Fred Benenson was Kickstarter’s second employee and ran our data team before leaving in 2016 to explore new things. Today, we're happy to announce that he’s coming back for a bit as a Kickstarter Fellow.
Fred’s wide-ranging curiosity about technology and culture has taken him down some surprising paths. In fact, before he joined Kickstarter, Fred was already a Kickstarter creator. Emoji Dick, his crowdsourced translation of Moby Dick into emoji, was the first emoji work to be added to the Library of Congress. More recently, he co-created Pitch Deck, a tabletop game that’s a great parody of startup mania. And Fred has three other Kickstarter projects under his belt, so he’s intimately familiar with creators’ needs.
Over the next several months, Fred will be helping us build the next version of the Creator Dashboard, which is where creators go for data on a live project: its funding progress, the latest pledges, top referrals, and so forth. He’ll be looking at how we can give creators the insights they need to run the most effective campaigns and build their communities on Kickstarter. We’re looking forward to working with him again!
Today we’re excited to welcome Andy Baio back to Kickstarter. Andy’s a longtime member of the Kickstarter family. He advised us early on, helping us build Kickstarter before we even launched! And we even convinced him to serve as our very first CTO afterwards.
Andy’s a creator, full-stop. He embodies the spirit of independence that Kickstarter is proud to stand for, and he’s brought several great Kickstarter projects of his own to life over the years. “Kind of Bloop” was a chiptune jazz tribute to Miles Davis. More than 1,700 backers got behind his project to revive Upcoming — the events community Andy originally started many moons ago. And, most recently, he co-founded XOXO, an experimental festival celebrating independent artists who work on the internet.
This time around Andy’s joining us a Kickstarter Fellow. The Kickstarter Fellows idea is still taking shape, but it’s kinda like a visiting scholars program at a university — we identify really talented people whose work we admire and invite them in to collaborate with our team for a focused period of time. In the long term, we see the Fellows program as a great opportunity to work alongside extraordinary individuals who want to conspire with us to push our mission forward. But in the meantime we’re just excited to have a chance to work with Andy again. Please join us in welcoming him back. :)
The massive annual gathering tends to focus on the rollout of shiny new gadgets, but we wanted to do something a little different. We’ll be live streaming conversations with designers, engineers, and makers about how the innovative hardware products that CES celebrates get made, and sharing tips for how to make the manufacturing process less daunting.
The Hardware Studio booth will be a hub of activity. Stop by to see demos of Joto, a robotic drawing board; Sisyphus, a meditative kinetic sculpture; and many other Kickstarter-funded inventions. You can also meet with experts from Avnet and Dragon Innovation, who will be holding office hours for hardware startups. Creators can sign up for these one-on-one sessions to ask questions and get advice about factory selection, sourcing, manufacturing, and much more. Sign up for a session here.
Throughout the show, we'll be hosting live-streamed chats with hardware creators about how they approached manufacturing and brought their projects to life. Read on for the full schedule — and head to Hardware.studio to tune in.
Tuesday, January 9
It began at the Sundance Film Festival, where Jennifer Brea’s Unrest won a major jury award, and ended with the theatrical release of Loving Vincent, the world’s first fully hand-painted feature film. In between, we saw Kickstarter-funded features, documentaries, and web series enter the world, changing and reinventing the way stories are told onscreen.
Here, we share some of our favorite moments from Kickstarter alumni filmmakers in 2017.Jennifer Brea’s documentary about chronic fatigue syndrome premiered at Sundance — and was shortlisted for the 2018 Academy Awards.
In January, Jennifer Brea’s documentary Unrest — which raised over $200,000 on Kickstarter with the support of over 2,500 backers in 2013 — won the Special Jury Award for editing at the Sundance Film Festival. The film, which follows Brea's struggle with chronic fatigue syndrome, is currently shortlisted for the 2018 Academy Awards.
“Making the film saved my life in a thousand ways,” Brea told No Film School earlier this year. “I don't even mean that as metaphor — I mean, it literally saved my life.”
In February, Korean-American filmmaker Andrew Ahn gave a stirring speech at the Film Independent...
