What Is Kickstarter and What Do People Use It for?

All About the Creative Crowdfunding Platform That's Taken the Web by Storm

Crowdfunding
Photo © Igor Kisselev / Getty Images

Modern technology and the social web has opened up a lot of possibilities for entrepreneurs and creative people. Kickstarter is a platform that’s been growing fast in popularity and making business opportunities possible for those ambitious enough to get started.

Kickstarter in a Nutshell

Put simply, Kickstarter is a funding platform where creators can share and gather interest on a particular creative project they'd like to launch.

It's entirely driven by crowdfunding, meaning that the general public (and their money) is what sends these projects into production. Every project is independently crafted while friends, fans and total strangers offer to fund them in return for rewards or the finished product itself.

Creators can set up a page to display all the details of their project and prototypes using text, video and photos to tell viewers about it. Project creators set a funding goal and a deadline, plus different levels of rewards funders can receive by pledging specific amounts. (The more they pledge, the bigger the reward.)

Once enough people have funded the project by pledging a small or large amount of money to meet the creators' goal by the deadline, development and production of those projects can be carried out. Depending on the complexity of the project, backers who pledged money may have to wait months before they receive or get access to the finished the product.

Starting a Kickstarter Project

Although Kickstarter is a great platform for exposure, not everyone gets their projects approved. To start, every creator needs to review the Project Guidelines before submitting a project. About 75 percent of projects make it through while the remaining 25 percent get rejected usually because they don’t comply with the guidelines.

Projects don’t just have to fall into the technology category, although many often do. Kickstarter is a place for creators of all kinds — including filmmakers, artists, musicians, designers, writers, illustrators, explorers, curators, performers and other creative individuals with great ideas.

Kickstarter’s 'All or Nothing' Rule

A creator can only collect the funds if the funding goal has been reached by the deadline. If the goal is not reached in time, no money changes hands.

Kickstarter has put this rule in place to minimize the risk for everyone. If a project can’t generate enough funds and is stuck trying to deliver to current funders when there wasn’t money raised, it can be tough on everyone, but creators can always try again at a later time.

All Funders Have the Opportunity to Receive Rewards

Kickstarter requires its creators to offer some kind of reward to their funders, no matter how simple or elaborate. When people fund a project, they can choose one of the predetermined funding amounts that the creators have laid out.

Once a project has successfully reached its goal funding amount, it is entirely up to the creators to send out surveys or any other information requesting funder details like name, address, T-shirt size, color preference or whatever else is necessarily needed.

From there, creators will send out the rewards.

All Kickstarter pages have an “Estimated Delivery Date” section to specify when you can expect to receive your rewards as a backer. It can take several months before anything is delivered if the reward is the product itself.

Backing a Project

Pledging money to a project is easy. All you have to do is click the green “Back this Project” button on any project page of your choice. Funders are then asked to select an amount and a reward. All your information gets filled out through Amazon’s checkout system.

Credit cards are never charged until after the deadline for the project has passed.

If the project doesn’t reach its funding goal, your credit card is never charged. Whatever the outcome, Kickstarter sends all backers an email right after the project end date.

Browsing Projects

Browsing through projects has never been easier. You can simply select the “Discover” button at the top of the Kickstarter page to see staff picks, projects that have been popular for the past week, recently successful projects, or projects based close to your location.

You can also take a look through the categories if there’s a particular type of project you’re looking for. Categories include art, comics, crafts, dance, design, fashion, film & video, food, games, journalism, music, photography, publishing, technology and theater.

So go ahead and start browsing through all the interesting projects on this great platform. Maybe you'll be inspired enough to back one or start a campaign of your own for a project you have in mind!