specifically, this work identifies emerging trends in the Kickstarter market in 2020 to understand how external factors affect launch practices. Subtle yet significant changes in Kickstarter campaigns show that new clusters of campaigns emerged during 2020, not present in prior years, indicating that product developers adapted language to meet the needs of a changing market. Findings motivate a more thorough investigation of the relationships between startup market trends and external events to build a deeper understanding of the fundamental ways developers adapt design processes due to external stimuli.

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