Who is Kickstarter for?

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The Veronica Mars and Zach Braff Kickstarter projects have generated a lot of headlines, a lot of fan excitement, and a lot of questions. Should famous people use Kickstarter? Do they hurt other creators? Is it fair? We’ve read a lot of opinions, and today we’d like to share our own.

Kickstarter’s mission is to help bring creative projects to life

That’s our mission. We’re a tool available to anyone (in the US and UK, currently) to fund and build a community around their creative project. Big or small, established or indie, serious or fun. Judged on their own, these two projects squarely fit our guidelines and our mission. But there have been concerns that they may hurt the system as a whole, depriving other projects of funds. What about that?

Projects bring new backers to other projects

The Veronica Mars and Zach Braff projects have brought tens of thousands of new people to Kickstarter. 63% of those people had never backed a project before. Thousands of them have since gone on to back other projects, with more than $400,000 pledged to 2,200 projects so far. Nearly 40% of that has gone to other film projects.

We’ve seen this happen before. Last year we wrote a post called Blockbuster Effects that detailed the same phenomenon in the Games and Comics categories. Two big projects brought tons of new people to Kickstarter who went on to back more than 1,000 other projects in the following weeks, pledging more than $1 million. Projects bring new backers to other projects. That supports our mission too.

We understand the anxieties about these projects

The world we live in is hyper-competitive and often pits us against each other. If someone is winning, someone else must be losing, right? But that’s not what we see happening on Kickstarter.

We see everyone getting to decide what projects they want to see come to life. We see more opportunity for creative freedom for everyone. We see more people participating in the creative process. We see more things getting made than ever before.

Kickstarter is a new way for creators to bring their projects to life. Not through commerce, charity, or investment — through a new model powered by a willing audience. The Veronica Mars and Zach Braff projects offered backers tickets to the premiere, cameos in the movie, access to the creative process, and other experiences in exchange for pledges. Fans were thrilled, and 100,000 people jumped on board.

Over a million people have backed more than one project on Kickstarter. Some have backed dozens and even hundreds. Together we’re building a new model for creating. One that all of us can participate in, and one that’s getting stronger every day.

    1. Daniel Morales on

      This is a great response. I love the way that KS approaches their site and think the flexibility is going to help create a lot of wonderful, different projects. I think it's also great that people get so up in arms about the direction KS is going. It shows that they care and that KS is doing something important. I wrote a little about it and Penny Arcade yesterday: http://kickwhat.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/this-kickstarter-project-isnt-for-you/

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      Karen on

      "Not through commerce, charity, or investment — through a new model powered by a willing audience."

      Willingly giving money to a cause while receiving little to no compensation is the very definition of CHARITY.

    3. Aaron Proctor on

      @Tom Savola: Much like the earlier criticisms here of Penny Arcade, asking for only "part" of the project funds under the pretense that those films will be made if the goal is met -- and then going back to another source once you've "secured" your funds and asking for more because "oh well, actually that was only enough for a crappy movie, not what we promised" -- is not right. Frankly, it is an abuse of the system.

      Kickstarter, from what I understand, is to raise funds to create a project. To market, as they did on their Kickstarter page, that $2 million is what they needed, and then to come back and say $5 million (almost 6) is actually NOT enough is kinda raw. Especially when they're sharing that with fans who thought their contribution made a difference.

      Read the Business Insider article in my previous comment. They're asking for money partly to fulfill promises made on Kickstarter. That doesn't bode well for their planning skills. Sounds like they asked for just enough so they would be guaranteed some money (aka not asking for the whole project budget and then getting $0).

    4. Tom Savola on

      @Aaron Proctor Again, they would have made the movie with the $2M target they set. No one has said they couldn't make the movie based on that initial goal. Explaining that they can do more with more money is the definition of a stretch goal. What exactly is being abused?

      I read the Business Insider article (as well as the HR links from that feature) and Rob Thomas never says what you claims he does. (And keep in mind that every project on Kickstarter uses some of the funds to fulfill their rewards. How exactly could they not?)

      Your conspiracy theory is that they posted a *$2M* target knowing they would get at least that much money. Who knew there would be even this much support? How evil do you think the VM folks are?

    5. Aaron Proctor on

      @Tom Savola: Rob Thomas posted such an update on the fan/donor private page at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/559914737/the-veronica-mars-movie-project/posts/446303. Since it's private, perhaps you couldn't see it, but here's the relevant quote from the Business Insider:

      "Show writer/director Rob Thomas posted an update to the project page on Kickstarter ... that they also still desperately need more funds."

