CEO Perry Chen and friends Charles Adler and Yancey Stickler launched Kickstarter in New York City a little more than three years ago.
Chen came up with a rough idea for the site in 2001 when he considered promoting a concert in New Orleans but could not get financial backing for it. He was not sure what sort of response the event would get if he sponsored it himself and could not afford to lose money, so the idea was scrapped.
Stickler and Adler also noted issues with artists, musicians and other creative people finding funding to launch projects, and worked with Chen to launch a site that would help creative people gauge interest in their ideas, which eventually became Kickstarter.
Kickstarter has specific guidelines that creators must live up to, the company spokesman, Kazmark, said, but it is ultimately up to backers on the site to determine worthiness and validity of projects.
Aside from creators being required to "create an economy" around their projects via pledge rewards they agree to deliver to backers, Kickstarter requires that all campaigns are all-or-nothing regardless of whether they are active for one day or the maximum 60 days allowed on the site.
"For the backers, it creates this narrative arc with a sense of urgency to push it past the finish line," Kazmark said. "As the project moves toward deadline, if it's short, backers push it forward."
Kickstarter is now the largest crowdfunding platform in the world for creative projects, Kazmark said. It has led to the successful funding of nearly 30,200 projects, with a combined total of $370 million pledged to projects, according to the most recent company statistics.
Risk of overfunding
Andrew Hyde is no stranger to new, creative ideas, thanks his role as host and curator of the annual TEDx Boulder event, which features a series of talks, performances or demonstrations on various topics. This year's event was held Sept. 22.
Hyde is very familiar with Kickstarter. He has a personal relationship with Chen, the company's CEO, and has launched two successful campaigns on the site himself.
In April 2011 he launched a project called Record Monsters, for which Hyde and a few friends produced laser-cut vintage vinyl records that could be broken apart into pieces and then assembled into three-dimensional animal models.
"As far as for artists, it's a fantastic thing to use," Hyde said of Kickstarter, noting that one of the most common issues he has seen for art projects is overfunding to the point where a project gets too big for its originator, as almost was the case with Record Monsters.
"I think Boulder as a whole hasn't really latched onto (Kickstarter) as it should," Hyde said. "I would view Boulder as an art scene really developing and trying to figure out how to support itself long-term. It seems very fringe. I would view (Kickstarter) as a way for it to become more sustainable."
One recent Boulder Kickstarter project Hyde said he was particularly fond of is SoundPuddle.
SoundPuddle is an interactive environment that merges audio and visual stimulation through the use of a thousands of solar-powered LED lights and an electronics board that picks up sound and translates it into a visual display channeled through those lights.
The installation's LED bands form a dome that, with a parachute draped over it, creates an interactive virtual environment in which all sounds picked up by its microphone create a corresponding spectral color pattern, according to its creators.
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