Fri 25th Jan 2013, by Paul Hellard | Productfocus

Have you ever found a project that needed funds, tried and failed to find the right backers and had it sitting on the shelf?


Finding investors to fund projects can be a massive task. But now, projects deemed almost impossible to fund have found the required liquidity. In the middle of this, the Kickstarter funding model has really taken off.



Perry Chen, one of the founders seen above, found organising a DJ to come to New Orleans an almost impossible task, because of the lack of funds. He knew so many people wanted these artists to play, but were hamstrung in their attempts to convince a promotor. What if people could go to a site and pledge to buy tickets for a show? And if enough money was pledged they would be charged and the show would happen. If not, it wouldn't.


Chen's business was music and he knew that the answer was in gathering interest and action from those with similar taste. These days, thousands of creative projects are funding on Kickstarter at any given moment. Each project is independently created and crafted by the person behind it. The filmmakers, musicians, artists, and designers you see on Kickstarter have complete control and responsibility over their projects. They spend weeks building their project pages, shooting their videos, and brainstorming what rewards to offer backers. When they're ready, creators launch their project and share it with their community. It’s remains up to them and the strength of the project. If people like the project, they can pledge money to make it happen. If the project succeeds in reaching its funding goal, all backers' credit cards are charged when time expires. If the project falls short, no one is charged. Funding on Kickstarter is all-or-nothing.


Creative Funding

Art, Comics, Dance, Design, Fashion, Film, Food, Games, Music, Photography, Publishing, Technology, and Theater. Everything on Kickstarter must be a project. A project has a clear goal, like making an album, a book, or a work of art. A project will eventually be completed, and something will be produced by it. The project creators keep the ownership of their work. Kickstarter cannot be used to offer financial returns or equity, or to solicit loans. Some projects that are funded on Kickstarter may go on to make money, but backers are supporting projects to help them come to life, not financially profit.



If a project is successfully funded, Kickstarter applies a five percent fee to the funds collected. In the US, pledges will be processed by Amazon Payments, while in the UK, pledges will be processed securely through a third-party payments processor. These payment processing fees work out to roughly 3-5%. If the project does not reach its funding goal, there are no fees.

Since their launch on April 28, 2009, over $458 million has been pledged by more than 3.2 million people, funding more than 34,000 creative projects.



“I was living in New Orleans in late 2001 and I wanted to bring a pair of DJs down to play a show during the 2002 Jazz Fest,” explains Kickstarter co-founder Perry Chen. “I found a great venue and reached out to their management, but in the end the show never happened—it was just too much money. The fact that the potential audience had no say in this decision stuck uncomfortably in my brain. I thought: “What if people could go to a site and pledge to buy tickets for a show? And if enough money was pledged they would be charged and the show would happen. If not, it wouldn't.”

The rest was planning, trying to get answers to questions about site design, cost of development. Chen moved back to New York City. In the fall of 2005, he met Yancey Strickler, and they paired up brainstorming. A whiteboard. Big dreams. He was introduced to Charles Adler and we ended up with wireframes and specifications for the site.

None of these guys could code. They had some false starts hiring people to build the site. There were months where not much happened. People had to leave and not much was happening. It was emotionally draining for the core team. While the economy was collapsing, they kept in contact and found some developers. Chatting on Skype and emailing kept the idea alive.

“Finally, on April 28, 2009, we launched Kickstarter to the public. It was amazing! You cannot imagine how excited we all were,” says co-founder Perry Chen. “Filmmakers took their natural-born hustle and wrapped it around our template. People stepped up to support projects over and over again. It was thrilling. And then one day we even had an office. In January 2010, nine months after we launched, we moved into a tenement building in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.”






Underwater Realm

While this project was fully funded when it came to my attention, I thought the result was so strikingly different, there was no way I was not going to include it in the list. A great story from the film maker's perspective and the resulting production could spearhead a feature.  Click the image to read the Kickstarter funded production story.


Pepe & Lucas

Last year, BrainZoo created a short animated romantic comedy film entirely using their in-house talent. This completed short, Pepe & Lucas, even made the long list for the Academy Awards!

The subject matter of Pepe & Lucas, explores a very timely subject; what happens when two unlikely characters, a mime and a clown, discover what can happen when opposing forces work together instead of against each other during trying times. In the spirit of working together, the team at BrainZoo decided to tap into Kickstarter to help extend extend their eight minute Pepe & Lucas, short into a full 22-minute pilot episode.


Bill Plympton

Bill has a new animation he has written, storyboarded, voiced, and is in the last stages.  But the film isn't finished until its finished. Click through to see how he's going. This hero of independent animation projects brings a personal tilt to many of his films, together with a solid and unique style of hand-drawn character. Click through to this story.




Battling depression is a serious business, but battling it doesn't have to be a struggle. These qualified physicians have got together with a project needing to be funded to create a game to help sufferers battle their mental enemies. This is a little like the SuperBetter game introduced by Jane McGonical, the Keynote speaker in SIGGRAPH in 2012.  Click through to find out more.




Animated Freethought

You get a good idea and want to have a voice. While there are several spare coins in church coffers for the odd story-telling video, those artists without a faith felt they needed a way to tell the story about how they see the world.  Nothing wrong with that. Click the image to see how they are going.




Blur Studio 

Blur Studio had the strong presence of their crew, renowned for producing some of the industry's most beautiful game cinematics for the likes of Bethesda, Blizzard and many others. They also had the money and attention-pulling power of director David Fincher. No doubt, this was why they had to weather a bit of the storm of questions about why on Earth they would want to use Kickstarter to get funding in the first place.   Answer?  Because the system works, and the project is now happening.


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