      I think the point is begging for more money after the fact highlights poor planning.

      Perhaps this giant project -- with the ability to simply ask for more funds elsewhere -- should leave Kickstarter out of it and work to ask those other sources for such "finishing" funds.

    6. Pedro Serrano on

      Dear Kickstarter team,

      «We’re a tool available to anyone (in the US and UK, currently)» - Don't you feel you're loosing out on a big piece of the pie for Indiegogo? What are they doing right to be able to support international projects?


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      Greg Millier on

      This comment has been removed by Kickstarter.

    8. Alan De Smet on

      @Ber: There have been important updates in my interactions with Kickstarter; I am now satisfied with the situation and happy with Kickstarter. I've updated my original article with details: http://www.highprogrammer.com/alan/rants/kickstarter.html

    9. Jacqland on

      My issue with the PA arcade is what has been mentioned - by Kickstarter allowing a $10 projected budget, they have allowed Penny Arcade to use Kickstarter's name and reach with a flexible funding model (like indiegogo). I've never (and will never) back a project with flexible funding, because to me it shows that the creator is either unaware of the realities of a projects budget, or (as in PA's case) making a money grab.

      Does Kickstarter plan to allow more obviously "low-balled" project goals and introduce this form of flexible funding? If so, it just means I have one more "red flag" to look out for when browsing projects to back.

    10. Jacqland on

      @Alan: To me, based on the etsy shop linked, it looks like your wife's project is a violation of Hasbro's copyright (for the My Little Pony Plush toys). The pattern looks similar to that found on the toys available at Build-a-Bear, and the characters represented are obviously those from the show (I see Apple Bloom, Trixie, Scootaloo, and Big Mac, among others).

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      deleted on

      This user's account has been deleted.

    12. Allyson Condrath on

      NYC Dinner For One Comedy's feelings on the whole Zach Braff matter:


    13. David Gaipa

      I think that any project that brings a new set of people to kickstarter is good for the community. It can't hurt to get more eyes on this site to get more projects noticed and funded.


      In November 2011, this project launched: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jun/biochemies-dna-molecule-plush-dolls

      This project was picked up on a few blogs, nerd related sites and Engadget/Gizmodo. The project took off after being featured on Gizmodo and that brought lots of backers in. It seemed like a lot of backers for a cute little project.

      Fast forward to today and you see that many of those backers have gone on to back at least a few other projects. One backer signed up for Kickstarter to back that project and now has 529 backed projects in a "full wheel." That was me.

      Focus less on the drama of what a project is and just be happy that it brought someone new to the site. Who would have guessed that stuffed DNA base pairs would bring in someone that found a little bit of everything to back?

      There is no way that every new backer of every project will be like this. Even backing one or two projects beyond the one that got the backer to join the site is a big boost to the community. I have seen every combination of success, failure and delay at Kickstarter. Projects with 11 backers can fall behind while projects with 50K plus succeed and deliver. I doubt that most people realize the full range of what Kickstarter has to offer until they gaze upon it with their own eyes.

      I have a workshop that is built from Kickstarter projects and I expect that it will create a Kickstarter project one day. Stuffed DNA -> Massive "Full Wheel" Backer -> Potential Project Creator? Hey, it could happen. I felt honored when I read the Kickstarter year in review and knew that I was one of the few that backed more than "X" projects. Refresh the "Recently Launched" page and see what catches your eye. Watch the videos and laugh at the unique subculture of Kickstarter videos. Hundreds of projects delivered and hundreds more to come. This is going to be a fun year.

    14. Brad on

      Who is Kickstarter For?.... ME... no..wait.... EVERYONE! All of us here! Start a project you have nothing to lose, I did it, you can too! :)

    15. Alessandro Schiassi on

      Karen, it's still illegal giving a share of the profit for people pledging for it. As simple as that.

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      Tony Dalton on

      I have no problem with well-known using Kickstarter for their projects; however, don't be surprised if someone takes advantage of the system.

      I have a question to ask for the Kickstarter community. Last month, I had an idea to make a Disney board game for my wife as a surprise anniversary gift. I am NOT promoting this project. I just want to know if I can post something with the Disney name to Kickstarter if I have no intention of selling it without going through Disney first. Is it possible to use Kickstarter if I plan to present the game to a corporation? Thanks.

    17. Tony Go on

      I have always thought those massive projects have done well to bring new people to Kickstarter. Now, however, after just my first week on my own project, it's become clear that many of the users look at Kickstarter as a "pre-order" site. I've had backers tell me point blank that the only incentive they have in backing a project are the stretch goals and discounts -- nothing to do with helping get a personal creative endeavor off the floor. Not to mention that the "philanthropy of kickstarter has fizzled" according to those same users.

      As far as I can tell, while these big-name projects aren't exactly taking away funding and exposure from smaller projects, I believe they are setting a new standard and expectation that is difficult for individuals and small groups to meet. Obviously not everything that emerges from Kickstarter will be amazing and many generous backers have definitely been burned in the past, so one could probably just make an argument for the competitive market forces of Kickstarter as a funding platform being indicative of more generalized spending/investing habits.

    18. Piers Duruz | CrowdfundingDojo.com on

      Personally I really like Amanda Palmers take that it's hard (and ethically problematic) to draw a dividing line for just how rich / famous someone should be "allowed" to be before not being allowed to crowdfund.

      That said, as the mega projects get ever larger and more common, it does become more and more important for the overall system have built in, methods of helping the smaller players. For example, at the moment, to get many backers from Kickstarter itself (as opposed to sending people to Kickstarter from elsewhere) is mainly dependent on getting onto the "discover" pages. The trouble is that unless you're one of the few who get "Staff Pick" the only reall way to ensure you get there is to already be a popular project. On the other hand Indiegogo (while still highlighting staff picks in the rotating banner) have sections like "Recently launched" rather than just "Popular". This makes sure the causal person browsing the site, is more likely to see undiscovered gems than just showing the projects that are already popular. Yes, it means they're also more likely to see lower quality projects (or at least less popular ones), but that's where the balance between helping project creators, and potential backers is.

      Overall Kickstarter does a pretty decent job of balancing the ecosystem (the Staff Pick system while not perfect, does help). I would just be using some of the money from the mega projects to create systems that help the smaller projects too, rather than relying purely on trickle down pledges from new backers backing second projects.

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      Jiiub Rorgash on

      Kickstarter works with a free market ideal as i see it, projects gets money because someone WANTS to give it, so whats the freaking problem you got with other people giving away their money? :P

    20. Amy Leigh Strickland on

      People are hesitant to make an account to back projects for little things, but once they already have the account (say an account they made to pay for the Veronic Mars movie), they will be more willing to give small funds to other projects. It's like boiling a frog... (or at least, like the idiom).

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      Rick on

      I'd be more concerned about Kickstarters lack of clear guidelines. Every single point in the guidelines contradicts another, meaning your entire project hangs in limbo as to wheather or not the reviewer was having a crappy day and decides to give you an obscure excuse as to why your project isn't a project, even though it is. We're sharing our experience with a large tech blog as it certainly showed that if you dont have a 'hipster flare' about your project, your changes of getting approved appear to drop dramatically.

    22. Kate Ladenheim on

      It's not about whether or not they are ALLOWED to have kickstarters, or how many new users they bring in- it's about the fact that they don't need to crowdsource. Veronica Mars and Zach Braff already have tons of commercial and institutional support. The way I see it, Kickstarter and other crowd sourcing platforms are for people who don't necessarily have that financial support readily available. Using their celebrity for that gain is incredibly discouraging for artists (like myself) who are working extremely hard to generate grass roots support just to make their projects happen.

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      Cutter on

      Yeah, and what happens when big business jumps on board and floods out everything else? What about concepts like moral hazard? It was like that rich bitch who used KS to send her kid to camp and they let her which was obviously a fund my life project. You're going to see the little people who really need funding crowded out by the rich and famous showing up hat in hand pleading poverty when they don't have to. It's no risk to them. And while they may be permitted to do it I find it highly unethical. Maybe I should KS a new KS for people who actually need funding.

    24. Ben Hyde on

      @Cutter I saw the woman sending her kid to camp and she's done it again to send another of her kids to camp (I find that morally wrong) because it's the same story but replacing girl with boy with learning disabilities. That MIGHT be true but the expose of the backers against her made me not want to back her the first time and for her to do it again makes me think it's beyond unethical. I joined Kickstarter for Planetary Annihilation and then backed a few other projects since. I like to think I do my homework beforehand or if the idea is great. Didn't back PA cos I don't do pod casts, but also felt I read their web comic so I can see the appeal.

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      Crowdfundingguide on

      Interesting article regarding the topic - has anyone seen the Jon Lajoie "kickstarter" project mocking Zach Braff's video?