2017 was a consequential year. For many people, it was a challenging year. But it was also a year in which people made art that amplified new and underrepresented voices, brought communities together, and engaged in important conversations.
Kickstarter creators were an integral part of those conversations. This year, creators made work that dealt with vital issues like the global refugee crisis, mental health awareness, and the consequences of climate change. They imagined alternative futures and possibilities for our world, from a vision of Earth in which humans have merged with robots to an exhibition revealing the New York City skyline that never was. And they pushed their practices further through limited editions, commissioned pieces, and explorations of life and culture on our planet. Over 46,500 creators launched new and ambitious projects in 2017 — and over 4 million people supported them.
As a team, Kickstarter staffers have backed thousands of projects. So as the year comes to a close, we asked a few of our colleagues to share their favorite Kickstarter-funded works that became available to read, watch, explore, experience, purchase, and play in 2017. Some of these projects launched and subsequently...
This fall, we welcomed fifteen Kickstarter creators to our office in Brooklyn, NY, as part of our Creators-in-Residence program. The residents settled into their desks in September, and immediately got to work in our theater, recording studio, and meeting rooms. They organized events, developed new work, and partnered with Kickstarter staffers who served as their mentors, providing guidance and support throughout the development of their projects.
Here's a quick look at what they got up to during their three-month stay:They launched Kickstarter projects — and found support from more than 3,000 backers. Adam J. Kurtz, Hans Reichstetter, Dafina Roberts, Dance Cartel and Ally Shwed ran Kickstarter projects during the fall residency, and all were successfully funded with the help of 3,340 backers. Sean J. Patrick Carney and It’s Showtime NYC each launched a Drip. They created and produced new work. Podcaster Sean J. Patrick Carney recorded thirty interviews with contemporary artists and comedians from Kickstarter’s recording studio. You can now subscribe...
In 2015, Mike Butera and the Artiphon team launched the Instrument 1 on Kickstarter. Their goal was to create a “multi-instrument” that could be played like a guitar, violin, piano, or sampler — giving music-makers an interface that was as flexible and customizable as the digital sounds it controlled.
That vision resonated with more than 3,300 backers, who helped the Instrument 1 become the highest-funded musical instrument on Kickstarter to date. As a platform devoted to bringing creative projects to life, we love it when creators make tools that encourage others to be creative in new ways. So we asked Butera to share some of his favorite examples of the music people made with the Instrument 1 from the past year.
Every day, like proud parents, the Artiphon team and I watch as people around the world share what they’re creating with the Instrument 1. We laugh, we cry, we fist pump. Of course, we didn’t know what would happen when we hit the green “Launch” button on our Kickstarter campaign back in 2015. And as we started shipping, we didn’t know what people would do with the creative canvas of the Instrument 1. But here we are, leaping into 2018, and thousands of people are discovering new ways to explore music and share their sounds.
Here are five moments that really...
A nudge to get creating in 2018.
Last January we launched Make 100, a creative prompt focused on limited editions of 100. The idea was to start the year with a new project and a commitment to creating. Over 470 creators participated, making everything from photobooks to 3D-printed lamps to handmade tapestries, and much more.
We loved ringing in the new year with this burst of creative energy. That’s why we’re bringing Make 100 back for 2018 — and we can’t wait to see what you’ll make.
Being part of Make 100 is simple: launch a Kickstarter project between January 1 and January 31 featuring a limited-edition reward capped at 100 backers. As long as your project follows Kickstarter’s rules, the only limit is your imagination. Head here for more details.
Need a little inspiration? We asked five creators about their experiences running Make 100 projects in 2017. Below, they talk about how they built a community of backers and how their Make 100 project helped spark their creativity for the rest of the year.Jenny Odell, Satellite Collection Print
Artist Jenny Odell created an edition of her print 681 Observatory Domes, Telescopes, and Other Structures for Long Range Observation, a digital collage sourced from satellite images.
“This was a piece that I...
When people say our food system is broken, it’s shorthand for a myriad of interrelated issues. These problems are complex, and it’s easy to feel as though they’re insurmountable. But we believe that through collaboration and the ingenuity of independent creators, solutions are within reach.
