Tuesday, August 28, 2012


There are two kinds of people in the world: those who know and love Kickstarter, and those who have never heard of it before.

If you're one of the latter, after you read this post you'll discover a Kickstarter story around every corner. It's been covered on NPR, pilloried by The Onion on YouTube, and featured in the Wall Street Journal. Ask the next three people you meet if they've heard of Kickstarter. I'll bet at least two of them have.

What is Kickstarter

In the company's own words:
Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects. At this very second, thousands of people are checking out projects on Kickstarter. 
They're rallying around their friends' ideas, backing projects from people they've long admired, and discovering things that make them laugh and smile. 
Every project is independently crafted, put to all-or-nothing funding, and supported by friends, fans, and the public in return for rewards.
Creative Projects

This is what I love most about Kickstarter. It's all about creativity. At a time when the powers that be want to focus on standardization (that's JMHO, of course), this creative group of people mapped out a creative way to fund creative projects. (That sentence needs a few more creative adjectives.)

There have been some phenomenal successes on Kickstarter, like Ouya, a new video game console that raised $2,589,687.77 on the first day and a total of $8,596,475 in the course of its 30-day campaign. Millions of dollars, with a capital M. OK, but that's video gaming, and those people are crazy, right?

But then there's Jordon Stratford, who raised $91,751 dollars for an idea (albeit a great idea) he has for a steampunk middle-grade novel called Wollstonecraft. His original goal was $4,000. He wrote about his Kickstarter experiences and shared many tips on his gorgeous blog. Harry Potter aside, most children's book readers aren't nearly as crazy as gamers when it comes to spending hard-earned cash, but this guy caught the wave.

It used to be that creative projects needed the backing of foundations or philanthropists to raise that kind of money. Today, it can be done a few dollars at a time with donations from anyone with a credit card who can get online.

There have been some colossal failures at Kickstarter, too (although they're not easy to find). The platform offers up their stats to anyone who wants to take the time to read them. Here are their figures to date:


I have found the Kickstarter site pretty easy to navigate. Payment is done through Amazon, so Kickstarter and its participants never see your credit card. It's an all or nothing proposition, too. If the project meets its goal, then backers are charged. If the project fails to meet its goal, no money changes hands.

Crowd Funding and Social Media

One of the most interesting aspects of Kickstarter is how successful it has been at harnessing the tools of social media. Successful campaigns all use Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and other social networking tools to garner support. It reminds me of that old Faberge commercial with Heather Locklear: you tell two friends, and they'll tell two friends, and so on, and so on, and so on.

Companies large and small are scrambling to find a way to harness the power of social networking, and it seems to me they could learn a thing or two from Kickstarter (or at least its successful participants).

I have personally funded three Kickstarter campaigns and am following several others. It's been fascinating to watch what works and what doesn't. Buzz seems to beget buzz, and Kickstarter fosters that, featuring projects that are doing well as staff picks and projects of the day. As my brother says, it's all about the launch.

Who knows how long the Kickstarter phenomenon will last?

Stay tuned …

Have you funded or launched a Kickstarter project? Tell us about it in a comment by clicking here.