Happy 3rd Birthday, Kickstarter!

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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!

    1. Missing avatar

      Florian Boesch on April 30, 2012

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

    2. Missing avatar

      Brendan Zabarauskas on April 30, 2012

      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 April 30, 2012

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

    4. Kirk Love on April 30, 2012

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

    5. Yancey Strickler
      on April 30, 2012

      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 April 30, 2012

      Awesome post. Happy birthday!

    7. Chris Jones on April 30, 2012

      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 April 30, 2012

      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 April 30, 2012

      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 April 30, 2012

      Feliz Cumpleaños¡!¡!

    11. Heather Tilert on April 30, 2012

      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 April 30, 2012

      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!


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

    13. The Made on April 30, 2012

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

    14. Egypt Urnash on April 30, 2012

      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

      John Pratt (deleted) on April 30, 2012

      This comment has been removed by Kickstarter.

    16. Joséantonio W. Danner on April 30, 2012

      Happy Birthday Kickstarter!

    17. Andrew Hyde on May 1, 2012

      Happy birthday!

    18. Brillist on May 1, 2012

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

    19. Phil Simon on May 1, 2012

      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 on May 1, 2012

      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 May 1, 2012

      International support, please! ;)

    22. Chris Naeger on May 1, 2012

      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 May 1, 2012

      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 May 1, 2012

      Happy 3rd, Kickstarter!

    25. Dan Rollman on May 14, 2012

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

    26. Missing avatar

      Ahmed Elnaji (deleted) on May 24, 2012

      I am just new here!I will discover the thing !

    27. The Dark Triad: Dragon's Death on January 8, 2013

      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 August 4, 2013

      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 October 9, 2013

      Outstanding. Happy 3rd, Kickstarter peoples!

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

    30. Kermit O on October 9, 2013

      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. Cubtab on October 9, 2013

      It's so awesome to see how you guys started. Gives some perspective for us who are just starting out!

    32. hotmumbo on April 1, 2014

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



    33. Marmæl
      on April 2, 2014

      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

      zyt123 (deleted) on July 11, 2015

      This comment has been removed by Kickstarter.

    35. Missing avatar

      Namaku Keren on October 20, 2015

      This comment has been removed by Kickstarter.

    36. Missing avatar

      Doa Ibu Tersayang on October 23, 2015

      This comment has been removed by Kickstarter.