Kickstarter made the headlines last week when it helped the computer game producer Frontier Developments hit its £1.25 million target for space simulator game Elite:Dangerous. On the same day another website mashable.com reported that filmmakers have earned $102.7 million in pledges via Kickstarter, which isn't exactly small change I'm sure you'll agree. This week Kickstarter was in the news again because the Pebble smartwatch, a project that secured over £10 million in pledges (a Kickstarter record) is soon to be shipping to its backers.
So what is Kickstarter? Well, it is describes itself as a "funding platform for creative projects". It allows "ambitious, innovative, and imaginative" projects to get the funding they need to become a reality. In the case of Elite:Dangerous some people have been waiting for this sequel since 1995! One of the problems with games as ambitious as this, is that funding through traditional methods is incredibly hard to secure especially in our current financial climate. As a result there was a funding gap which companies like Kickstarter have been able to fill.
Perhaps more descriptively Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform, which means that funding is achieved through the collective contributions from a lot of individuals. In the case of Elite:Dangerous whilst details of who the backers is available it doesn't give their motives. I would think that the majority of backers are fans of the original Elite games or other gamers who like the proposals presented by the developers.
Of course just starting a project on Kickstarter doesn't ensure that it will achieve funding, to date 44% of projects have achieved their funding goals, that initially may not seem like an amazing rate but I suspect that it is has lead to more projects being supported than those who only went via traditional funding methods.
You may be wondering what happens if the project doesn't reach it's goal? Well Kickstarter has an all or nothing approach, only when the project reaches its goal do people get charged for their pledge. Which is good as it means projects secure full funding meaning they stand a far greater chance of success than if they only received 50% of their target, but also as a pledgee you far less likely to be contributing to a project doomed to failure from the start.
So what does this mean for you? Well if you have an idea and need to secure funding Kickstarter could be the way to go, there are no guarantees of course, you'll have to work hard to promote your idea through traditional marketing streams but it could mean that your idea comes to life.
Here are some of my favourite successfully funded Kickstarter projects: