When Projects Explode

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Four days ago, Meaghan O’Connell and Melissa Gira Grant launched Coming & Crying, a project seeking $3,000 to publish a book of essays about sex. Within 48 hours, they hadn’t just reached their goal — they had doubled it. Today they have nearly 200 backers and more than $6,700 in funding. How?

Projects can explode for any number of reasons. When Allison Weiss launched her project, she reached her $2,000 goal in just ten hours. The response was completely unexpected. Case in point: before Allison’s project, we had never showed funding percentages over 100%. The idea that projects might be so rapturously received was wishful thinking.

When a project finds immediate success it’s due to either of two things: 1) there’s a reward that lots of people want or 2) there’s an enormous network for the creator to tap into. In the case of Coming & Crying, it was both. Meaghan and Melissa are both beloved writers with huge followings (Meaghan is Ms. Tumblr), and their rewards are excellent: $15 gets you a copy of the finished book and access to their backer-only blog — whose updates to date have been excellent and cleverly advertised on Twitter and Tumblr (lots of references to “our top-secret Kickstarter blog”). The incentives for supporting them are clear.

In the case of a project like Stuffer — which raised a mind-blowing $34,000 in its first week on the site — it’s all about the network. The creator, Jake Silbermann, is an actor who’s had regular roles on Guiding Light and As the World Turns, and he’s tapped into a huge network of supporters to fund his project. Scroll through his backer list and you’ll find very few folks who have supported other Kickstarter projects. They came to support Jake, either as friends, colleagues, or fans. Jake has done an excellent job of using Kickstarter to monetize his network and get his film off the ground.

The 8static project is another great example. A Philadelphia-based party celebrating 8-bit music, the project reached its $2,000 funding goal in its first 24 hours by tapping into the extensive 8-bit network that’s found its way onto Kickstarter through projects like Kind of Bloop and the Blip Festival. For $10 backers received an exclusive 8-bit compilation and the satisfaction of seeing a unique event preserved. And for backers who lived in Philadelphia — of which there are many — there was the added pleasure of supporting a local endeavor.

The importance of networks and rewards aren’t unique to fast-starting projects like these — all successful projects depend on both. These projects simply reveal the perfect storms that can erupt when done right. Congrats to all of them.

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