2010 was a record-setting year on Kickstarter. Thousands of projects funded, hundreds of thousands of videos watched, and millions of dollars pledged. In 2010 alone the number of new projects per day quadrupled — every day the site was flooded with more amazing explorations of creativity, more great stories of people doing extraordinary things.
It was also the year of the blockbuster. In 2009 Kickstarter’s largest project was Designing Obama, Scott Thomas’ exploration of the Obama campaign’s design, which raised a remarkable $85,000. But by the end of 2010, Thomas’ project ranked just eighth on the Kickstarter leaderboard. In May the open-source social networking project Diaspora topped $200,000; in October the film Blue Like Jazz hit $350,000; and in December the juggernaut that was the TikTok just missed $1,000,000.
Those are the headlines, but there are many more interesting statistics to investigate. Let’s take a look.
Kickstarter 2010 Statistics:
Total Successfully Funded Projects: 3,910
Total Dollars Pledged: $27,638,318
Total Pledges: 386,373
Total Rewards Selected: 322,526
Total Pageviews: 50,234,521
Total Visits: 15,766,248
Total Visitors: 8,294,183
What can we say about TikTok that hasn’t already been said? Well, for starters, it broke every record in Kickstarter history — most funds raised ($941,718), most backers (13,512), most popular reward, most comments, most money raised in one day, and so on and so forth.
And while that’s all well and good, the story behind the project is even more interesting. Scott Wilson is an extremely accomplished designer who had been working for major companies (Nike, Microsoft, Sony) for years — and even he had trouble getting his creations made. The TikTok wasn’t just about the product; its success was also tied to the experience of folks banding together to support a really exciting idea — and share in the bragging rights.
Yes, the TikTok was a smashing success but it was hardly pre-ordained. The day the project launched, at least two other iPod Nano watch bands hit retail shelves across the land. But what separated the TikTok was not only the sophisticated design but the story behind it. Like the films, records, and art projects that are typical Kickstarter fare, the TikTok was ultimately a narrative of creation, and Kickstarter’s largest to-date at that.
Most Implausibly Funded in the Last Hour: Jens Pulver | Driven by Gregory Bayne
We were thrilled by filmmaker Gregory Bayne’s never-give-up approach to funding his passion project, a documentary on the legendary mixed martial arts fighter Jens Pulver, and we watched with bated breath as he pulled in over $12,000 in the project’s final four days — 80% of which were individual contributions of $25 or less. We’ve already crowed about Gregory’s incredible accomplishment before, but his singular drive and total commitment to his project have won him a deserved place among our hall-of-famers.
Most Prolific Backer: Lewis Winter
Lewis Winter is one of Kickstarter’s most prolific backers, having backed 179 projects since 2009. We know why we love backing projects, but we were dying to know more about what motivates Lewis. He was kind enough to share his thoughts about his experiences as a backer, and how his own interest in becoming a patron of the arts ended up converging with Kickstarter.
What was the first Kickstarter project you ever backed, and why?
I heard about the site and thought it sounded interesting. The first project I backed was Allison Weiss’s EP, which was featured on the front page. I think that project captured a lot of what Kickstarter was about at that time, including the excitement of something new.
Did you consciously set out to support a lot of projects, or was this something that just sort of happened?
I think I had already been looking for something like Kickstarter without quite realizing it. I like micropatronage, I like supporting creative endeavours, and I like buying stuff, so it makes for a pretty strong combination. So it was kind of both; I’d already been interested in commissioning art, and Kickstarter came along and made that really easy.
What is it about a particular project that makes you decide to click that big green “Back This Project” button?
First and foremost, I’m pulled in by an idea that interests me. The quicker and clearer the heart of the project is communicated, the more likely that is to happen.
Second, I’m looking at the project creator themself. How well they understand their idea, how passionate about it they are, if they’ve set themself an achievable goal; things like that. Basically… how likely is this to go anywhere if it’s funded?
Third, I look for a reward I’m interested in. That affects the amount I pledge, but if the first two things are there I might just pledge a little bit to help the project anyway.
None of these are deal breakers though. If I like an idea, OR a project creator, OR a reward enough any one of those things could get me to back a project.
If you had to name one (or 2 or 3) of the favorite projects you’ve backed so far, what would it be?
I tend to gravitate toward documentaries (that accounts for about a third of the projects I’ve backed), but my favorite projects are usually in the visual arts. My three favorite projects so far have been Jamie Tanner’s graphic novel, Emily Grenader’s Giant Crowd Painting, and Janeen McCrae’s My Best Khaki Pants.
Any cool/notable/fun rewards you’ve received since you started backing projects?
One of the cool rewards for me has been discovering new music I like through Kickstarter: Allison Weiss, Sxip Shirey, Sgt Dunbar & the Hobo Banned, and Balthrop, Alabama (amongst others).
My favorite reward is the illustrations I received for backing Jamie Tanner’s project. One was the original art for The Squid that got turned into the last panel of the October ‘09 Kickstarter comic. The other was a portrait of me, which is something cool that I’ve never had before. The idea of patron portraits being taken out of the sixteenth century tickled me.
Most Prolific Updater: Bicycle Portraits by Stan Engelbrecht and Nic Grobler
Stan Engelbrecht and Nic Grobler have been documenting South Africa’s bicycle culture for the past year, snapping colorful photos and collecting stories from riders about who they are, why they ride, and why they love bicycles. Their project Bicycle Portraits collected those photos and stories into a gorgeous hardcover book that attracted hundreds of backers and led to a whopping 108 updates overflowing with portraits and snippets about their subjects, thus turning the project into an art and culture blog in itself. The duo went on to complete a sequel project this year as well, and look out for Part III in 2011!
Most Prolific Creator: Greg Stolze
In 2010, Greg Stolze launched nine Kickstarter projects -– eight stories and one roleplaying game. Six were successful, one is currently still live, and one did not reach its goal. Stolze, who has let backers into the editorial process, said of his efforts, “I think I’ve worked up some momentum, so I’d be a fool to start disappointing people now.” Nice work, Greg!See more Kickstarter award winners here.