Still not sure what exactly Kickstarter is? You’re not alone.
Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects. It allows creators of all types to connect with the masses, and the projects and associated “pledges” can take all forms. Kickstarter can fund an indie movie, or a music album, or some cool clothing, or a box of doughnuts. Or in our case, it can fund a really fancy spork.
The truth is, creating stuff often costs money, and artists aren’t always known for their affluence. The process of going from napkin sketch to tangible finished project is long and expensive, especially in higher volume. Fabricating the molds to manufacturing custom parts can cost tens of thousands of dollars alone. In short, making stuff ain’t cheap!
Kickstarter allows Creators to share their projects with the world, and allows Backers to pledge funds towards making the project a reality in exchange for a reward. If you back a project, you’re essentially pre-ordering a cool creative project that just needs a little bump to the finish line.
Here’s what the whole process of backing a Kickstarter looks like, step-by-step:
Let’s say you’re browsing Kickstarter projects and you see a project that catches your eye - say, a fancy spork. Clicking on the project will bring you to the project’s campaign page. This is the Creator’s soapbox for their project, and it gives Backers a chance to learn more about the project and the rewards they can pledge towards. Creators can post videos, pictures, and text to explain their project, and Backers can select from a variety of pledge options to help fund the project.
A Kickstarter campaign typically lasts about 30 days (they can last 1 - 60 days), and each project has a funding Goal that the campaign needs to hit for the Kickstarter campaign to be successful. If the campaign is a success, the Creator receives the project funds from their Backers and it’s off to the races. If the campaign fails, nobody is charged and it’s game over. Popular campaigns can attract more backers and raise funds far beyond their goals. Our last campaign attracted 5341 backers and blew past our $20k Goal to reach $159k - a 795% bonus!
After the completion of a successful campaign, it’s the Creator’s job to wrap up the project with the help of their new funding, and to supply Backers with progress updates as they work towards shipping pledge rewards. The Creator will also send surveys to Backers for details like shipping address and reward options.
The Creator needs to budget carefully to ensure each pledge reward is shipped before funds are exhausted - not a trivial task. In addition to production costs, they have to budget for shipping, packaging, and an endless stream of nickle-and-dime expenses. If they’re lucky, they might even have a few bucks leftover for a round of beers after the last package is shipped - if they aren’t already reinvesting it back into the company for whatever comes next.
Next step: be patient. Remember, the project isn’t finished yet - that’s what the campaign and funding was for: bridging the gap between a well thought out idea and a quality final product ready to ship to your doorstep. And sometimes those final steps take time. A quality part mold may take 6-12 weeks for a factory to produce, plus additional time for tweaking the molds, shipping samples, and finally producing the final product in volume. It’s easy to see how a simple project can take time to ship, even with the Creator moving as fast as they can.
This is where the beauty of Kickstarter lies - it gives Creators a venue to sell the masses on their crazy and hair-brained ideas. It allows projects to flourish that grab the eye of the intended audience, but might never attract the attention of venture capitalists or angel investors. It gives ambitious projects the ability to grow beyond infancy, or at all.
Or, in our case, Kickstarter can allow a plucky pair of product designers to create the best darn spork with the world. And with the help of our spork-savvy supporters, we’re hoping to do it again.
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