Happy 3rd Birthday, Kickstarter!

Share this post

Kickstarter celebrated its third birthday on Saturday. Three years is an exciting milestone (hooray!) but Kickstarter actually began long before.

Perry first had the idea for Kickstarter shortly after he moved to New Orleans in 2001. (He recently wrote about that experience on his blog.) Perry and I met after he moved back to Brooklyn in 2005, and we soon started working on the idea together. Perry was introduced to Charles through a mutual friend in 2007, and our founding team was complete.

While Charles and Perry were working on Kickstarter full-time — doing random side jobs to make money — I still had a day job. Progress was slow. None of us knew how to code. We made every mistake in the book. The site nearly didn't make it. 

Eventually things started turning around. We met Sunny Bates, who began advising us. We met Andy Baio, who helped us make sure we had the right technical plan. And in 2008 we hired three freelance developers, including Lance Ivy, who we ended up convincing to join the team all the way from Walla Walla, Washington.

On April 28, 2009, Kickstarter launched. It was six or seven years after Perry's initial idea, three-and-a-half years after I became involved, and two years after Charles. It was a long road. But sitting here almost seven years later, of course it was worth it.

To commemorate Kickstarter's third birthday, we dusted off old laptops and hard drives in search of artifacts from those early days. We've shared what we found below.

Some of it makes us laugh. Some of it makes us cringe. Some of it brings us back to when we didn't know whether Kickstarter would ever exist. It feels like a million years ago. We hope you enjoy it.

Designs (that never saw the light of day)

In October 2006, Perry completed Kickstarter's first design. Perry is not a designer — as you will see — but the vision for what Kickstarter would become was there from the beginning. The all-or-nothing goal, the deadline, the project video, the tiered rewards, "back this project," "backers," and page architecture are already present. And note the name — Kickstartr without an "e."


Here's a whiteboard sketch from Perry's apartment in March 2007:


Thankfully Charles had some Photoshop skills. He worked with freelance designer Chris Gardella to complete this version of the project page in the fall of 2007:


They designed a MySpace widget too (told you this was a long time ago):


We added the "e" to Kickstarter in the fall of 2008. The new name took some getting used to. Here's a version after the new vowel:


The designs were getting close. In early 2009 the project page was finalized. None of these designs saw the light of day until now.

The Launch

In February 2009 we shared a closed alpha version of the site with friends. On Tuesday, April 28, 2009, the site went live. Perry launched the first project — Grace Jones Does Not Give a F$#% T-Shirt (Limited Edition) — and I was the first backer. Perry and I launched another project that day with our friend Claudia called New York Makes a Book.

The first successfully funded project was on May 3, 2009. It was called Drawing for Dollars and it raised $35 from three backers, Perry included. It was a start! Three projects were successfully funded that first week. As of this writing, there have been 21,922 successfully funded projects since.

Thank you

Kickstarter has been lucky to have supportive people around it from the very beginning. Many people had a hand in what it has become: all our friends and families, all the people who launched projects, all the people who backed projects, and everyone who ever lent an ear. We can't thank you enough.

We also have to thank the incredible Kickstarter team. They're an amazing group of people. Here they are listed by when they joined:

2009 — Cassie Marketos and Fred Benenson

2010 — Andrew Cornett, Brett Camper, Cindy Au, Daniella Jaeger, Cedric Howe, Sam Cole, Kendel Ratley, Mike McGregor, and Justin Kazmark

2011 — Meaghan O’Connell, Tieg Zaharia, Elisabeth Holm, Jed Meade, Jared Cohen, Cooper Troxell, Nicole He, Aaron Suggs, Zack Sears, Stephanie Pereira, Aurora Thornhill, Callan Lamb, Jessica Harllee, Alex Cox, Chris Muccioli, and Andrew Boyajian

2012 — Dan Drabik, Brandon Williams, Tomasz Werner, Katherine Pan, Bridget Best, and Ayeh Bandeh-Ahmadi

Thanks guys! We wouldn't trade these years for anything, and we hope for many, many more to come. Thank you all so much!

Comments
    1. Missing avatar

      Florian Boesch on

      Hey, what happened to international support? You know, there's entrepreneurs outside the US too, just sayin.

    2. Missing avatar

      Brendan Zabarauskas on

      Awesome stuff guys, it's great to see how it evolved.

      And yes, it'd be awesome if you could open it up internationally. There are plenty of Aussies who'd love a kickstart too! :)

    3. Missing avatar

      benhurr89 on

      I would love for Kickstarter to allow projects outside the US.

    4. Kirk Love on

      Congratulations and Happy Anniversary. What an awesome vision and execution. Thanks for creating Kickstarter. It's amazing.

    5. Yancey Strickler
      Superbacker
      on

      Let's try to keep this on-topic, everyone.

      Kickstarter transactions are processed by Amazon Payments, which currently restricts the ability to start a project to people in the US. We will open up internationally in the future — hang in there!

    6. Craig Shapiro on

      Awesome post. Happy birthday!

    7. Chris Jones on

      Heck - off topic or not I'd love for Kickstarter to allow projects outside the US; and coming back to the topic - happy third....

    8. Hilary Pfeifer on

      Thank you all for all your amazing work! I am personally glad you added the e - the earlier version would have sounded out of date in a few years.

    9. Dan Vedda on

      Congratulations--not just for your birthday, but for having the persistence of vision to keep your concept in development--many "startups" today just have an idea and bail if it doesn't ignite immediately. You folks have a mission--and you prove your intent and validity every day. Well done.

    10. Pablo Ablanedo on

      Feliz Cumpleaños¡!¡!

    11. Heather Tilert on

      Congrats! So exciting to watch your community and movement grow over the past few years! Can't wait to see what else you guys have up your sleeves. And thanks for sharing early design drafts -- fascinating to see the evolution.

    12. Walter Jeffries on

      Happy birthday! It was well worth all those iterations on the design you did. What you've come up with really works well. Keep up the good work and may Kickstarter keep kicking!

      Cheers,

      Walter Jeffries
      Sugar Mountain Farm
      in Vermont
      Kickstarting at http://smf.me/k

    13. The Made on

      Thanks so much for making Kickstarter. Without you, http://www.themade.org would not exist!

    14. Egypt Urnash on

      I didn't know Kickstarter was conceived in my hometown! Cool.

      Thanks for making it happen. I'm doing my first campaign, as it happens - it just got funded last night, a day and a half after the launch, and I'm just so damn delighted to have a way to take all these book pre-orders without any hassle!

    15. Missing avatar

      deleted on

      This comment has been removed by Kickstarter.

    16. Joséantonio W. Danner on

      Happy Birthday Kickstarter!

    17. Andrew Hyde on

      Happy birthday!

    18. Brillist on

      Thanks for taking that idea and sticking with it. Happy birthday!

    19. Phil Simon on

      Thank you, Kickstarter! I funded my last two books ( www.theageoftheplatform.com & www.thenewsmall.com ) via your site and, more important, raised awareness. I am so happy for the growth of this company and can't wait to see whawt the future portends!

      Phil Simon

    20. Thierry Milard on

      It"s very interesting to see this.
      Usually founders tend to forget about the origin....
      The wonderfull design of kickstarter adds enormously to the interest of a new visitor.
      Kickstarter makes me, a normal salaryman from very far away (France, europe) a creativ guy was the pleasure of giving to creativ people.
      Long live kickstartr (old name yes) team

    21. Missing avatar

      Andrés on

      International support, please! ;)

    22. Chris Naeger on

      Hmm. Yes I know OT but Amazon Payments DOES exist at least in Germany and UK: https://payments.amazon.de/home
      Would love to see an international roll out! ... and happy birthday!

    23. Missing avatar

      Bastian on

      hey - is there a way to post a "funding-request" ?? i would really like to fund somebody build me a True-mirror (e.g. truemirror.com) but it seems there are none around - and the company neither produces any anymore nor ships international

    24. Rick Chesler on

      Happy 3rd, Kickstarter!

    25. Dan Rollman on

      Love this story, love Kickstarter. Congrats to all of you.

    26. Missing avatar

      deleted on

      This user's account has been deleted.

    27. The Dark Triad: Dragon's Death on

      Amazing and very inspiring! congratz guys, you are helping many people out there and making a better world, i'm pretty convinced of it!

    28. Fred Ybarra on

      A fellow rock climber was attacked by a swarm of bees (Africanized) along with his dog and both were killed . I have created an emergency cover that can be utilized while climbing or just hiking . Would my project be able to be funded through Kickstarter? funds for mass production and distribution,and I believe it can save lives of outdoorsman.

