I discovered Kickstarter a couple months ago and have since supported four projects that I really liked. Two of which I just found today and spawned the idea for this post. For anyone not familiar; Kickstarter is a website that uses crowd-funding to provide small scale venture capital for projects. They call themselves the “World’s largest funding platform for creative projects.” I call it, a place where I can find cool and unique stuff and support small entrepreneurs. Anyone can start a project as long as they follow the Kickstarter policies; no, “send me to college” or “buy me a car” projects. It’s a place where inventors, musicians, actors, artists, writers, or simply people with an idea can raise funds- generally in return for some sort of “prize.” Prizes start with a “thanks” and progress to include the actual product, or special limited edition versions.
Kickstarter gives real and honest feedback from the market on the likelihood of a product to succeed. This is the part of Kickstarter that I like the most. It is an incredible platform for people to test the market and gauge interest without going out and spending tons of money on inventing something. Small scale entrepreneurship is the life blood of the American economy and a key to Generation Y overcoming this massive burden of government debt, returning jobs to the middle class, and if not shattering- then at least weakening the traditional corporate American paradigm of the 90s and 2000s. Our generation was born with the world literally at our finger tips, with access to people in neighboring states, countries, and continents, and sites like Kickstarter are leveraging this to create a platform that epitomizes free market capitalism at its finest.
So- now that I’ve gotten that out of my system here are a couple awesome projects I’ve seen that are ongoing and I think you should take a look at.
1. Sunski sunglasses – 1,213 backers, Raised: $54,855 vs. Goal: $9,800 , 13 days to go
Rudy* being the absolute master of sunglasses and I his young Padawan, you could say amongst our crew there is a certain affinity for wearing outrageous sunglasses at abnormal times. Rudy is in fact a member of the “Stunner of the Month Club,” providing him a new pair of shades monthly in the mail. These Sunski sunglasses are based off vintage Australian shades that haven’t been made in 25 years. Check this quote out from the two project managers”We absolutely hate how expensive it is to get really nice sunglasses these days, so we’re going to make Sunski’s different… Operating outside the corporate sunglasses market we can avoid the brand inflation, ridiculous markups, and middlemen.” Fantastic.
2. Mason Jar Cocktail Shaker – 155 backers- Raised: 5,062 vs. Goal: $5,000- 28 days to go*
This one is especially near and dear to my heart because the two strapping young gentlemen from Virginia are friends of mine. Josh and Eric create a extremely simple and elegantly cool cocktail shaker that reminds you of your southern roots, no matter where you may rest your head. I can’t believe I haven’t seen something like this at Williams Sonoma- if you’re reading this guys I thought this up!
*When I started this post about 12 hours ago they’d raised $1,500… now they’ve met their goal and have 28 days left! Congrats guys!
3. Lumi Process: 2,922 Backers- Raised $211,680 vs. Goal: $50,000- 5 days to go
This is definitely one of the most original ideas I’ve seen on Kickstarter, and that says something. This project allows people to take a photo with their iphone, turn that into a print, and put that print quite simply onto natural fabrics. Clearly the types of things that can be done with this process are multifarious. Clothing, art, and furniture all come to mind right off the bat but I bet there are all kinds of other things that people more creative than myself will surely think up with this product.
There are tons of really ingenious fixes to small but annoying problems on Kickstarter- but this is my current favorite. Ever attempted to use your phone to listen to music on a ihome player and then your phone rings? Then your Star Wars themed ring tone starts getting played through the speakers and everyone stops what they’re doing to see WTF is going on? Or perhaps you’d actually like to keep listening to music while you use your phone to send a text or check to see when the next metro is coming, but don’t want to ruin the vibe by stopping the music? This little device uses bluetooth to run music off your iphone without you having to have your iphone plugged into the dock. One of those, “Can’t believe I didn’t come up with that,” type inventions.
5. Solid Titanium Pen + Stylus– 2,399 backers- Raised: $199,440 vs. Goal: $30,000- 21 days to go
I had to add this one just because of the numbers… $200k raised for a PEN! This production team’s goal was $30k and this project clearly drew more attention than expected. Yet, the idea resonates. This beautifully crafted titanium pen can fit dozens of different types of pens inside of its shell, and can also be used as a stylus. It looks sturdy, well designed, and is multifunctional.
If you can’t tell I sort of like Kickstarter. I haven’t really dug into any of the artsy stuff on there though. It just seems less appealing to me. Nonetheless, there are people looking for funding for documentaries, books, concerts, comics, movies, and games who may have an idea that resonates with you so check it out.