Kickstarter: Making Creative Dreams a Reality

Funding, Buzz and Marketing Inspiration

A few weeks ago I received an email from a dear friend in Michigan asking me to spread the word about an important documentary that needed basic funding and support. Having lived in Mexico, this video deeply moved me to action, with a personal pledge for this project.

But the process didn’t stop there. Within the same week I received the same link from my pastor here in DC who personally knew the filmmaker. Clearly the power of buzz was working for this grassroots film.


Kickstarter is an online company that helps anyone with an idea get a creative project off the ground. The idea is simple:  you submit your creative project concept and the funding you need to take the next step. For some (such as the project above) final production funding is needed. For others, it is the backing to start a project. Kickstarter’s success is undeniable – in two years they have been the conduit to funding for 20,000 projects at $53 million ($40 million collected).

The power of Kickstarter, however, is greater than even these impressive finding numbers. The platform is open to anyone with an idea or dream. There is no need for a formal company, backing, or businesses plan. What I find especially insightful are the success characteristics that get some projects funded and others not:

  • Success depends on good marketing. The idea must be compelling, authentic and unique in order to attract the attention of visitors. This forces the focus on effective communication of the dream/project in a way that connects with an audience.
  • Success depends on the vote of the marketplace. Kickstarter is based on an all or nothing funding model. You post how much you need by what date. If you reach your goal, each supporter is charged for his or her pledge. If not, no one invests.  This form of crowdsourcing ensures that you have a real market beyond a few friends and family.
  • Supporters are invested both financially and personally. I became an avid follower of Virginia Wolf’s project above. I spread the word to my networks and I cheered on the progress of the funding.  This process creates “customer evangelists” (to borrow a phrase from this book) the — best sales team possible.
  • Kickstarter’s design is great. Their website and emails are attractive fun and intrinsically interactive.  It is a great site for inspiration on how to create authentic engagement.

So, if you are looking for a way to get that creative project off the ground – or if you are just looking for some creative inspiration – check out Kickstarter.

Have you used Kickstarter?  Share in the comments section below.

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