It’s time to Kickstarter your life

Steve Dinneen
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CROWD FUNDING is the latest buzz-word in Silicon Valley, with entrepreneurs and mad scientists alike asking the public for micro-investments of a few dollars (or a few thousand) to fund the production of their projects. Kickstarter is the reigning king of the sector, with thousands of companies raising funds through its website. Public investments are rewarded based on their value, ranging from company equity or profit-share schemes to signed merchandise and one-of-a-kind perks. Companies are asked to pitch for a specific target. If they reach it through donations, they get to keep the lot, plus any surplus. If they fall short, they get nothing (a bit like Dragons’ Den). Now it is set to launch in the UK. We take a look at some of the site’s biggest successes.

Double Fine Productions
Raised: $3.3m

The niche games producer has already raised over $3m to develop a new point-and-click adventure called Double Fine Adventure. Double Fine Productions is led by legendary games creator Tim Schafer, whose previous projects include Psychonauts and Brutal Legend.

Pebble Technology
Raised: $10.3m

Pebble had initially aimed to raise around $100,000 for its smart-watch but became an internet sensation after attracting a staggering $10m of funding, $1m of which came in the first 24 hours. The Pebble is an email-connected watch that allows joggers to check their inbox without digging around for their mobile phone.

Amanda Palmer
Raised: $1.2m

The former Dresden Dolls singer, who has had a strained relationship with record labels, funded a record through the site by asking fans to contribute to its production by pre-ordering it. Nearly 25,000 obliged, making her one of the most successful artists on the site. The venture raises interesting possibilities for musicians to bypass traditional labels and get their music straight to fans.

Raised: $51,000

Spike had the same problem a lot of us suffer from: love the iPhone, hate typing on it. So it set itself a Kickstarter target of $78,000 to manufacture a clip-on keyboard from its prototype. It is currently just $27,000 short and looks set to hit its target.

Ministry of Supply
Raised: $320,000

Shirtmaker Ministry of Supply became the most successful fashion company on Kickstarter after breaking its target for its sweat-proof shirts. Its fabric uses NASA technology to manage heat and moisture, keeping you cool all day long and preventing odours.

David Lynch Documentary
Raised: $180,000

A group of filmmakers needed an extra push to complete their documentary about David Lynch. Fans of the enigmatic director helped push the project well over its target. Donations of over $10,000 will receive a signed print by Lynch himself and tickets to a film festival with the production team.

The Girl Who Would Be King
Raised: $15,000

Kelly Thompson failed to get her novel about teenaged super-heroines printed by a traditional publishing house but thanks to Kickstarter it will now undergo at least one print run. Donating more unlocks extra rewards, including bookmarks, stickers, original sketches of the heroines and signed copies of the book.

Raised: $313,000

This handheld piece of kitchenware promises to turn any household pot into a “sous vide” thermal immersion heater, used to cook melt-in-the-mouth meat and vegetables. It has already broken through its $200,000 target and hopes to begin shipping its product in March next year. Three spots remain for $10,000 donations, which bestows a meal for 10 people cooked by the manufacturers.

The Order of the Stick
Raised: $1.25m

Indie comic The Order of the Stick has smashed its $57,750 target to reprint past copies of its fantasy-based strips. Those pledging funding receive different perks, dependent on how much they pledge, ranging from fridge magnets for $10 to a walk-on cameo in the comic for $5,000.


And some not so successful ones...

Please Love Me comedy show
“Henrietta” wanted to raise $6,000 to fund her comedy show, Please Love Me. Alas the comedian, whose poster is printed above, failed to get a single backer, proving that crowd funding isn’t a guaranteed source of income.

Virtual World Online
Crowd funding and virtual online communities seem like natural partners but they don’t necessarily mix. Virtual World Online set itself a target of $75,000 to create a digital world “even better than reality”. It got $2.

I Love You Mom T-shirt
Nothing says “I love you” like a cheaply produced T-shirt printed in Comic Sans, right? Alas, this project couldn’t even reach its measly target of just $120. Mothers everywhere can breathe a sigh of relief.

Exchange food board game
Healthy eating is big. Board games are big. Healthy eating board games: not so much. The Exchange game failed to attract a single backer for its food-based time-waster. $12,000 was a little ambitious.