Joining Kickstarter

Some news: I’m proud to announce that I’ve taken the CTO role at Kickstarter, the Brooklyn-based crowdfunding startup I’ve mentioned here before. Yay!

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.

38 thoughts on “Joining Kickstarter

  1. That’s awesome! Congratulations.

    I volunteer at a non profit, Surfers Healing – free surf camp for children with autism, and I can see the potential for this.

  2. “…building a platform that’s flexible enough to be used by more than just artists trying to raising money.”

    +1!!

    I wanted to use Kickstarter to see if my blog readers would buy me a Kindle for my bday, but all the artist/nonprofit stuff kinda made me feel like a DB for trying to use it for that purpose.

  3. An excellent project and excellent news! I’m a longtime Waxy.org fan, and a very dear friend—Sunny Bates—is on the Kickstarter board. It’s inspiring to see good folks do good things.

  4. This sounds like a win for all parties…congrats!

    I’ve checked out kickstarter a few times so far but haven’t gotten active myself yet…the interesting thing about the concept though is that from first glance it makes you want to come up with a worthy cause to ask for funding for…no doubt it’s only going to explode from here!

  5. Kickstart is amazing, I am looking forward to be able to try to use it for some of my own projects…

    And on that note, when you say “Next month, we’ll be opening the site up to anyone who wants to make a project”, does anyone means anyone, or any US resident with an US bank account? 😉

  6. Congrats, Andy! I just emailed you. I’m an indie filmmaker, and I’m interested in the possibility of using Kickstarter for my next project.

    Thanks!

    Amil

  7. This is very cool…never even imagined something like this being possible. How fulfilling an experience for you Andy to be involved in the conception and development phase and too see it evolve to where it is today….The potential for Kickstarter is mind-blowing! Congrats!

  8. Kickstarter already helped us raise over $2000 to press our new album! I’m glad that one of my favorite bloggers is now helping to run the show over there. Kickstarter is a revolution!

  9. Very cool. I first heard about Kickstarter from your blog and I thought it was an amazing, game-changing idea.

    Good luck!

  10. That’s great news, congrats to you and the kickstarter team! Look forward to seeing how things develop.

  11. Congrats Andy – I suspected this.

    btw – I saw an interesting interview with Gabe Newell where he was talking about wanting to bring kickstarter style project funding to the steam platform – very exciting prospect!

  12. Congratulations Andy….we’re looking forward to visiting you soon….in New York!

  13. Congrats Andy! – Does that mean that you’ll be spending more time on the East Coast? You have an open invitation to visit us here at the Echo Nest.

    — Paul

  14. Andy,

    This is great news! Good work. I’ve been following Kickstarter for some time now and I’m bummed that I didn’t realize earlier that it’s perfect for funding my project.

    I own a small non-profit that’s trying to get it’s legs called Rotten Apple Fight. We want to host a whole heck of a lot of live design competitions for designers of all ages, and hopefully take our comps on the road to different venues. We think this is a great opportunity for young designers to gain exposure, as well as a chance for the more experienced to flex. Our underlying goal is to promote arts education in America, since we all know that it’s the first thing to get cut from budgets in economic times like these.

    If you have more invites lying around, my partner and I would love one. And if not, we’ll be happy to wait another month.

    I wish you, and the Kickstarter team all the best!

    -Aaron

  15. Hi Andy, if you have any invites available for Kickstarter, I would love to receive one. I am trying to set up a digital time capsule of peoples’ reactions to living through this current recession. Apologies if I have double-posted this comment – I think I screwed it up on the first attempt. Kickstarter rocks. Pierre

  16. Hi Andy, I have been checking out Kickstarter for the last few weeks and can’t express enough how beautiful it is. One of the things that stands out the most is the variety of artists and trades that Kickstarter exposes to the world. Please check out my current project. The idea behind the road trip was to bring art to people. In the traditional sense galleries, museums, internet, books, require people that seek art, what about those people who don’t have time or knowledge of what’s out there or what’s happening. http://www.progressroadtrip.blogspot.com

    Thanks Andy!!!

  17. What a great idea Kickstarter is! You must be super excited to be a part of such a wonderful experiment. I’ve signed up and am going through the amazing project profiles who are seeking funding pledges. So many to choose from! And, of course, I can’t wait to get the chance to put mine up there, too.

    Good luck in your new adventure!

  18. I’d love to use Kickstarter to fund a documentary photography project, offering signed and numbered prints to people who help fund the project. Drop me a line if you want more information, and thanks for your work on such a great idea!

  19. Congratulations on kickstarter! I read an article a couple months ago about a drummer who had a similar incentive idea. He spread the word on a new album with it and I wondered how one could generate the same quid pro quo without those kind of industry contacts, or an established reputation… kickstarter seems perfect.

    Can I submit a proposal? If so, how? I have what I believe to be a great idea, but wont trouble you with it unless you are in fact receiving proposals.

    I very much appreciate any follow up. Thanks!!

  20. Hello.

    A mom and pop biz out of Ojai, Ca. would like to know how to get invited to Kickstarter…we would like to send in some “LoveFest” media we created here in the Valley Of The Moon and share it with the world through kickstarter…appropriate for all ages.

    Can you help us with this part of the equation ? We have something lovely to share with you which may be of some fun to those who live together, love together, and want to be together…

    Thank you for your consideration,

    J and K McEuen

  21. I have been developing websites for several years now and this is probably the most I’ve been impressed with a single website. Not only due to the brilliance behind it but the sheer capacity to do good for so many people. I wholeheartedly applaud your efforts!

    This may be the ideal tool for a few friends and I who are working on starting a non-profit group to help revolutionize bicycle transportation in 3rd world countries. If invites are available, I’d love to be considered for one.

  22. I’m very interested in creating a Kickstarter project and I was wondering if you would be able to send me an invite.

    My son has the ability to go down to the Sugar Bowl this year and play drums at half time with his high school band. The cost is $1000.00 and he has to come up with the money himself. The interesting part of this is my brother-in-law played in the 1973 Sugar Bowl with Notre Dame. This year he has gone through 4 heart surgeries and lost his job but he is fanatical about going down to New Orleans to watch my son play in the half time show. His costs would probably be $2000.00 to go down and watch him at half time. Would you be able give me a Kickstarter invite or know anyone that would be willing to give one so my son and brother-in-law can make it down to the Sugar Bowl this year.

    Thanks

    Gary Lesniewski

  23. Any kickstars out there with any invites to spare??? I’d like to launch a real estate investors/buyer network and online forum spearheaded via a power-team of industry professional’s in finance on a local front.

    Our goal is to educate today’s marketplace in this economic cycle.

    RE: The point of the deal- The key to success is keeping the end result in mind when making deals… How do we balance personal character with the pursuit of profits?

    “The point of a deal vs. The art of the Deal”

    Building a solid foundation today to ensure a bright and rewarding future for all…

    “People 1st, Then Money, Things”

    Here’s to Success- UW

  24. hey! i am a jewelry student in florence and would love to join kickstarter to help get funding to launch my first line of jewelry!!

    are invites still necessary?

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