Had he had a rich uncle, things might have turned out differently . . . .
That Perry Chen had no wealthy benefactor to call upon is something for which we could not be more grateful here in our studio in Saunderstown, Rhode Island.
It was 2002 and, in New Orleans, Perry’s dream of hosting a concert during the city’s annual JazzFest could not be realized, the projected $20,000 cost proving prohibitive.
“I realized that there was an underlying problem that needed a solution,” he recalls. “Money has always been a huge barrier to creativity. We all have lots of ideas that we’d like to see get off the ground, but unless you have a rich uncle, you’re not always able to embrace them. [I wanted to] find out if people were willing to commit to an event and even fund it to manage the risk involved. [I just felt] there was this need for creative people to raise funds for their projects.”
Having stewed upon this for the next three years, Perry’s dreams were realized in 2005 when, in collaboration with a friend called Yancey Strickler, he put his plans into practice.
The pair called their project Kickstarter.
Fast forward to 2012 – a decade since Perry’s initial brainwave – and Kickstarter has been a tremendous success.
The world’s largest funding platform for creative projects, Kickstarter, in a nutshell, helps artists, designers and inventors to raise the resources required to bring their ideas to life and to realize their dreams.
Some call it crowd funding, others micro-patronage but the truth is that this is about more than the dollars and cents alone . . . .
You see, this is about like-minded individuals coming together, this is about common cause, a socio-cultural movement in its own right.
Boil it down and Kickstarter is rooted in connection. Such things are important to us here at OM HQ.
“People are pre-ordering your idea,” explains Craig Mod, an author and publisher who can count a successful Kickstarter campaign amongst his achievements. “Sure, they’re getting something tangible – a CD, a book or a movie – but, more than that, they’re pledging money because they believe in you, the creator.”
In Perry’s words, “There are a lot of beneficial effects [beyond the fund-raising] like the building of a community around an idea and the connection of people to it.”
This appeals to us a great deal here in our studio, where our own Kickstarter campaign (there are nine days remaining in our quest to raise $30,000) is going great.
Put the cash to one side, we love the fact that, almost as a by-product, this creative community has been formed . . . .
One that has seen 61,000 projects launched and more than $220m raised.
Most receive modest amounts – relatively, that is – of $10,000 or less.
Others are backed beyond belief, the Pebble E-Paper Watch, for instance, holding the record having received pledges totalling $10m. Its creators had sought just $100,000.
That’s the thing about dreams: they’re unpredictable, but they’re also there to be realized.
It doesn’t matter if you want to convert an old bus into a mobile Thai restaurant, take photographs in all 50 of the United States or populate the world with OMs . . . .
Those of a creative persuasion no longer need a rich uncle.
That’s Perry’s genius and his gift to us all, benefactors and beneficiaries alike.
“You do get a warm, fuzzy feeling from helping someone out,” admits Katie Williams, from Hanover, MD, a serial pledger and Kickstarter convert. “At the end of the day, I’m not going to miss five dollars or so, but that five dollars might help someone to meet their life goals.”
That’s our dream – to meet our life goals – and with more than $11,000 pledged thus far, we’re confident we can succeed. If we make it, we’ll owe a great deal to Perry and his vision. Even if we don’t, we’ll have nothing but admiration for a man who has altered our outlook and ambition forever.
To that man, the final word, for Perry’s musings are much more meaningful than our own . . . .
“We’d like [Kickstarter] to be a fundamental tool for the liberation or acceleration of our own creativity,” he adds. “I think that, when we’re younger, we have ideas all the time. We embrace our ideas and we say, ‘I’m going to do this’. You have not yet been taught the realities of life, that you can’t do this because of this, that and the other. Very often, that other thing is money.
“Over time, because of the constraints, with money being the biggest one, we start to squash down our ideas. We don’t have to squash down our ideas because of the harsh realities of the world [and] from a very emotional level, that’s the dream. I think we’re able to offer people the ability to overcome that one core roadblock – the funding – and then additionally allow people to build this community and nurture an audience around a project. I think that’s what this is all about. This is our dream.”
This is our dream too, a dream that we hope to realize over the coming days.
Please visit our official Kickstarter page and help us to overcome the roadblock that stands in our path, because squashing down ideas isn’t in our plans.
Here’s to Perry, here’s to Kickstarter and here’s to that creative community . . . .