Entrepreneurship with a kick

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Kevin Harrington, driven with a unique idea, was one of many to post to Kickstarter.com earlier this year. The young entrepreneur, and computer science student at BYU, saw the vision of creating his own device and app that could control a DSLR or high-end point-and-shoot camera.

Harrington and his team posted their concept, called TriggerHappy, to Kickstarter and proved successful. The TriggerHappy team far exceeded their goal of $25,000 by raising $221,739. Now, the team of three is busy creating what they set out to create.

“We have been working on the product that Kickstarter has funded,” said Harrington. “That’s what we promised people we would do, and that’s what we are doing.”

Since 2009, Kickstarter.com has been the landing zone for creative minds to share ideas with the world and hope for backers to fund those ideas. Today, Kickstarter is becoming one of the most efficient ways for new start-ups and creative projects to begin.

A Worldwide Community of Creativity

Since its beginning, Kickstarter has had more than 20,000 successfully funded projects in an “all-or-nothing funding” model. After someone posts a project and sets a goal for a certain amount of money, participants must reach that goal in order to receive any of the donated money.

The backers on Kickstarter consist of about 2 million people from around the world who come to one online location to browse the creative ideas of others.

“People come to Kickstarter to build community around their projects,” according to the Kickstarter.com introduction page. “It’s inspiring to be supported by people you know, and amazing to connect with strangers who are discovering your ideas for the first time.”

While many projects have had success using Kickstarter, some start-ups are achieving unheard of success in online crowd-funding. One project, the Pebble Smartwatch, made more than $10 million, making it the most funded project in Kickstarter history.

The Pebble Smartwatch wirelessly connects the user to their smart phone or tablet and informs of incoming calls or messages. While the idea is new and creative, it still intrigues many that such an idea could do as well and receive as much attention as it did on the Internet.

“It’s an amazing feat when you consider just how many big-name smart phone and tablet brands are fighting for the same attention,” said Alexandra Chang in her article, “Hands On With Pebble Smartwatch, the Most Successful Kickstarter Project Ever.”

The Strength of the Kickstarter Community

Jesse and Kimberly Moore both recently graduated from BYU in manufacturing engineering and home and family living, respectively. The young married couple enjoys traveling and photography, as well as browsing through Kickstarter in their free time.

The large online community provides a way for entrepreneurs to make their ideas become reality.

“(The community of backers) like to be a part of your creation,” said Kimberly, when answering why the Kickstarter community is so strong.
When someone browses through a project page on Kickstarter, they can see an explanation of the project and how they might benefit from the project if they contribute to the funding.
Jesse, who has backed close to 12 projects, knows what kind of benefits may come.
“It depends on  how much you pledge for what you get,” he said. “It could be the actual product itself, or just a thank you.”
Sometimes the immediate gift from the project creator does not matter to the online backers as much as the idea itself.
“Because you have a cool idea or something that has never been done before, people may want to donate like $10, or something, just to support the project,” said Jesse.

The Moores’ interest in Kickstarter does not end with backing other projects. They decided to create a project of their own.

“We wanted to start our own Kickstarter project,” said Kimberly Moore. “We were fascinated with the whole idea and we were just trying to think of things we could do that would really be integrative of both of our skills and talents, so traveling and photography came up.”

The couple began an artistic project that would allow them to share exclusive photography of a trip though Thailand, essentially allowing the backers to experience the foreign country without leaving their homes. The project was put on hold because of scheduling conflicts, but they plan to use Kickstarter again in the future.

“There is nothing to lose, except maybe time,” said Jesse Moore.

The Legacy of Kickstarter

“Kickstarter.com is an outright phenomenon in its own right,” said John Richards, associate director of the Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology, in an email.
According to Richards, Kickstarter was initially contemplated to be merely a website where creative inventions and products could be funded by donations. It quickly turned into a source of validation and a “purchase-order financing mechanism.”
In essence, Kickstarter has made it easier for entrepreneurs to start a venture by quickly determining the demand of the product or idea and the interest of the public.

Richards went on to explain that because Kickstarter makes the start-up process so much easier, it allows almost any talented team to beat large corporations.

“That is one of the largest legacies of Kickstarter.com — even consumer electronics can be done by anyone now,” Richards said. “I think it’s here to stay.”

 

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