Kickstarter is the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects. The company was founded in 2009 and through the website, individuals or businesses are able to raise money via crowd funding. Basically, as long as you have a fundraising idea, Kickstarter provides the tools you need to bring your project to fruition.
The website has connected entrepreneurs with financial backers on a diverse array of endeavors including: charities, indie films, music, stage shows and comics, video video games, and food-related projects–among hundreds of others. A person or group of people create an event, product, or service and advertise it on Kickstarter, then regular people can donate money—as little as one dollar, or as high as you can imagine. Once the project reaches its dollar-amount goal, the people who invested will receive thanks, maybe a t-shirt, the initial product their funds helped create, or perhaps even dinner with its inventor.
This community based encouragement system has sparked innovation and creativity worldwide. By helping people gather money from the public, this service offers anyone with a imaginative new idea the opportunity to circumvent traditional avenues of seeking out investment—which can be tedious and time consuming— without struggling to come up with the money needed to kick start a project.
Project creators choose a deadline and a minimum income goal, and if this goal isn’t met by the deadline—no funds are collected. In this way, the system still requires creators to market their idea by producing interesting commercials and speaking about why their idea is necessary, interesting—or worth the $5,000 they’re asking for.
In 2012, over two million people pledged a total of $319,786,629 and successfully funded a little over eighteen thousand projects. That means that, on average, backers were pledging about $606.76 per minute, and seventeen projects raised $1million or more.
In this article, I want to focus on two projects that struck me as particularly remarkable and unique. Neither are tangible products, but both are life changing for their creators. The first venture is called Friend Request: Accepted—by photographer Ty Morin, and the second is called Twinsters (combining the words twin and sisters) started by Samantha Futerman.
Friend Request: Accepted
Ty Morin, a Connecticut based photographer, is setting out to locate and get to know every single one of his Facebook friends… all 788 of them. He will spend the next few years traveling all over the world, seeking out his “friends” and photographing them doing something they are passionate about—while filming the entire process.
Morin states that at least half of those 788 people, he’s never even spoken to, so this project will give him the chance to connect and reconnect with people. Rather than hiding behind the computer screens, he will be using social media effectively to make genuine real-life, human connections.
His idea isn’t to just gather people together for a group photo—rather he wants to sit down with each individual person and be witness to his or her passion, whether that is a project, piece of music, artistic endeavor, or new baby. He will be using a vintage 8×10 camera so each portrait will take about an hour to complete. This method will be frustrating Morin admits, but it will give him a chance to spend time with the people he’s meeting.
Morin initially set a $5,000 goal to be used towards film, darkroom chemicals, travel expenses, transportation, and fuel. He enticed big spenders to pledge $5,000 or more by stating that he will personally add the backer on Facebook, and show up to take his or her portrait with his camera—so this backer would appear in the film, receive a copy of it, and have their name in the credits. Someone took the bait. Two people pledged $500 or more—another two pledged $250 or more, and so on.
The deadline to pledge came and went. By March 26, when people were no longer able to contribute, Morin had raised $14,166—almost ten thousand dollars more than he had planned to receive. Morin promises each backer his or her name in his film, which will be completed sometime within the next 5 years.
On February 21, 2013, Samantha Futerman, an actor living in LA, received a private message via Facebook from a random stranger, Anais Bordier. Little did Samantha know that reading the message would dramatically change her life.
Anais, a French fashion design student living in London, noticed a very familiar face starting back at her from a YouTube video she had watched featuring Samantha. Her friends pestered her about the resemblance, but without access to a name or any other information, Anais left it to coincidence and lived her life, but with a lingering curiously always there in the back of her mind.
Earlier this year, however, when the film 21 and Over hit theaters, featuring Samantha again, Anais could no longer leave the phenomenon unexplored. This actress shared an identical, carbon copy or her face—and after a few late night social media stalking sessions, the young French girl—born on November 19, 1987 and adopted shortly after—read the same exact story on Samantha’s Facebook page. Both girls were born in Seoul, South Korea—on the same day in the same year—and both adopted out to different families. Once Anais realized that it was possible that Samantha was her biological twin sister, she reached out to her via Twitter and Facebook.
The girls have been communicating via Skype, Facebook,Twitter, etc. for months now, and their goal is to create a full-length documentary that follows both girls as they prepare to meet in person for the first time. They will document their unique experiences through a series of blogs, video journal posts, and digital conversations. They hope to hire a film and production crew to follow them as they travel through Europe and the United States learning about each other’s different countries and meeting one another’s families.
They also hope to raise enough money to conduct a DNA test in order to officially confirm their relationship—although both girls say they already know the truth in their hearts and have created a bond unlike any other they’ve ever had.
With 854 backers, the girls have surpassed their initial request for $30,000 by over five thousand dollars—and they still have 13 days in their campaign. Some incentives the girls are offering their supporters include digital downloads of the completed film, t-shirts designed by Anais, tickets to the premiere in either LA or London followed by dinner with the twins, and even executive producer credits!
Once again, I am amazed and astounded by social media’s ability to bring communities and individuals together. Whether you are starting a project using Kickstarter, or helping someone’s dreams come true—this service is one of the most innovative tools ever designed.
As an individual or businessperson, you can take an idea from its infancy and watch it become a reality. Kickstarter is the best friend of entrepreneurs and creative souls all over the world.
Let this link lead you to more amazing Kickstarter projects, inspiring stories, and fun marketing ideas.
By Sasha Novikov
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