It used to be if you had an idea that might need some upfront money to develop or produce, you had to attract big money venture capital investors. Now you can go to Kickstarter and build community around your project with people you know and with small money strangers who are discovering your idea for the first time — and like it.
On Kickstarter, the creator presents his project, sets a funding goal, and offers rewards to contributors. If the goal is met within the time allotted, the contributors pay their pledged amount and then collect their reward. If the funding goal isn’t met, no one is charged anything.
For the contributors, it’s not about making money (they’re contributors not investors). It’s about being part of something you want to have happen. Examples of rewards for a project by a newspaper photographer in my hometown who wanted to produce a high quality book of his best photographs were — for $5 or more you get donor recognition on the book’s promotional web site, for $25 or more you get the recognition and a copy of the book, for $35 or more you get recognition and a signed copy of the book, etc. My local photographer raised more than 233 percent of his goal.
Co-founder Yancey Strickler explained in a radio interview with American Public Media’s Marketplace, “One of the notions behind Kickstarter is that if you changed the question behind funding from ‘Will this make money?’ to just ‘Do I want this to happen?’ — a lot more things become possible.”
Kickstarter began with film makers and artists and their projects but has expanded to just about anybody with an idea for anything. As the Marketplace interview discussed, the first million dollar project was an iPhone dock — that was only seeking $75,000 in funding.
To me, Kickstarter is a wonderful example of giving power to the people. There are no advertisers on Kickstarter. The creators don’t have to have the “right” connections to get big money’s ear. The contributors don’t have to be rich to be part of bringing something they’d like to see into the world.
What about You?
For you trainers and officers out there with an idea for some innovative or creative project or product that could benefit the police profession, check out Kickstarter — and contact me. I’d love to hear from you and possibly be one of your angel contributors.