Some parts of the project process are straightforward, and some present a new challenge or bring on a new experience. We asked ten Kickstarter project creators to respond to the same question:
What did you learn during your Kickstarter project?
Jacob Krupnick, Girl Walk//All Day: Naïveté can be a mighty gift. If I knew what sort of undertaking making a whole film would be, it would've been crushingly intimidating. Instead, I thought about the 577 people who backed Girl Walk and imagined a small village of people cheering us on, anticipating our finish line. Film #2 feels far scarier than film #1.
Lauren Krakauskas, Freaker USA: Kickstarter is bigger than just the money that you raise. The concept of building a community, of testing the markets, of using all the energy you have to see if “doing what you want” is a realistically profitable life-option… it’s incredible. Everybody has something.
Something they love. Something that excites them. What if somebody out there is into it? What if a lot of people out there are into it? Kickstarter is wildly important. It’s not just a funding platform, it’s a testing lab for a new way of living.
Jay Silver, MaKey MaKey: Too much to list. I learned what moves people. I learned that honey is not conductive, and neither is oil, but avocado and cat paws are, but hamster feet are more complex. I discovered that I used to want to live in the '60s when the revolution was happening, but I'm finding that it's coming back around, and I'm in the right era, gay marriage, brown president, legalized marijuana, government lies exposed, internet-catalyzed revolts, and I don't need any CEO's permission to launch an idea, just the crowd's.
My favorite lesson is that if you believe in people a little, they believe in themselves a lot.
Sam Jacoby, Form1: The people and community involved are the most important part of any product. We're always talking to our community, and Kickstarter really got that all started. Some of the folks on our team were our earliest Kickstarter backers.
Lisa Q. Fetterman, Nomiku: Your Kickstarter fans are forever fans. These are folks who believed in you from the very beginning and have a lot of insight into your company. Some will even last longer than our first employees!
Eric Kersman, BRCK: We learned that you need to prepare a good amount of multimedia materials and really test out your copy before you push a Kickstarter live. The week before we finally “published” our Kickstarter was a bit hectic as we were going through so many things so quickly. We spent quite a bit of time testing out our images and copy with friends, peers and would-be customers to ensure that what we were saying resonated with people immediately.
Coulter Lewis, Quinn Popcorn: We learned how to tell our story, how to connect to people, how to get others to feel the passion we have for this. On Kickstarter you have the attention of people who want to believe, who want help make something great come to life. That's a one of kind opportunity. If you can't connect to that audience then there's no hope when you are in the real word where it's all inferred, where you are lucky to get a customer to read one sentence of the back of your box.
Alex Blumberg, Planet Money T-Shirt: I learned that people really will support projects that capture their attention. I learned that putting together the most ambitious multimedia project in NPR's history is really exhausting, but also really fun. And I learned that the people who make our clothes are real, complicated individuals, with real nuanced ideas about the clothes they help bring into being.
Patrick O'Neill, Olloclip: [I learned] that the Kickstarter community is full of amazing people with great creativity. I have met so many of our original backers at events and just met one at SXSW [recently].
Millions of people from around the world have used Kickstarter to bring ideas to life. More than $1 billion has been pledged to restaurants, board games, documentaries, innovative technology, and much more.
We’re proud to have helped so many great things happen. We’re also constantly challenging ourselves to make Kickstarter even better.
Today we’re excited to announce two important changes that make Kickstarter easier to use than ever before — and improve a couple parts of the system we know haven't always been as simple as they could be.
We want creators to have the support and freedom they need when building their projects. That’s why we’re introducing a feature called Launch Now. It gives creators a simple choice: go ahead and launch your project whenever you’re ready, or get feedback from one of our Community Managers first.
Over the past five years, our Community Managers have offered their expertise to more than 100,000 creators — sharing advice, encouragement, and support to give creators the best chance of success. We love doing it, and we’re always here to help. But we’re pleased to offer creators a simpler process for sharing their projects with the world, and the flexibility to choose how much help they need.
We’re rolling out Launch Now in stages. It’s currently available to 60% of projects, and we’ll be expanding it to more projects in the weeks to come.
We’re also introducing dramatically simplified rules for Kickstarter projects. After taking a long hard look at every one of our guidelines, we boiled them down to three basic principles:
Projects must create something to share with others.
Projects must be honest and clearly presented.
Projects cannot fundraise for charity, offer financial incentives, or involve prohibited items.
These three rules highlight exactly what Kickstarter’s all about: making things, sharing them with others, and being honest with the people helping you do it. To see the rules in full, click here.
