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- Date Established
- Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY
- Most popular business/creative crowdfunding site
- Suited for large businesses
- Industry-standard fees
- Excellent media outreach
- Limited customer support
- Not all project proposals are accepted
- Can only launch a project from certain countries
- All-or-nothing funding
Ever since the World Wide Web was foisted upon a grunge-ridden populace in the early-to-mid ’90s, there have been attempts to use the internet’s attention-aggregation power to solicit funds for people, projects, and institutions that otherwise would struggle for funding. However, it wasn’t until April 28th, 2009, that Kickstarter — a company whose name has become a byword for crowdfunding in general — was launched.
Based in part on monetizing the internet generation’s social identification with the ethos of the creative class, Kickstarter is dedicated to the crowdfunding of creative projects, not charity or personal use. Unlike such services as Indiegogo or GoFundMe, your project must meet its fundraising goals within a set period before you receive any funding. Furthermore, if and when your project comes to fruition, you are obligated to provide “rewards” for your backers. These rewards must be of your own creation.
According to its website, Kickstarter has seen over 5 billion dollars pledged to projects, over 184,000 successfully funded projects, and over 18 million total backers. While Kickstarter is not without its critics, it occupies a commanding position in the crowdfunding field in terms of the amount of media attention it receives.
Let’s take a closer look at this popular crowdfunding platform.
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Table of Contents
Kickstarter provides a platform for users to raise funds from individual backers for creative projects. When you start a Kickstarter project, you must choose from the following categories:
- Film & Video
You can launch a Kickstarter campaign from the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Denmark, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Hong Kong, Singapore, Mexico, and Japan. Backers can support a Kickstarter project from anywhere in the world.
Kickstarter lays out five rules that all projects must follow to qualify for crowdfunding:
- Projects must create something to share with others
- Projects must be honest and clearly presented
- Projects can’t fundraise for charity
- Projects can’t offer equity
- Projects can’t involve prohibited items
Kickstarter must approve all projects before they can go live. Approval can take up to three days.
Terms & Fees
These are the terms and fees for Kickstarter’s fundraising campaigns:
|Funding Duration:||Up to 60 days|
|Payment Processing Fee For Pledges:||3% + $0.20 per pledge|
|Payment Processing Fee For Pledges Under $10:||5% + $0.05 per pledge|
Stripe is Kickstarter’s payment processor, so that company gets a cut of each pledge made to a successful funding campaign. I say “successful” because if a project’s funding period ends without the funding goal being met, no money is collected (and no fees are applied). Therefore, when considering how much funding you’ll need to realize your vision, take into account the chunk of your fundraising haul that will be gobbled up by fees. The fee structure outside of the US is similar to what you see above, with Kickstarter typically taking a 5% haul of the amount you raise. The payment processing fees, however, will vary according to your local currency.
Note that while you can set a funding period of up to 60 days, Kickstarter recommends a funding period of 30 days or less, citing internal data that shows projects lasting 30 days or fewer have a greater shot at meeting their goals.
As I said, part of the terms of launching a Kickstarter project and accepting support from backers is that you provide physical rewards for your backers upon completion of the project. The rewards you offer can depend on the level of support pledged — for instance, you could offer trading cards to those who make $10 pledges, a copy of your board game project for $100, and a special edition of your board game complete with posters and expansion packs for $500.
I use the example of a board game because such games are one of Kickstarter’s most popular project categories, helping to fuel the current “golden era” of strategy-based, art-heavy tabletop games.
Other start-up business loan options if your Kickstarter campaign falls through:
|Lender||Borrowing Amount||Loan Term Length||Interest Rate||Origination Fee?||Min Credit Score||Next Steps|
|$1K-$50K||3 or 5 years||8.16%-27.99%||Yes||620||Apply Now|
|$2K-$35K||3 or 5 years||6.95%-35.99% APR||Yes||640||Apply Now|
|$25K-$300K||3-7 years||0%-5% on first 9-15 months||Yes||680||Qualify Now|
If you’re a permanent resident of any of the countries listed in the Services Offered section, you can apply to launch a Kickstarter project, provided the following qualifications are met:
- You are 18 or older
- You are creating a project in your own name or on behalf of a registered legal entity with which you are affiliated
- You have an address, bank account, and government-issued ID based in the country in which you’re creating a project
- If running your project as an individual, the linked bank account must belong to you
- You have a major credit or debit card
Starting a project is quite straightforward. You begin the process on the website, where you choose a category and verify your eligibility. You can then enter some basic information about your campaign, set your rewards and shipping costs, add a video along with a detailed project description to establish your story, add some profile information with links to your social accounts, and confirm your identity.
