Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects. Everything from films, games, and music to art, design, and technology. Kickstarter is full of ambitious, innovative, and imaginative ideas that are brought to life through the direct support of others.
How does Kickstarter work?
Thousands of creative projects are funding on Kickstarter at any given moment. Each project is independently created and crafted by the person behind it. The filmmakers, musicians, artists, and designers you see on Kickstarter have complete control and responsibility over their projects. They spend weeks building their project pages, shooting their videos, and brainstorming what rewards to offer backers. When they're ready, creators launch their project and share it with their community.
Every project creator sets their project's funding goal and deadline. If people like the project, they can pledge money to make it happen. If the project succeeds in reaching its funding goal, all backers' credit cards are charged when time expires. If the project falls short, no one is charged. Funding on Kickstarter is all-or-nothing.
Why do people back projects?
A lot of backers are rallying around their friends' projects. Some are supporting people they've long admired. Many are just inspired by a new idea. Others are inspired by a project's rewards — a copy of what's being made, a limited edition, or a custom experience related to the project.
Backing a project is more than just giving someone money. It's supporting their dream to create something that they want to see exist in the world.
Do backers get ownership or equity in the projects they fund?
No. Project creators keep 100% ownership of their work. Kickstarter cannot be used to offer financial returns or equity, or to solicit loans.
Some projects that are funded on Kickstarter may go on to make money, but backers are supporting projects to help them come to life, not to financially profit.
Can Kickstarter be used to fund anything?
We allow creative projects in the worlds of Art, Comics, Crafts, Dance, Design, Fashion, Film & Video, Food, Games, Journalism, Music, Photography, Publishing, Technology, and Theater.
Everything on Kickstarter must be a project. A project has a clear goal, like making an album, a book, or a work of art. A project will eventually be completed, and something will be produced by it.
Kickstarter does not allow projects to fundraise for charity or offer financial incentives. Check out our rules for details.
Who is responsible for completing a project as promised?
It's the project creator's responsibility to complete their project. Kickstarter is not involved in the development of the projects themselves.
Kickstarter does not guarantee projects or investigate a creator's ability to complete their project. On Kickstarter, backers ultimately decide the validity and worthiness of a project by whether they decide to fund it.
How does Kickstarter make money?
If a project is successfully funded, Kickstarter applies a 5% fee to the funds collected. All pledges are processed securely by our third-party payments partner, Stripe. These payment processing fees work out to roughly 3-5%. View the fee breakdowns.
If the project does not reach its funding goal, there are no fees.
Where can I find basic information on Kickstarter the company?
Kickstarter launched on April 28, 2009. We are an independent company of 120 people based in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
Since our launch on April 28, 2009, over $1.9 billion has been pledged by more than 9.2 million people, funding more than 90,000 creative projects. If you like stats, there's lots more here.
“I was living in New Orleans in late 2001 and I wanted to bring a pair of DJs down to play a show during the 2002 Jazz Fest. I found a great venue and reached out to their management, but in the end the show never happened—it was just too much money. Read more
The fact that the potential audience had no say in this decision stuck uncomfortably in my brain. I thought: “What if people could go to a site and pledge to buy tickets for a show? And if enough money was pledged they would be charged and the show would happen. If not, it wouldn't.”
I loved the idea, but I was focused on making music, not starting an internet company. Yet slowly over the next few years I started to work on the idea more and more. In the spring of 2005 I moved back to NYC, knowing it would be much more possible there.
Once back in New York, I started to try and tackle the next steps: Who would be able to build the website? How much it would cost? Where could I get money? I talked to a bunch of folks and I learned a ton. I planned and planned.
In the fall of 2005, I met Yancey Strickler, and we became fast friends. Yancey soon joined me in brainstorming. We bought a whiteboard. We had big dreams. I convinced some friends to give us a little bit of money. At some point I made this rough design of the site. Clearly we needed more help.
About a year later, I was introduced to Charles Adler, through an old friend. The day after we were introduced, Charles came over to my apartment and he and I started working together almost every day. After months and months of collaboration, we ended up with wireframes and specifications for the site.
But none of us could code. We had a few false starts hiring people to build the site. There were months where not much happened. Charles moved to San Francisco and took some part-time freelance work. Yancey was still at his day job. We had this money from our friends and not much was happening. It was emotionally draining.
In the summer of 2008 things finally started to move again. I was introduced to Andy Baio, who, though he was living in Portland, joined our team as an adviser. Soon after, Charles and Andy found a few developers — including Lance Ivy all the way in Walla Walla, Washington. We were a scattered team that lived through Skype and email (Charles had moved again, this time to Chicago), but we were finally building — even as the economy started to collapse.
Finally, on April 28, 2009, we launched Kickstarter to the public. We told as many friends as possible, and Andy announced it on his awesome blog Waxy.org. Projects trickled in. Yancey jumped into gear to handle all the new emails from people actually using (or wanting to use) Kickstarter. It was amazing! You cannot imagine how excited we all were.
There are so many projects that defined the early days. Designing Obama, Robin Writes a Book, and Mysterious Letters were all landmarks. Filmmakers took their natural-born hustle and wrapped it around our template. People stepped up to support projects over and over again. It was thrilling. And then one day we even had an office. In January 2010, nine months after we launched, we moved into a tenement building in the Lower East Side of Manhattan along with Cassie Marketos and Fred Benenson, our two new hires.
But before all that, three weeks after Kickstarter launched, a young singer-songwriter from Athens, GA, launched a project to fund her album, Allison Weiss was Right All Along. Allison was using Kickstarter in the exact way we had always dreamed. Her album was funded in one day. She did a Skype chat with the backer that put her over her goal and posted it for all to see. This was the moment Kickstarter was truly alive.”
Charles Adler is a co-founder of Kickstarter. Charles served as Kickstarter's Head of Design through fall 2013. He now serves as an advisor. Prior to Kickstarter, Charles co-founded the online art publication Subsystence as well as Source-ID, an independent interaction design studio.
Perry Chen is the Creator and Chairman of Kickstarter. He served as Kickstarter's CEO through 2013. Perry grew up in New York City and lived in New Orleans for eight years, where he worked on music and had the idea for Kickstarter. He also co-founded Southfirst gallery in Brooklyn, NY in 2001.
Yancey Strickler is co-founder and CEO of Kickstarter. Yancey served as Kickstarter's Head of Community and Head of Communications before becoming CEO. Prior to Kickstarter, Yancey was a music journalist whose writing appeared in The Village Voice, New York magazine, Pitchfork, and other publications.
“Kickstarter is an incredible platform. Its obvious purpose is funding, but we find ourselves gaining so much outside of collecting pledges. For us, Kickstarter has been a powerful tool to connect with a community passionate about our work.”
Jesse Genet, Project creator
Lumi: A New Textile Printing Technology
“It’s a way for every creative person to control their destiny.”
Brian Fargo, Project creator
Kickstarter-funded art works have been exhibited at MoMA, the Whitney Biennial, the Kennedy Center, the Walker Art Center, the Smithsonian, and the American Folk Art Museum.
Roughly 10% of the films accepted by the 2012 Sundance, Tribeca, and South by Southwest film festivals were funded on Kickstarter.
Six Kickstarter-funded films have been nominated for Academy Awards. One of them, Inocente came away with an Oscar in 2013.
Amanda Palmer's Kickstarter-funded album debuted in the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 chart in 2012.
At least a dozen projects have launched objects into space.
Explore some of our favorite projects and moments in The Best of Kickstarter 2014
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