    29. Cameron Moll on

      Outstanding. Happy 3rd, Kickstarter peoples!

      P.S. Thank you mucho for adding the 'e'.

    30. Kermit O on

      I kinda like the 2007 version. Well, at least the "WHO" and "WHAT" sections being on the main page. How many people actually click the creator bios? Also, the general design is pretty cool, though the current logo (and the addition of the "e") is better.

    31. Missing avatar

      deleted on

      This user's account has been deleted.

    32. hotmumbo on

      Good one fellas and happy April Fools to you guys too lol

      Cheers

      Ian

    33. Marmæl
      Superbacker
      on

      Haha, I went for it hook, line and sinker. And wondered what kind of crazy AD's you had had turning your heads. Good one! :)

    34. Missing avatar

      deleted on

      This comment has been removed by Kickstarter.

    35. Missing avatar

      Namaku Keren on

      This comment has been removed by Kickstarter.

    36. Missing avatar

      Doa Ibu Tersayang on

      This comment has been removed by Kickstarter.

Line icon alert icon Artboard Copy 8 arrow-down icon arrow-down arrow-left icon arrow-left arrow-point-left icon Fill 1 Copy 5 arrow-point-right icon Fill 1 arrow-right icon arrow-right arrow-up-right icon icon--arrow-up-right copy bar-chart icon Artboard Copy 6 bell icon Combined Shape Copy 5 book icon Artboard Copy 3 bookmark icon Fill 1 brand-assets icon Artboard Copy 13 cart icon Artboard Copy 4 chat icon chat check icon Fill 1 Copy 6 circle-back icon Fill 1 Copy 13 circle-forward icon Fill 1 Copy 16 circle-k icon circle-k circle-left icon circle-left circle-right icon circle-right clipboard icon Artboard Copy 12 clock icon Combined Shape close icon close closed-caption icon Fill 1 compass icon Combined Shape Copy 2 conversion icon conversion delta-down icon Fill 1 delta-left icon delta-right icon Fill 1 delta-up icon Fill 1 duplicate icon duplicate embed icon Combined Shape Copy 6 eye icon Combined Shape Copy 12 facebook-contained icon Facebook Contained facebook icon Facebook logo flag icon Fill 1 Copy 3 gear icon Fill 1 Copy 14 global-africa icon Fill 1 Copy 9 global-america icon Fill 1 Copy 10 global-asia icon Fill 1 Copy 17 graph-bar icon Combined Shape Copy 9 graph-line icon Combined Shape Copy 16 heart icon Fill 1 Copy 8 help icon human icon icon--human icon--alarm icon icon--alarm icon--alert icon icon--alert icon--arrow-down icon icon--arrow-down icon--arrow-left icon icon--arrow-left icon--arrow-right icon icon--arrow-right icon--arrow-up-right icon icon--arrow-up-right icon--arrow-up icon icon--arrow-up icon--backer-badge icon icon--backer-badge icon--bell icon icon--bell icon--bolt icon icon--bolt icon--bookmark-outline icon icon--bookmark-outline icon--bookmark icon icon--bookmark icon--calculator icon icon--calculator icon--calendar-check icon icon--calendar-check icon--calendar icon icon--calendar icon--campaign-outline icon icon--campaign-outline icon--check icon icon--check icon--chevron-down icon icon--chevron-down icon--chevron-left icon icon--chevron-left icon--chevron-right icon icon--chevron-right icon--chevron-up icon icon--chevron-up icon--circle-around icon icon--circle-around icon--circle-back icon icon--circle-back icon--circle-forward icon icon--circle-forward icon--circle-loader icon Page 1 icon--circle icon icon--clipboard icon icon--clipboard icon--clock icon icon--clock icon--closed-caption icon icon--closed-caption icon--code icon icon--code icon--collapse icon icon--collapse icon--commissions icon icon--commissions icon--compass icon icon--compass icon--confirmation icon icon--confirmation icon--conversion icon icon-conversion icon--cpu icon icon--curve-right icon icon--curve-right icon--cross icon icon--cross icon--delta-down icon icon--delta-down icon--delta-left icon icon--delta-left icon--delta-right icon icon--delta-right icon--delta-up icon icon--delta-up icon--download icon icon--download icon--ellipsis icon icon--expand icon icon--expand icon--external icon icon--external