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      Brian De Palma on

      I don't see how a ZACH BRAFF in this model is allowed to pocket all the money. People are idiots to fund "their" projects, it's free money to them, with no obligation on Zach's part to do anything good with it. You just made a rich man a lot richer. I am done with KICKSTARTER AND ZACH BRAFF!

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      Brian De Palma on


    28. Fred Leggett on

      I suppose I'm in the (shrinking) minority who feel that KS is not-so-slowly abandoning their original intent of creating a mechanism whereby regular Jills and Joes could get a project funded without having to worry about it being blessed by a major company. That isn't to say I dislike million-plus dollar campaigns. Just that it's one thing for, say, a grass-roots indie game to be that wildly successful, but it's an entirely different animal for people already flush with money and industry connections (e.g., Kristen Bell and Zach Braff) to pull out pledge hats. I thought KS was created to bridge the gap between home-grown ideas and established business models, but it's morphing more and more into just another funding arm for already successful individuals and companies.

      How would people feel if, say, Sony or Microsoft began Kickstarters for the next gaming console? Or if Ford or Kia initiated campaigns for next year's car model? What's to stop Exxon or BP from starting a project to fund oil discovery? Heck, why not let the U.S. Government commence a campaign to pay down the national debt?

      These are extreme examples, but illustrate the point that the line should be drawn SOMEWHERE and that Kickstater should be a refuge and haven for the little guy and gal, not already-wealthy and established people and corporations. After all, isn't that why KS was started in the first place?

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      Allan Kardec on

      A few details from the Hollywood front. The studios are terribly restrictive about what they fund right now. Promotion costs for feature films are so high that the lower budget, possibly self funded, project really doesn't have the advantage (cost wise) that it seems it might have. Only the top of the food chain, and I mean the VERY top, can get a project approved by the studios. No one in the area of the ZB or VM projects qualifies as far as I can tell. Plus a lot of these people don't have the sort of money one might imagine!

      Loans are completely contingent on distribution contracts. Distribution is the difficult thing to get. These days the established players in the business control, conservatively, 80% of the eyeballs ... and, most of the time, you need that to get off to a productive start (ie. stay in the theaters or prove your worth on TV).

      The great advantage KS gives is not just raising money but proving, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there is an interested audience. That goes a long way toward getting distribution. On the OTHER hand, if a project fails at KS, I'm guessing that no one in Hollywood would touch it with a ten foot pole. That would, without huge changes in the package, be the the kiss of death.

    30. Dave Boyle on

      Ok, but how can an artist launch a project that doesn't have a title nor details (plot) about what it's about. Spike Lee is just relying on his name and previous work, not the project he's proposing.

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      deleted on

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    32. Raw420Films on

      Our campaign was filled with excitement even though we had a major goal failure. Trying to raise funds to go to post production and finish our concert documentary we started way back in 1988 with musical artists the Red Hot Chili Peppers entitled "are you authorized" Knowing that millions of fans worldwide is our audience for a finished DVD/Blueray" film production, with distribution in place, securing the rights and clearances, ready and go had we got the funding. Only four backers. After contacting all the major music news agencies, magazines, Twittering, and Facebooking to hundred of friends and fans, not to mention being plugged on the UK at the "Chili Source" fan based website. Only four backers, two friends, two from back east. With this project 25 years later, editing in 2006 to have it botched by the editor for her unknown reasons, then fail here, the masters have gone back into the vault. Millions of fans around the globe won't get to see this amazing film captured during their break through years. At least for now.

    33. Raw420Films on

      One more thing, Kickstarter blew new wind in our sales for our first project here with our Red Hot Chili Pepper documentary. Raw420Films discovered Kickstarter from Zach Braff in an online thread. We had no idea about crowd funding It was a blast, a lot of work. It took Raw420Films a whole month of creating our kickstarter project before we launched it. Not sure what to do as of now. We have no wind right now.

    34. Ricky Cox on

      It sucks that it's only for US and UK.

    35. DJ Comatose on

      heh kickstarter word up. but watch out now you may be the next target of haters and trolls. agree to disagree peeps it's okay to have a difference of an opinion without trying to force everybody to share it. just like freedom of speech nobody is forcing you to back anybody or even to turn your computer (or television) on or off. take a lil more responsibilty for the person you see in the mirror daily (hopefully you know which one i'm talking about). the world is a beautiful place if you choose to see it. how and whether anybody does is entirely dependent upon the individual. peace. :)

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      Rory Canavan on

      Guys, please look over the water (Irish Sea) to Ireland - their is an abundance of talent in all artistic avenues that would relish the opportunity to take their talents world-wide.

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