Some Common Questions and Answers
Were any rules added?
Nope. No new rules were added.
Were any rules removed?
Yes. Many changes were simple housekeeping — clearing out rules that didn’t feel necessary anymore. Others open Kickstarter up to new kinds of projects, including bath and beauty products and more types of software. And we’re now allowing hardware projects to offer multiple quantities of a reward.
How does Launch Now work?
The feature uses an algorithm incorporating thousands of data points to check whether a project is ready to launch — things like the project’s description, rewards, funding goal, and whether the creator has previously launched a project.
If the project qualifies for Launch Now, the creator can go live whenever they’re ready. If the creator wants to connect with someone at Kickstarter, we’ll review the project and offer our feedback and advice.
If a project doesn’t qualify for Launch Now, the creator will need to share the project with us for a review before it can launch.
If I choose to get feedback on my project, who will I be getting feedback from?
We have an enthusiastic team of Community Managers standing by to help. Each one specializes in one of Kickstarter’s categories — most are actually creators in their fields. They’ll offer tips and guidance, and do their best to set you up for success with your project.
So Kickstarter has actual human beings available to help?
Absolutely! We always have. We’ve dedicated a lot of time, love, and energy over the past five years to supporting creators and their projects. It’s a huge privilege to help people bring their ideas to life. Feel free to get in touch with us!
Anything else I should know?
The health and integrity of the system are our biggest priorities. Our Moderation and Trust & Safety teams are working every day to make sure everyone on Kickstarter is following the rules. And these streamlined rules still expect the same things from projects that we did on day one: make something to share with others, and be honest with the people around you.
We’re always looking for ways we can better serve creators, backers, and the public. That’s why we’re so happy to announce both of these changes — and make it a little simpler for more people, and more diverse ideas, to thrive on Kickstarter.
If you have feedback on today’s changes, we'd love to hear it. You can share your thoughts with us at email@example.com. Thanks so much for being a part of Kickstarter.
Danube Revisited is part road trip, part history project, and part creation of new work. The project will take nine photographers on a trip in a truck, retracing photographer Inge Morath's iconic journey down the Danube River. They will also bring with them an exhibition of Morath’s own photographs; in addition to this, they’ll collaborate with women artists along the way to generate new work.
The project came together when the awardees were in Austria showing work they’d created. The gallery’s founders, who knew Morath, told them stories of her journey and the genuine connections she’d fostered with her subjects. The group was also given Morath’s unpublished diaries. From here, the idea for a traveling gallery that would retrace the journey was born.
The artists are Olivia Arthur, Lurdes R. Basolí, Kathryn Cook, Mimi Chakarova, Jessica Dimmock, Claudia Guadarrama, Claire Martin, Emily Schiffer, and Ami Vitale. We talked with Arthur, Basolí, Martin, and Schiffer about the project, how it came to be, and what it aims to generate.
How did you come up with the idea for the project, and how has it evolved since?
Emily: The idea for the project began in 2012 when Lurdes, Olivia and I had a show together in Austria at the gallery that represents Inge Morath. We got along fabulously, and someone suggested that we teach workshops together. We were learning a lot about Inge from the gallery owners who knew her well, and we discovered that her Danube work was her favorite and most beloved project. We talked a lot about how the communities that Inge photographed didn't often have the opportunity to see her images in their exhibition form. We thought it would be really interesting to take Inge's images back to their origins, and to honor Inge's legacy by continuing her project. Somehow, the idea of converting a truck into a mobile gallery and going on an epic road trip emerged, and we decided to make it happen. We invited all of the Inge Morath award recipients to take part, and Claire Martin jumped on board to help with the project development, grant writing and coordination.
Lurdes: That’s the nice thing about meeting photographers you admire in person in the Facebook days — especially for photographers, since it is a quite lonely profession. You get a feeling, you share it, and though many ideas stay dreams, we trusted in the power of this collaboration since the beginning.
You are not only creating work, but also traveling with Inge's images. Is this, in a way, a history project?
Olivia: It is a legacy project really. It started out as an idea to honor Inge's name, as a sort of tribute for the help we had been given in her name. So in a way it is about extending someone's legacy on to the next generation. I know that at Magnum they created the Inge Morath Award because they felt that Inge was really supportive of younger photographers and wanted to add to that, so its about bringing something around, completing the circle.
Claire: Another aspect that incorporates a historical element into the project is the concept of the truck being able to return Inge’s photographs from before and after the fall of the Soviet Union to the same villiages that Inge photographed in, connecting the people of these places with their own history. The mobile nature of the exhibition also means that towns that otherwise may not have the opportunity to receive cultural projects of this scale are included.
Lurdes: Yes, historical on the truck exhibition element, but dialoguing with the present (by socialising it and by photographing the River again), so it is historical, but also contemporary. This is how we contribute to her legacy. Also dialoguing with local people, both general public, old (in the pics) and younger, and also with specific photography audience… All these interactions makes it quite special to us.
Emily: It’s been really exciting to read Inge’s diaries and to get to know her as a person. Ordinarily, when you win an award you don’t have the opportunity to connect with the person whose name it honors in such a personal way.
Had any of you done a collaboration of this scale before?
Olivia: We didn't even know each other before (and we were only in Salzburg for two days). The crazy thing is that even after two years of emails and calls, I have still not met Claire, so we all still have a lot to learn about each other. I think also none of us have worked on something of this scale before. We have learned a lot about how much work goes into such a project. Of course initially we had to consolidate our ideas, what was it that we actually wanted to do/would be able to pull off. We had four opinions in three different continents and it was a lot of to-and-fro — lots of different opinions and ideas and enthusiasm pulling the project in different directions, and eventually finding the right way.
Lurdes: I have been working on [an ongoing] massive group project of five photographers since 2010. It is an editorial assignment, but the basis is to make a documentary on a social issue in Europe. I am the only woman, [and] I can see great differences in the group dynamics and in the relationships between members now that I have been working for over two years with three other women. It is very interesting.
Emily: Despite the endless important details that we have to plan, our communication is amazing. We are all really committed to the project and to each other, and we’re willing to adapt our ideas to benefit the greater good of the project.
I’ve spent the past three years working on a collaborative public art project in Chicago called SEE POTENTIAL (also launched via Kickstarter). That has been a lot to coordinate, but doesn’t have nearly as many logistics to plan as this project does.
Can you talk about the importance of women artists supporting one another?
Claire: It’s my understanding that Magnum Created the Inge Morath Award in part because they were all so touched by her in their work and lives within the collective, but also as the first female member of an agency that still today is near 90% male. Hopefully an award in her name, for women, would act as an effort on the agency’s part to diminish its gender bias. All the Inge Morath Award winners involved in this project have benefitted greatly in our careers from this award and we want to give back. We hope to to break the narrative of the male perspective by creating a project that celebrates a woman's point of view. One of our goals has always been that this is a project by women, for women and in the legacy of a pioneering woman.
Lurdes: We are supporting each other and female documentary photography, but we are [also] giving a key importance to local photographers, which is the way we refer to all these photographers living in the Danubian countries we are hoping to join during our roadtrip and that will be part of the final show.
Emily: Women—particularly female photographers who travel frequently—feel that they must choose between their career and having a family. We work in a field that is dominated by men, so often women feel as though they have to downplay the aspects of their lives that are different from their male counterparts. It’s quite the opposite with us. This plays out in small ways (such as the group tolerating a screaming toddler during Skype calls) and larger ways (such as making it possible for the mothers in our group to bring their children along on the journey, and hiring a babysitter so they can go off on their own when they want to).
What part makes you the most nervous? The most excited?
Olivia: Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the volume of work that goes into pulling all of this together. It has been a good lesson for me of coordinating with others because as photographers we are somehow always working alone or as an individual within something. This was and is really collaborative and that is both exciting and daunting. we will, no doubt, have a lot of opinions to share when we get on the road.
Claire: The collaborations—between all of us, locals, institutions, sponsors and project partners—are what makes it so great, but also so volatile. With so many people involved, there are so many opinions, so many objectives to appease, so many big misses and big wins, changes of plans and shedules to accommodate, but this in it’s essence is also what makes it such a dynamic project. It’s been a thrill to work on something like this. The nerves are the result of taking risks to achieve something big and deeply rewarding.
Emily: I worry about how my one-year-old daughter will handle the travel, and about whether it is fair to separate her from her father for so much time. I am most excited to shoot and participate in the critique of our new work as it’s being created. I think the dialogue we will have about our images will push or work to new levels.
Lurdes: Since it is my first time with such a big collaborative project and coordinating it without much experience—what has made me nervous is having to follow or push people, institutions, partners, etc. At the beginning it was fine, but as work increased, it has been quite hard sometimes since we all have our own daily work. What excites me the most is to put the gallery-truck on the road and to finally meet all these girls and share photography live, not through a screen anymore.
Claire: Yes, to get away from the computer is the most exciting thing!