Maybe you are in the know, and maybe you are not. You’ve seen words tossed about like Kickstarter, Indiegogo and Crowdfunder. You’ve heard people “backing” projects, tweeting about “stretch goals” and going off the chain over their “backer rewards”. Perhaps you’ve experienced what all the buzz is about, or maybe you are sitting in your chair like this guy…
We here at Starry-Eyed Potboiler don’t want you to lose one hair on your head over the fluidity of the interwebs. We want you to have an understanding of one of the most revolutionary aspects of the digital age to date: Crowdfunding.
If you ask Mirriam-Webster or The Googles they will give you a flat: [read in a stuffy British accent] “Crowdfunding is the means by which a person or business collects revenue for a project or product by soliciting funds from a large group of people, most prominently via a website.” Blech! That’s the stale answer, here is the one that will grab you by the throat – “Crowdfunding is a way the little-guy (inventors, artists, authors, designers and more) can cut out the middle man and bring not only their ideas, their products straight to the customer, but allow the people to become investors in making a dream become a reality!
Too much? A little too “make-a-wishy”? Maybe it is, but it is true. For decades, nay, centuries, the path to producing a product has been pretty much the same. Person gets an idea, they make a prototype, then search for investors or a company to purchase it that has the capital to produce the product, market it and sell it. In many markets, we’ll look at the publishing industry, that path has become fraught with individuals who make decisions for millions, even billions of people. A writer creates a novel, then must jump through a myriad of hoops to get accepted into the halls of the major publishing companies, who then run her through an obstacle course to finish the book, only to be told it will be published in a year or so, or maybe never, because they slipped that little heater through the contract the writer was asked to sign. In the end, you the reader are left waiting years for a book that you might love.
Why are we letting major corporations run our lives? Why are we letting them make decisions for us? The answer is that we don’t have to. Enter Crowdfunding. Now, when someone creates something amazing, like Monolith Board Games LCC’s Conan Boardgame, you don’t have to wait years for a major company like Mattel or Hasbro to purchase it from the creator, or invest in it. You can go to websites like Kickstarter, search through current projects, invest your own money in them and receive some amazing rewards for doing so. The best part? You don’t have to wait on big business to make the decisions about if and when you a product that you’ve fallen in love with.
While Kickstarter is the most recognizable of the crowdfunding websites, there are others, like Indiegogo. While Kickstarter is an all or nothing (if the project doesn’t meet it’s funding goal, all funds are returned to donors), sites like Indiegogo allow the project creator to keep what they have raised. Another site that is different is called GoFundMe. This site allows for people to raise money towards goals that are ongoing, rather than a specific time or amount deadline.
In all of these, the person is not begging or simply trying to get money. They are 9 times out of 10, a person who has an idea, a dream that they want to share with others, but they do not want to wait on Corporate America to make decisions for them or their target audience. Nearly all of these projects detail what the money will be used for, the costs of producing the product, marketing and shipping. So, when you hear the word Crowdfunding thrown out, don’t think this: