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The Kings of Kickstarter

Sailun Tires

For those of you who haven’t heard of Kickstarter… Who am I kidding, we’ve all heard of Kickstarter, and half of us have probably thought about running our own campaign.  It’s the dawn of a new, demand driven world and it’s slowly (in some places quickly) wiping out the top down model of financier controlled science, art and business and replacing it with awareness campaigns, promises of fan service, and the concept of letting someone order your product before you’ve even built it.
Kickstarter is a game-changer the way we think of fire and the printing press and penicillin as game changers, and it’s helping a lot of forward thinkers get ahead of the financial traps that have ensnared innovators since the invention of money. We’re still in uncharted territory here, but it’s nice to know some guys are coming out of it on the other side.



Zach Braff

Project:  Feature Film : Wish I was Here

Cash raised : $3,105,473.00


Much hay has been made about wealthy celebrities muscling in on the “indie” spirit of crowdfunding, but Braff left no doubt in anybody’s mind that the market will more than happily support projects from established artists.  The campaign ran in the spring of 2013 and went 50% past their original goal, and it also put Braff and his team directly into the driver’s seat, making them beholden to absolutely no one save their artistic muses, which is pretty much the opposite of Hollywood. Hat’s off Mr. Braff., we hope the picture turns out.


Video Games

Kickstarter: Tim Schafer/Double Fine Studios

Project: Double Fine Adventure/Broken Age

Cash Raised: $3,336,371.00


It’s one hell of a successful thing to meet your Kickstarter goals, but to raise just South of 3 million more than you were after, that’s something else entirely.  Tim Schafer had a reputation for making cute, clever and well received, but basically niche games for a niche market, and wanted to make a game no money man in his right (that is, confined) mind would fund.  So he took to it with an super clever, self-depreciating, so-hip-it-bleeds video and the rest is Kickstarter history. The double lesson learned here is “know your audience intimately” and “already be an indie superstar”. Easy right?



Kickstarter: Formlabs

Project: An affordable, professional 3D Printer

Cash Raised: $2,945,885
I don’t know if “L’Enfant Terrible” and MIT are two ideas that can go hand in hand, but it’s pretty clear that the team at Formlabs had something in mind that was a game-changer from the get-go. There’s a substantial list of 3D printer projects Kickstarter launched last year, but this one, in terms of scope, talent assembled, and of course success, takes the cake. Swagger has already written about what the age of 3D printers means to households and society in general, but these guys weren’t at all satisfied to leave it to the future and put on a wildly successful campaign to set up manufacturing for their product. Just think of the things you won’t have to buy at the hardware store if you could just whip them up at your computer table. This is only the first generation of “Replicators” for the masses, but it’s got “Revolution” written all over it.



Kickstarter: Bonaverde Coffee Changers

Project: World’s First Roast-Grind-Brew Coffee

Cash Raised: $681,461.00


Here’s what I know, I know that coffee beans are the second most traded commodity on earth, behind crude oil alone. I also know that if I don’t get a few cups a day, I’m libel to drive my car into a bus full of senior citizens just because some grandma looked at me funny from the second deck. One more thing, the jump in quality between fresh roasted beans and the stuff you get at your local Starbucks is precisely the same difference between Freddy Mercury and William Hung. So when Bonaverde came up with an idea for a machine that would turn a green bean into a cup of joe before your very eyes, I was ready to throw my money out of my moving vehicle just on the off chance they might find some of it over in Germany. The Kickstarter video and accompanying artwork was completely sharp, the ecological and economic ideals they espouse are inspiring, but they had me at hello.



Kickstarter: Amanda Palmer

Project : A record/artbook/tour

Cash Raised: $1,192,793


For a gal who makes no bones about crashing on her fan’s couch after a gig, she sure raised a lot of dough. Amanda Palmer is high in the running for coolest person on the planet, whether it’s lighting up the best TED talk ever, shedding record labels like they were poison, or selling sold out shows by straight up word of mouth, she’s something else. So when she put out the Kickstarter call for support and offered up vinyl, VIP passes, artbooks, and even personalized sharpie art, her legion-esque supporters answered the call.  Maybe she’s a “seat-of-your-pants” genius, maybe she’s the most clever capitalist in the world, what she’s not is boring (or poor, after this one).




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