Today, Kickstarter is teaming up with the global food innovation accelerator Food-X to issue a joint Request for Innovations. Together, we’re calling upon independent creators who are attempting to improve our food system, working to provide food options that engender public health, promote sustainability, and reduce food waste.
The scope of the challenge ahead means that the resulting projects may take many forms. Maybe accountability is important to you, and you’re aiming to create a seafood traceability system like Dock to Dish. Or you think K-cups are an environmental nightmare, and you’ve designed a compostable single-serve coffee bag like Steeped Coffee. Or perhaps you’re designing an open-source job training curriculum for professional kitchens like FoodWorks Madison. If your project has the potential to make a positive impact, it’s the kind of thing we’d like to support.
What does our support look like? That’s up to you.
If you’re focused on growing an innovative food business and looking to scale your impact, Food-X can offer investment, mentorship, and the ecosystem you need to grow. If...
Today we're happy to announce that Cassie Marketos is joining Kickstarter as our Vice President of Community Strategy. A lot of that happiness has to do with the fact that Cassie is really not so new. She was Kickstarter’s first official employee, before there was even a Kickstarter office. In this newly created role, much of her focus will be on nurturing the community we’re building at Drip, a tool for artists and creators to fund and build community around their creative practice. It’s great to have her back. We asked Cassie to answer a few questions about herself.
Tell us about your first day at Kickstarter in 2009.
It was, honestly, very nerve-wracking! I had never had a tech, startup-y type job before. I was also very young and had taken something of a risk: I was working out of my home, for an unproven concept that wasn’t really a company yet, I wasn't going to be paid right away, etc. (My parents had a heart attack when I told them.) My first day was just in Yancey's living room. He showed me how to use the system and talk to curious creators who were writing in, wanting a shot at using Kickstarter. He was also extremely excited to show me his seltzer maker.
What did you do after you left Kickstarter?
I left to go it alone and have some time to...
This November, we challenged creators to take part in Commissions, an open call for collaborative projects.
The idea was simple: Artists, designers, and makers could run Kickstarter projects that invited their supporters to pledge for rewards made especially for them, using their input and ideas in the creative process.
So far, we’ve seen over 150 Commissions projects launch from creators around the world. Their creative ventures have encompassed everything from making one-of-a-kind geometric paintings and architectural illustrations of backers’ childhood homes to composing one-minute songs, choreographing custom dance moves, and painting oh so many dog portraits.
Today we’re pleased to announce the ability for backers to see project goals and reward-tier amounts converted into the currency of their choice. With pledges coming from more than 175 countries — and nearly half of them made from outside the U.S. — this feature serves our growing community around the world.
You’ll notice that at the bottom of most pages on the Kickstarter site there’s now an option to select a currency. You can change this preference at any time, and you don’t need a Kickstarter account to do so. (We set a default for you based on your location or account settings.)
Once you select a currency, project goals, reward tiers, and pledge amounts will be shown with an approximate conversion to that currency.
If your currency preference does not match the project’s currency, you will see reward tier amounts in the project’s currency, with an approximate conversion just below.
A few questions you might have:When a pledge is collected at the end of a campaign, what currency are backers actually paying in?
Backers’ pledges are collected in the project’s currency. Setting a preferred currency allows backers to see the approximate amount in the currency of their choosing, but it does not change the currency of the pledge itself.What currencies are available?
We currently support the ability to choose the Australian Dollar (AUD), British Pound (GBP), Canadian Dollar (CAD),...
In 2012, the record label Ghostly International launched Drip as a way for people to support musicians through subscriptions. Though niche, Drip was a pioneering service. You could see the potential. Almost two years ago, Drip became a part of Kickstarter instead of shutting down.Kickstarter is for projects, Drip is for people.
Today we launch a new Drip for artists and creators across the full spectrum of disciplines we support on Kickstarter. Just as artists, authors, game designers, musicians, and filmmakers use Kickstarter to fund and build community around their projects, Drip is a tool for people to fund and build community around their ongoing creative practice.Built to be expansive.