icon--eye icon icon--eye icon--facebook icon icon--facebook icon--filter icon icon--filter icon--flag icon icon--flag icon--frown-filled icon icon--frown icon icon--gear icon icon--gear icon--globe-africa icon icon--globe-africa icon--globe-america icon icon--globe-america icon--globe-asia icon icon--globe-asia icon--graph-bar icon icon--graph-bar icon--graph-line icon icon--graph-line icon--happy-filled icon icon--happy icon icon--heart-outline icon icon--heart outline icon--heart-thin-outline icon Fill 1 icon--heart icon icon--heart icon--home icon icon--home icon--home-with-door icon icon--human icon icon--human icon--humans icon icon--humans icon--image icon icon--image icon--inbox icon icon--inbox icon--info icon icon--info icon--instagram icon icon/instagram icon--lightbulb icon icon--lightbulb icon--link icon icon--link icon--lock-black-bg icon lock-icon icon--lock icon icon--lock icon--mail icon icon--mail icon--meh-filled icon icon--meh icon icon--menu icon icon--menu icon--message icon icon--message icon--mobile icon icon--mobile icon--overflow icon icon--overflow icon--pause icon icon--pause icon--pencil icon icon--pencil icon--pin icon icon--pin icon--pinterest icon icon--pinterest icon--play icon icon--play icon--plus-human icon icon--plus-human icon--plus icon icon--plus icon--prohibit icon icon--prohibit icon--project-budget icon icon--pull-quote icon icon--pull-quote icon--question-filled icon icon--question-filled icon--question icon icon--question icon--reorder icon icon-reorder icon--reply icon icon--reply icon--save icon icon--save icon--saved icon icon--saved icon--search icon icon--search icon--section-break icon icon--section-break icon--small-k icon icon--sound-hi icon icon--sound-hi icon--sound-lo icon icon--sound-lo icon--sound-mute icon icon--sound-mute icon--star-outline icon Star Outline icon--star icon icon--star icon--subtitles-captions icon icon--subtitles-captions icon--text-bold icon icon--text-bold icon--text-bullet icon icon--text-bullet icon--text-italic icon icon--text-italic icon--textalign-centered icon icon--textalign-centered icon--textalign-right icon icon--textalign-right icon--thumbs-down icon icon--thumbs-down icon--thumbs-up icon icon--thumbs-up icon--thumbsdown-outline icon icon--thumbsdown-outline icon--thumbsup-outline icon icon--thumbsup-outline icon--trash icon icon--trash icon--tumblr icon icon--tumblr icon--twitter icon icon--twitter icon--unlink icon Artboard icon--unlock icon icon--unlock icon--update-freeform-round icon icon--update-freeform-round icon--update-freeform icon icon--update-freeform icon--update-pinned icon Artboard icon--update-qa-round icon icon--update-qa-round icon--update-qa icon icon--update-qa icon--upload icon icon--upload icon--video icon icon--video icon--youtube icon icon--youtube icon-imagealign-center icon icon-imagealign-center icon-imagealign-left icon icon-imagealign-left icon-imagealign-right icon icon-imagealign-right info icon Combined Shape Copy instagram icon instagram copy kickstarter icon Artboard Copy 5 leaf icon leaf lightbulb icon icon--lightbulb link icon Combined Shape Copy 8 loading-spin icon lock icon Combined Shape Copy 4 mail icon Combined Shape map-pin icon Fill 1 menu icon Group message icon Fill 1 Copy 12 mobile icon Page 1 Copy 2 pause icon pause copy pencil icon Combined Shape Copy 3 pin icon Combined Shape Copy 11 pinterest icon pinterest play icon play copy plus-human icon icon--plus-human plus icon Fill 1 Copy 7 question icon Combined Shape Copy 14 search icon Fill 1 Copy 11 shapeshift icon share icon Fill 1 Copy slash icon solid-arrow icon solid-arrow sound-hi icon Combined Shape sound-lo icon Combined Shape sound-mute icon Combined Shape star icon Fill 1 Copy 2 stopwatch icon Group 2 thumbs-up icon Shape tools icon Shape trash icon Combined Shape tumblr icon tumblr copy twitter icon twitter copy user icon Artboard Copy 10 volume-up icon Artboard Copy 9 warning icon Combined Shape Copy 10 write icon Artboard Copy 11 x icon Fill 1 Copy 4 youtube icon Combined Shape