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Raising seed money with Kickstarter

I’m a big fan of Kickstarter, the funding network for creative projects. It’s packed with innovative, fun and ambitious projects, all waiting for financial support to get them off the ground.

I’ve been a member of the community for six-months or so and while I haven’t used it to raise money for a project, I have backed a weather balloon that travelled to near space, a 6ft low cost cardboard robot arm,  and most recently a press that mints paper coins embedded with seeds.

Head over to the community web site and have a look for yourself. At any point in time people are raising funds for projects as diverse as books, events, films, magazines, sculpture and technology products.

Each project builds a page on the site and sets its own funding goal and deadline. If members of the community like the project they can pledge cash, typically $10 to $1,000, to make it happen.

Backers have the opportunity to participate in the  project, or receive a limited edition of the end product, depending on the level of their financial support.

The community has an all-or-nothing funding strategy.

If a funding goal for a project isn’t reached within the deadline then no one is charged. Kickstarter believes that this motivates peoples to get involved and share projects that they like.

It seems to work. I got involved because a friend wrote about a project on Facebook.

This isn’t equity backing but you could use it as a means of funding a proof of concept. Each project must have a clear goal and the project creator retains all intellectual property.

70,000 projects have been pitched since Kickstarter launched from its office in Lower East Side, New York in 2009. More than 40 per cent of projects have been funded.

Kickstarter launched in the UK in October. There isn’t a dedicated UK site but you can access UK projects from the homepage and transact in sterling rather than dollars.

I’ve had mixed results from the six projects that I have backed. All have been fully funded but several have missed their deadlines and communication has frequently been poor. Be warned.

But the highlight has been a project called Seed money: coins you can plant.

This is a project from Leaf Cutter designs based in Oakland, California, that manufactured biodegradable paper coins with embedded seeds. The project raised four times its target of $10,000.

I have just received a roll of 50 pennies containing wild flowers that I’m going to release next time I’m out and about in an urban environment.

You can now by the coins via the Leaf Cutter web site.

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Stephen Waddington

European Digital & Social Media Director at Ketchum and President of the CIPR. Author of Brand Anarchy and Brand Vandals; and editor and contributor to Share This and Share This Too. Visiting Professor of Practice in Public Relations at the University of Newcastle.