Kickstarter: A community funding new ideas
March 31, 2014
by Mark Ollig

Hopefully, by the time you read this, the outdoor temperatures will have become more “spring like.”

Our Minnesota winter put up a gallant battle, but the calendar says spring, and I am ready for some warmer weather.

With the spring, comes renewed optimism to pursue goals we may have contemplated upon during those cold, snow-filled, winter months.

During the course of this past winter, what if someone had developed an ingenious, brand-new type of solar energy-collecting device?

Say this person meticulously wrote down the details of how it works, and even completed the mechanical system drawings of the specific parts needed for this project, and is ready to build the prototype.

Regrettably, the person is lacking the funds to build it.

What’s needed is a financial kick-start; an initial monetary goal to be reached in order to get the ball rolling.

This person probably wishes there was a large community of people readily available who could see what his idea was, engage in correspondence about the project, and back it by making a financial pledge.

Well, there is such a crowdfunding platform community.

This popular Internet online community is called Kickstarter.

Since 2009, Kickstarter has been an online venue for hosting the presentation of ideas for a vast assortment of unique projects, including: music, film, fashion, technology, gadgets, software, games, publishing, photography, books, works of art, theater production, and others.

Each project has a specific dollar amount as its funding goal; this goal must be reached in a certain allotted number of days.

It’s an all-or-nothing funding campaign, as the funds will only be awarded to the project’s creator if the monetary goal is reached. This safeguards the project creator from receiving only a fraction of what they actually need to successfully fund their project.

The risk to the financial backers is minimized, as their contributions would only be used if the project’s funding goal were achieved.

Project creators are encouraged to make a short video explaining their idea to potential backers, along with pictures about the project on their Kickstarter page.

Most people have a desire to be associated with an exciting, brand-new product, film production, or art creation. It is hoped these folks would contribute to a project which interests them, as a financial backer.

These backers are rewarded a variety of items and/or services having to do with the project, based upon the tiered dollar amounts pledged.

The creators of each project being funded, keep the backers up-to-date with the project’s progress via their personalized project page, social media networks, and email.

The financial contributors, aside from assisting with the funding, can enjoy the feeling of being a part of the project. They stay involved with the project by learning more about its progress via correspondence with the project creators, and updates on the project’s Kickstarter page.

A certain number of days are made available for each project to become fully funded.

If the project is not fully financed by the funding goal deadline, no funds will be debited from the contributors, no money changes hands, and the project is listed as being unfunded.

Creators can re-launch their project idea again, using lessons learned from their previous project launch attempt (such as ideas and comments from community feedback) to improve their next project idea presentation.

If, however, the project successfully reaches its funding goal, Kickstarter will charge a contributor’s credit card for the amount pledged.

The project creator will have access to these funds in about two weeks.

As the project progresses, the backers are regularly updated with news on how things are developing, by the project’s creator.

To date, Kickstarter statistics report 5,857,030 people have contributed as backers for various projects.

In Minneapolis, 1,359 Kickstarter projects are currently listed. You can see those projects here: http://tinyurl.com/bytes-k3.

The listing of project types can be categorized.

Under the art category, one recent, successfully funded Kickstarter project from Minneapolis was for an MCAD (Minneapolis College of Art Design) unique deck of playing cards.

Some 54 MCAD student artists were involved with creating 54 individually designed playing cards.

The funding goal was reached, with $4,227 being raised from 144 backers of the project.

You can see the project’s Kickstarter page, which includes a video made by MCAD students at: http://tinyurl.com/bytes-mcad1.

As of this writing, Kickstarter has a total of $1,037,732,052 pledged to Kickstarter projects.

There are currently 58,560 successfully funded projects.

To see the daily updated Kickstarter stats, go to: http://tinyurl.com/bytes-k1.

So, if you have an exciting project idea you think would make the world a better place, and you want to get your message out to a community of like-minded people who could be interested in backing it, give Kickstarter a try.

Kickstarter’s webpage is located at: https://www.kickstarter.com.

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