I’ve been a fan of Kickstarter since it launched back in 2009. I love its very 21st-century take on patronage. It’s also my favourite example of a particular kind of startup idea. Back in 2009, I wrote “it’s a terrific example of spotting something that people are doing in an ad hoc basis, and creating a site to formally organize and enable that behaviour.”
Kickstarter now processes some serious coin. They’ve recently had several projects raise more than a million dollars, and in 2011 their projects collectively generated just under US $100 million That’s up from $27 million in 2010.
With all that money floating around, there must be an emergent demand for a professional marketer or fundraiser who can help Kickstarter projects achieve their goals. After all, Kickstarter (and its ilk) are simply a particular kind of fundraising, which is itself a popular profession.
I did some searches for ‘Kickstarter consultant’ and the like, but Google’s cupboards were surprisingly bare. I found this guy and this guy, both of whom more or less admit to accidentally becoming crowdfunding consultants. Interestingly, they’re both filmmakers who had their own successful Kickstarter projects. I’m always been a little leery of the “I did this, so you can too” approach, but I have no reason to doubt their capabilities. I was surprised not to find any professional marketers or fundraisers positioning themselves for this kind of work. Even searches for the more general ‘crowdfunding consultant’ (and some variations) didn’t produce as many convincing results as I would have expected.
The average Kickstarter project in 2011 only asked for about $8400. If you’re earning a few percentage points, there’s not a lot of money there. But many of the projects are worth tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars. Most projects seem to be founded by artists, musicians, filmmakers and designers. These are, in my experience, people who, on average, aren’t great at marketing themselves and their projects. Most of the artists I know would prefer to make art.
On the other hand, it’s still early days for Kickstarter. So perhaps it’s a prerequisite for a successful project that the people behind it be savvy marketers? In essence, Kickstater filters out the creative people who are bad at crowdfunding?
Obviously, crowdfunding is becoming big business. And it’s about to become a lot bigger, thanks to a new bill that President Obama is soon expected to sign into law. I expect to meet more and more crowdfunding experts at conferences in the coming months.