I've been on the board for the last 10 months, helping find the development team and providing some guidance on tech, design, and community issues. And in the last year, watching the site evolve was an amazing experience, from an idea to a website with the potential to change the way things are made.
Since our launch ten weeks ago, over $250,000 has been pledged to make everything from books, magazines, albums (and album reissues), plays, films, art projects, zombie iPhone apps, and more. (Not to mention, my own Kind of Bloop album.) And keep in mind, the site's still invite-only!
Getting people to give you money is tricky, but I think we've hit on a formula for success:
- All-or-nothing. Projects are only successful if they reach the fundraising goal by the deadline, otherwise nobody pays. This limits risk for both backers and project creators, who don't have to worry about committing money and time to a failed project.
- Rewards. We strongly emphasize the importance of crafting good rewards, which makes Kickstarter more like commerce than altruism. We support multiple tiers of rewards from $1 to $10,000, limits for each, and tools for creators to contact each tier group independently.
- Publishing. A simple and powerful reward is access to exclusive updates during a project's funding and development, creating a powerful connection between the audience and project. As a result, we offer publishing tools for public or private updates, including hosted media and update notifications.
These mechanisms and constraints allow Kickstarter to not just fund projects, but test ideas, engage with an audience, and pre-sell your work without risk.
Earlier this month, I spoke at the Guardian Activate Summit in London about the power of play and applying game mechanics to non-games — difficult problems like environmental change, political activism, and fundraising. Kickstarter turns fundraising into a social game, where people have to work together within a time limit to reach a common goal. Already, we're seeing that projects develop their own viral momentum... Once a project hits 25% of its goal, success is almost guaranteed. (94% of projects that hit that mark eventually hit their goal.)
I look forward to pushing Kickstarter further in that direction, and build a platform flexible enough to do more than help artists raise money for themselves. I'd love to see more people use Kickstarter for commissioned works like Kind of Bloop, collecting the money to pay someone to make or do something you want to exist. Or anywhere you need to gauge market demand, like throwing parties without the risk of losing your shirt in ticket sales.
Soon, we'll be opening the site up to anyone who wants to make a project — and that's when things get really interesting. In the meantime, you can get an invite from an existing member, or sign up to get notified when Kickstarter opens to the public.