In recent years, we’ve seen the growing validation of subscriptions for serial online content creators — podcasters, YouTubers, bloggers — using tools like Flattr, Patreon, and Steady. It's been great to see organizations build tools like these — the world is far from having too many tools for creators. But there remain large groups of artists and creators who don’t see subscriptions as fitting their creative practices. Our goal with the new Drip is to change that.Focused on creator independence.
A key mandate for the design of Drip has been creator independence. The work and relationships that creators build online should belong to them. They shouldn’t feel stuck to a platform because those things aren’t easy to move. With that in mind, creators will...
Today, I’m excited to announce two new leaders at Kickstarter in newly created roles.
Sarah Hromack joined us six weeks ago as Kickstarter’s first-ever Chief Culture Officer, and Jamie Wilkinson joined us two weeks ago as our first-ever Chief Product Officer. Sarah and Jamie have both built distinguished careers working in service to artists and creators. We continue this journey together working to fulfill our mission to help bring creative projects to life.
Here’s a little more about each of them in their own words:
Sarah Hromack, Chief Culture Officer
Where were you before Kickstarter?
I was the founding director of the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Digital Media Department and worked in a design studio on the Bowery called Project Projects. I write about art, design and technology; I also teach in the graduate design program at the Rhode Island School of Design — I really enjoy exchanging ideas with people through writing, publishing, teaching and now, my work with Kickstarter.
What’s your new job all about?
I lead the teams here that engage directly with creators in the outside world, which are truly unique. I’m here to help formalize and expand Kickstarter as a cultural organization that uses technology to help creative projects come to life.
I came to Kickstarter because I am committed to working for the common good in an organization that works in the interest of creators. It is my life’s work. Kickstarter has impacted the lives and practices of many...
This summer, Kickstarter joined forces with four film and artist support organizations in New Orleans — NOVAC, The New Orleans Film Society, #CreateLouisiana, and Film New Orleans — to form the New Orleans Tricentennial Story Incubator. The plan? To help bring to life five films from local filmmakers about their city, ahead of NOLA’s 2018 Tricentennial celebration.This week, the five films launch their Kickstarter campaigns. Each aims to raise $5,000 so that they can access a $5,000 matching grant, production support from Film New Orleans, 10 hours of ongoing support during production from NOVAC, and a premiere event in the spring of 2018 in New Orleans. The selected filmmakers have already enjoyed All Access passes to the 2017 New Orleans Film Festival and fundraising consultation support from our Director of Narrative Film, Elise McCave, who traveled to the festival to meet with the filmmakers. New Orleans holds a special place in our heart. Our founder, Perry Chen, came up with the idea for Kickstarter while living in NOLA in 2001. And in the eight years since Kickstarter’s launch in 2009, New Orleans has been the source of many inspired projects from across the creative...
Five years ago today a Kickstarter team was supposed to be over in the UK celebrating our first international expansion. Unfortunately, Hurricane Sandy trapped them in a soggy New York. But the Kickstarter community in the UK quickly flourished regardless: In the last five years, 27,500 UK projects have launched, and they’ve attracted £168 million in pledges.
This felt like the right moment to look back at some of our favorite UK projects. It was a tough list to whittle down, but we hope it conveys the breadth of the creativity that has come out of Kickstarter in the UK, and the impact those projects have had at home and abroad.
Emilie Holmes’s project for her Good & Proper Tea Truck launched on our first day in the UK, and the truck was soon serving up tea to Londoners — and backers visiting from the US and elsewhere… Alan Moore, the author of V for Vendetta, funded His Heavy Heart, the conclusion to a deliciously dark film series… The videogame Elite: Dangerous raised £1.6 million and has evolved into one of the world’s best spaceflight games… Kelly Angood set the tone for many retro-tech projects to come with her Pop-Up Pinhole Project… Some...
Making movies is tough, but thrilling. And there’s nothing more thrilling for filmmakers than to see the fruits of their labor in post-production and eventually on to festivals and distribution. But there are countless challenges along the way, and filmmakers must to be able to step out of the edit and see their work on a larger format in order to be able to fine-tune it and, ultimately, lock picture.
