When Eric Migicovsky posted on Kickstarter his prototype for a sleek watch that integrates with iPhone and Android devices, he didn’t anticipate the tidal wave of support it would receive.
Within hours of going live, the project hit its $100,000 funding goal. Then it kept going. Three weeks later, the Pebble watch had drawn $7.8 million from backers, shattering Kickstarter’s previous $3.3 million fundraising record. Today it has hit $10.2 million from backers. More than 50,000 people have laid down at least $115 for a Pebble watch (an early-bird price: the planned minimum retail price is $150), and 31 backers have thrown down $10,000 for a “distributor pack” of 100 watches.
It’s a sweet turnaround for a project that left Silicon Valley’s venture capitalists cold.
Let me first start with a disclaimer.
I’m addicted to Kickstarter. I’m currently funding production of a movie, a watch, a kid’s book, a marketing book, an indie guide to publishing and others.
So what is Kickstarter?
The fast growing crowd funding platform Kickstarter is arguably one of the most disruptive and innovative platforms to emerge for the creative community. Less a technology site, more a socio-cultural movement, Kickstarter is changing how we make things, how we turn dreams into reality and make ideas come to life. It allows individuals to post their creative projects (everything ranging from music and film to technology and journalism) and start an online threshold-pledge system for the funding of the project In short: if you can’t get a book deal, you can post your project to Kickstarter, define the budget and invite anybody and everybody who thinks it’s a good idea to become a backer of the project.
Kickstarter is a New York startup that was founded in April 2009. They are a home for everything from films, games, and music to art, design, and technology. Kickstarter is full of projects, big and small, that are brought to life through the direct support of people like you and me. And since their launch in 2009, more than 4.4 million people have pledged over $699 million, funding more than 45,000 creative projects. Thousands of creative projects are raising funds on Kickstarter right now. Even more impressive, Kickstarter has a project success rate of close to 45 per cent. (Success is defined by whether the project met or surpassed the threshold set by the project organizers). The company makes its money by taking a percentage of the funded projects.
Kickstarter is The Long Tail at work.
Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs. was known for saying that it’s not the customer’s job to know what they want. There’s also that old Henry Ford saying, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”. Regardless, we tend to think true entrepreneurs are the ones who can see into the future. The ones who recognize a new market where there isn’t one. If that’s the case, it also explains why there aren’t that many great entrepreneurs: the risk is huge and having a true vision for a product or service that doesn’t exist can be a solitary place to be…
Kickstarter does more than initiate interesting and obscure projects, it helps kick-start entrepreneurship by minimizing risk. With Kickstarter, business owners can figure out if they’re producing something that people actually want, instead of producing something and then trying to create the market for it.
And Kickstarter makes it easy for anyone to participate… for as little as a $1 dollar pledge… you’re a backer.
If it’s not a game-changer, I don’t know what is.