Emily Tan
Mar 26, 2014

Community, ideas and stories: Kickstarter's Yancey Strickler

SALT LAKE CITY - In the five years since its creation, Kickstarter has raised more than $1 billion on projects to send objects into space, build gadgets and make films Hollywood wouldn't fund. Here, from an address at the Adobe Summit, is what founder Yancey Strickler says he's learnt.

Stricker: Fans got a movie made that Hollywood refused
Stricker: Fans got a movie made that Hollywood refused

People are amazing and ideas are exhilarating

It sounds corny, but it does fit the body of work that's been funded on Kickstarter, ranging from multi-million dollar films to squirrel census projects. How else does one explain the creation of the Veronica Mars movie. When the TV series was cancelled due to low ratings in 2007, its core group of fans were devastated. "They sent Mars bars to TV execs, they signed petitions...but the series was never revived," said Strickler.

When series writer Rob Thomas and its star, Kristen Bell floated the idea of making a movie, Hollywood kept saying 'no'. "So they put a project on Kickstarter. In 10 hours, they had raised $2 million and in the end raised a total of $6 million. The movie has been premiered and is available for download on iTunes," says Strickler.

Community is not a euphemism for consumer

It's not about a massive power or corporation providing what they believe people should want, said Strickler. "It's a huge community of people who want to shape the world into what they want."

Not all projects on Kickstarter make a lot of sense or take a lot of people. Only 386 people funded the first civilian spacesuit, and 102 people funded Atlanta's first squirrel census.

On the other end of the spectrum, 68,929 people funded Pebble, a project venture capitalists rejected, because they (the community) wanted it to exist, he said.

Or it's about a need. After the Tsunami hit Japan, residents around Fukushima found that Geiger counters were too expensive for individuals to own, and they had to rely on the government to tell them which areas were safe to live in. So citizen scientists looked into it, and funded by a Kickstarter created an open-source Geiger counter that could be made very cheaply. 

The community loves transparency and storytelling

The creators of Pebble were completely transparent about the process of getting it made, showing it being built in the factory and sharing their challenges. "When I wear my Pebble on my wrist, it's not just a watch. It's a story I'm proud of. And this is core to what makes this successful," said Strickler.

Because people have been part of the funding process, they're part of the story and the more of the story they know, the more they relate.

"It's become a trend on Kickstarer," he said. "When Double Fine released a 45 second teaser of their video game, it came with a 10 min video on how it's made. Part of the draw is teach me how to do it. Maybe I can make a video game!"

See also: Crowdfunding's potential as a marketing tool


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