Kickstarter’s Film team wants to ease the financial pressure on alumni filmmakers in post-production who are looking for a venue to screen their work. So, earlier this year, we decided to open our fifty-seat theater at our headquarters in Brooklyn to select Kickstarter alumni with films nearing completion. This gives them the chance to show their works-in-progress to funders, collaborators, and test audiences. For some of them, it will be the first time they see their work on a big screen.
As part of this program, which we’re calling Rough Cut, directors Anthony and Alex screened an edit of their Kickstarter-funded documentary Susanne Bartsch: On Top at Kickstarter’s HQ last year. The film recently had its world premiere at the Hot Docs documentary film festival in Toronto, and the directors are currently seeking distribution.
“It can be so difficult to secure a theater space on a limited budget, and the opportunity to screen our work-in-progress at Kickstarter’s theater made the experience so much easier,” Anthony and Alex said....
Since Kickstarter launched eight years ago, writers, photographers, and podcasters have used it to forge their own paths in journalism. And a community of readers and listeners has followed: as of this month, over $10 million has been pledged to Journalism projects on Kickstarter.
To mark the milestone, we spoke with the creators behind three memorable Kickstarter-funded journalism projects. They shared their thoughts on the future of independent journalism and the potential for journalists — by teaming up with the Kickstarter community — to transform the field.Meet the panel
Carroll Bogert: President of The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization that reports on and amplifies the voices of those within the U.S. criminal justice system.
Paul Salopek: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist behind Out of Eden, a seven-year, 21,000-mile trek following the ancient pathways of human migration.
Julia Calagiovanni: Managing editor of Off Assignment, a home for the untold stories that never make it into print.
Carroll Bogert: All citizens can benefit from good, reliable information. The Marshall Project in particular serves a large community of people who care about the criminal justice system. Our...
Leading up to the launch of Commissions, our newest creative prompt, we’re highlighting twelve Kickstarter-funded creations that resulted from collaborations between creators and their backers. Take a look, then start working on your own Commissions project to launch this November.Emily Grenader’s Giant Crowd Painting
Inspired by Renaissance painters, who often portrayed patrons in their work, artist Emily Grenader included the faces of her thirty-eight backers in this six-by-nine–foot painting.John Kilduff’s Cat Portraits
For our Make 100 creative prompt in January, John Kilduff painted portraits of his backers’ cats, then created larger paintings of the cats grouped by their fur colors and patterns. For Projects of Earth he upped the ante, offering to portray any subject of his backers’ choosing in a frame-worthy oil painting.Fahz’s Face Vases
In 2015, Fahz launched a project to render their backers’ profiles as 3D-printed vases. “Martha and I found ourselves transformed overnight into digital potters,” co-founder Nicholas Desbiens says. In the video below, they share every single vase they created for the campaign.Jamie Tanner’s Illustrated Tweets
For his project Always On Brand, comics artist Jamie Tanner asked his backers to send in their favorite...
We often learn new things about ourselves while working on creative projects. Jesse Genet launched Lumi, a line of light-sensitive ink kits, over the course of two Kickstarter campaigns. In the process, she discovered that she loved solving the logistical puzzle of shipping things. So she shifted her company's focus to helping other creators design beautiful packaging for their projects. We asked Genet to share some tips on how to plan for packaging and shipping before you launch a Kickstarter campaign.
For many Kickstarter creators, packaging is an afterthought. With all the work that goes into creating your project and building an audience, it’s easy to arrive at that triumphant moment when you’re ready to ship and suddenly realize that you have a lot of unanswered questions. Will your rewards arrive safe and sound? Can you stick to your shipping budget? When your rewards land on doorsteps around the world, will the packaging reflect the creativity and excitement of the project itself?
My introduction to packaging came via the two Kickstarter campaigns I ran for my first product, an art supply kit called Inkodye. My first campaign in 2009 had 188 backers. I was in college at the time, and my homework suffered as I packed rewards at night. By the time I launched my 2012 campaign, I had added some collaborators to my team and felt far more prepared. We raised more than...