Wednesday night I accompanied Lauren Cornell and some other members from her technology and arts organization, Rhizome.org,
Credit: Rhizome, via Flickr
to visit the offices of Kickstarter on the Lower East Side. There I met Perry Chen and Yancey Strickler, two adorable young men who founded Kickstarter several years ago after Chen, then a waiter in a Brooklyn diner, shared his idea to start a fundraising web platform with Strickler, a music critic and frequent customer.
Credit: Fred Benenson, via Flickr
After many discussions, the result was kickstarter.com, a website that allows anyone to submit a creative project and then petition for its funding. It is both the Facebook and eBay of fundraising and, I think, will continue to see great success. Here is how it works: you email Kickstarter to get permission to post on the site - this part is not about them vetting quality, it's just about policing the site to make sure that you want funding for a creative project and not for a business or other endeavor that falls outside of what they consider creative (their definition of which is very generous). Then you log on and post a video, a written description, a time frame no longer than 90 days, and a goal amount. Finally you break down rewards for donors - $1 gets you X, $5 gets you Y, and so on. Suppose your goal was $5,000; if you only raise $4999, the project closes unfunded and no one has to pay out. If it does get funded, then Kickstarter takes a 5% fee of the total amount.
As Chen and Strickler noted, more remarkable than getting the project funded (even if it fails), is the community of people that the project generates for the creator, as it puts that person in touch with other individuals who share the same interests. It's definitely worth taking a look: www.kickstarter.com.
Credit: Kickstarter, via http://www.anywherebutherefilm.com/2010/07/31/hello-kickstarters/kickstarter-logo/