How to Get Your Dream Project Funded on

June 22, 2011 6:19 PM

Kickstarter projectThe web is a powerful platform for fundraising and has harnessed that power for individuals who need funding for their creative projects. According to the site, they are the “largest funding platform for creative projects in the world. Every month, tens of thousands of amazing people pledge millions of dollars to projects from the worlds of music, film, art, technology, design, food, publishing and other creative fields.”

How it works

This is not for charity causes or personal expenses, like tuition. But if you’ve got a stellar idea for a website, a theatre production, a stylish breast pump – this is for you.

You keep the money you raise through online contributions made by users towards your project, minus a 5% fee for Kickstarter and a 3-5% fee for Amazon Payments.

You share your project on the site for free (subject to approval by the Kickstart team) by describing the idea, the plan of execution, yourself and the rewards you’ll offer to your backers. You aren’t allowed to offer profit share as a reward. You can, however, offer a free copy of the first edition of your comic book. But the end product of your idea is the real reward. The site is truly intended to allow people the opportunity to fund creative projects that they want to see come to fruition. So, if people read about your idea and think, “Damn, I’d love to read that comic book,” that’s where you’ve got them sold.

You must set a target funding goal and a deadline. If you don’t get the target amount by that deadline, you don’t get any of the money pledged. That rule keeps things realistic – Kickstart is for people with a solid plan who need short-term funding and don’t want to give away an equity stake in their company. It’s truly the kickstart that a great idea needs.

Success stories

One of the most famous success stories is the TikTok+LunaTik Multi-Touch Watch Kits, which are wristbands that turn the iPod nano into a watch. The man behind the idea is product design genius Scott Wilson, the former creative director at Nike whose work has been displayed at museums like the MOMA and who’s worked on many high-profile products, like the Xbox360. He forewent the corporate route on this one even though he had the contacts and the credibility. Instead, he set a fundraising goal of only $15,000 and ended up raising $941,778 in only 30 days from 13,512 people.

A smaller scale example is the theatre project THE TOUGHEST GIRL ALIVE! The Life & Times of Candye Kane, which currently has 39 days to go before its deadline and has already surpassed the original funraising goal of $6,000.

Where it began

Kickstart was launched in 2009 by Yancey Strickler, Charles Adler, and Perry Chen. Chen had the beginnings of the idea in 2002 when he was an unemployed musician who wanted to put on a show with then unknown Austrian DJs Kruder & Dorfmeister, and he backed out because the risk was too great – it would cost $15,000 and he had no idea if people would show up. But he wondered what would have happened if he had sold tickets in advance online, guaranteeing the show’s success. A few years later, he tossed the idea around with Yancey Strickler, who was a regular at the Brooklyn Diner where he was waiting tables and was working as an editor at eMusic. They teamed up with interaction designer Charles Adler, who took charge of the look and feel and useability of the site. They hired a developer for the build, then invited their arts and media friends to populate the site with their projects. The subsequent success was, and is, more than they had ever expected.

Read the fascinating full story at Wired.

Tips for you

If you pitch it well, they will fund you. Here are a few suggestions for sharing your project with the world of potential backers:

1. Your project page will be the major indicator of your ability to execute the project, so make sure the writeup is amazing, the grammar is impeccable, photos are beautiful, video is well made. Enlist the help of friends that can proofread, shoot photos, edit, etc.

2. Browse projects that have succeeded. See how people who posted ideas similar to yours presented themselves. Here’s a great video created by the people who raised $345,992 for the film “Blue Like Jazz“. You should also check out the projects that look like they won’t reach their goals to identify mistakes to avoid.

2. Include the Kickstarter pledge widget for your project on your own website or blog and ask willing friends to do the same. And promote the heck out of your project on social media, on your blog and through whatever traditional media outlets you can pitch to.

3. Create a tiered but concise pledge incentive program with cool rewards. Here’s an example of the rewards for a recently successful children’s book project.

4. Communicate with your backers and the people commenting and messaging you through your project page. Kickstarter is an opportunity to gain more than just money for your project – it helps you create a dedicated audience/market as well.

5. Read the Kickstarter blog post: “Tips From Creators and Beyond” for the best advice from the creators of Kickstart and successful project starters on how to get your project funded.

If you’re interested in being a backer, you can browse current projects here. Or why not kickstart your own dream project now?


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