Oct 282010
Bright Bike on Kickstarter
Image by mandiberg via Flickr

ARTISTS in need of paint money once had to rely on the largesse of benefactors. But social networking and new models for supporting creativity have turned the web into a modern horn of plenty. Kickstarter, created by Perry Chen, Charles Adler and Yancey Strickler, is the largest website dedicated to crowd-funding creative projects. People use the site to pitch specific project ideas, usually using a short self-made video, and aim to collect a target amount of funding over fixed time period, usually about a month. Because the process is free and open to anyone with a project that fits under the company’s inclusive set of guidelines, the diversity of ideas on display is wild.

Kickstarter has collected more than $20m in pledges for people in creative fields such as music, film and design, and has also found success among innovators in food and other areas. Perry Chen, a co-founder of the site, talked to More Intelligent Life about why Kickstarter works and what it means for a growing community of DIY artists.

Kickstarter is a start-up based in New York. What kind of influence does the city’s culture have on the company?

Well, I’m born and raised in New York. I’ve lived between New York and New Orleans for the last 16 to 17 years. Other than having a little dream of having a New Orleans office one day, we’ve never considered having it anywhere else. I met Charles and Yancey, my two other co-founders, in New York. New York is also our biggest location for projects. There is definitely a Downtown-New York-Brooklyn creative community that is very much a part of who we are, and also helps us grow out of New York.

What makes Kickstarter different from other crowd-funding platforms?

I wonder if people really know what the definition of crowd-funding is. Or, if there’s even an agreed upon definition of what it is. We haven’t actively supported the use of the term because it can provoke more confusion. In our case, we focus on a middle ground between patronage and commerce. People are offering cool stuff and experiences in exchange for becoming backers of a creative project. People are creating these mini-economies around their project ideas. So, you aren’t coming to the site to get something for nothing; you are trying to create value for the people who support you. We focus on creative projects—music, film, technology, art, design, food and publishing—and within the category of crowd-funding of the arts, we are probably ten times the size of all of the others combined.

Read more . . .

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