Once you’ve submitted your project for review, you’ll either pass the automated check and be able to launch your campaign immediately, or you’ll have to wait up to three days to launch if your project gets flagged for additional scrutiny. Kickstarter estimates that about 80% of the projects submitted are accepted.
Sales & Advertising Transparency
Every step of the crowdfunding process, from the initial application to completion, is detailed on Kickstarter’s website in a very straightforward manner. Nothing feels sales-y or deceptive. As Kickstarter only earns fees on successfully completed fundraising campaigns, the company has little incentive to rope people into trying the platform who don’t already have a serious project in mind.
Customer Service & Technical Support
Kickstarter may be the 800-pound gorilla of the crowdfunding industry, but its level of customer support doesn’t really reflect that. The only way to get in touch with Kickstarter is to submit a support ticket and wait to be contacted via email. This doesn’t give project creators (or backers, for that matter) access to the quick support they may need in the event of a mishap. That said, the site can provide answers to the most common questions if you don’t mind tossing around some keywords until you find what you’re looking for.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
Some Kickstarter users have grown disillusioned at the direction the company has taken over recent years. A 2016 HuffPost article by Nathan Resnick titled “Why Kickstarter Is Corrupted” highlighted the effect that paid advertising, investor-backed campaigns, and crowdfunding agencies have had in sucking the air out of the room, giving an advantage to big players and moneyed interests in the crowdfunding process and leaving smaller creators and outfits — Kickstarter’s original target audience — at a distinct disadvantage.
Kickstarter isn’t currently accredited with the BBB, but it does have a profile on the watchdog site, where it currently rates an A- for failure to respond to a complaint filed against the business. Around 86 complaints have been closed in the last three years, 28 of them in the previous 12 months. Kickstarter also has an unusually bad Trustpilot rating of 1.3 out of 5.
Issues raised about Kickstarter include:
- Uneven Playing Field: With the emergence of paid advertising, investor-based campaigns, and crowdfunding agencies on the site, big players can have an enormous advantage compared to smaller operations.
- Unreliable Campaigns: The vast majority of Kickstarter complaints come from backers who either weren’t pleased with the outcome of the project in question or never received the promised items. While this isn’t necessarily an issue from the perspective of a business launching a project, it’s good to keep the challenges of the platform in mind.
- Funding Delays: Some project owners were frustrated by how long it took for Kickstarter to release their funds after a successful campaign.
- Poor Customer Support: Both customers and backers were frustrated by the difficulty of getting in touch with Kickstarter personnel.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
In a field such as crowdfunding, there is always going to be a significant element of risk. Most professional reviewers still give Kickstarter high marks, however, and the service remains extremely popular.
Benefits of using Kickstarter include:
- Good Approval Process: Kickstarter generally does a pretty good job of filtering out sketchier projects, reducing the risk to backers.
- Funds From Unsuccessful Projects Are Returned: Backers are only charged if the project is successfully funded.
- Media Outreach: Kickstarter’s media outreach is very effective, and the site gets a lot of unique visits. This increases the likelihood that your project will be seen.
Kickstarter sits atop the crowdfunding world, and the ways in which Kickstarter takes advantage of its position have led many to question its usefulness to the same small-time inventors and creatives that crowdfunding was supposed to benefit in the first place.
Nevertheless, it remains an excellent place to look if you have a dream you want to involve the creative community in, particularly if your project involves art, films, or games. Kickstarter is certainly an avenue worth pursuing if you have a project you think may pique the interest of hobbyists, geeks, and other creative types looking to involve themselves in the next big thing. Sure beats trying to get a bank loan!
To those naysayers who doubt the power of Kickstarter’s crowdfunding to change our lives for the better and give us all a vision of a more just, prosperous, and beautiful world, I present unto you the RompHim.
We are all blessed to bear witness to this era of history.
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