What’s This Kickstarter Thing?
I first discovered Kickstarter when a band I really like (Renegade Stringband — you should really check ’em out and go to all their shows!) used it to fund an album. After that, I was hooked. I’ve backed other albums, a few photography gadgets (the Capture Clip system is awesome!), and some toys and games. I’m a big fan of the notion of empowering inventors and designers so that they can bring their dreams to life without having to produce enough profit to keep traditional investors happy.
The way I see it, making a huge profit isn’t what it’s about; the whole point is to contribute something to the world and make your idea a reality. I’d like to be able to tell my kids (and, someday, grandkids) that, yeah, I made those LEGO chess sets and people liked them and backed my project. I may make a little money from this, but not a significant amount. (And most of it will likely go towards backing other kickstarter projects.)
If you’re not familiar with Kickstarter, the way it works is this: Someone with a project in mind figures out what they need to make it happen and posts the details on Kickstarter. Potential backers read about it, watch the video, and decide if they like the idea. If they do, and they feel confident that the project creator can deliver, they can choose to back it financially. If the project reaches its goal, the project creator gets the funds and the project moves ahead. If not — and this is key — the creator gets nothing.
I really like this feature because it means that the backers aren’t on the hook when a project doesn’t make enough to be completed. If, for example, a project needed $5k to place a minimum order and it only receives $500, the folks that committed to backing it aren’t out the money when, clearly, the project cannot be completed. Luckily, this project only needs $1250 to move ahead.