Toronto's still waiting to get "Kickstarted"
Kickstarter is a US-based website that aims to help creative types secure funding for their projects. Launched in spring of 2009, it's become quite the success story, with some of the most popular proposals garnering hundreds of thousands of dollars (an idea to turn an iPod Nano into a watch went particularly bananas).
For those that haven't checked it out before, the website combines the concept of what might be called "crowdfunding" with social media strategies via a platform through which people can pitch their projects to the community at large. The one noteworthy stipulation is that a project must receive all of the money initially requested or the whole thing falls through.
Why the all or nothing approach? Kickstarter offers three logical explanations for this proviso: 1) it keeps expectations in line (it's tough to produce a $5000 project on a $2000 budget), 2) it allows people to gauge the interest in an idea with the risk of having to follow through on it with scant funding, and 3) it motivates the creator to spread the word about their project.
So it makes sense. In fact the website is a pretty remarkable resource for those with plenty of ideas but not a whole lot of cash. But there's one massive catch for those of us who don't live in the US. Because Kickstarter uses Amazon Payments -- and not PayPal!?! -- the service is restricted to "people or entities with a US bank account, US address, and a US drivers license (or state-issued ID)."
Well, that sucks. Although Kickstarter promises that it "will allow international project creators in the future," that's yet to happen (and we've been waiting a long time). But, interestingly, a search of Toronto-based projects does reveal some activity. There are currently 13 "project creators" on Kickstarter who cite this city as their home base, 10 of which successfully received funding and three of which are languishing without much interest.
Some of the projects that met their funding targets include: film shorts, documentary projects, EPs, a web-television series, a fire art project (not a typo) and a 7" vinyl project that the Rural Alberta Advantage undertook last August.
So clearly those with contacts in the US (or who've simply spent enough time there to have a bank account and driver's licence) have found a way to make Kickstarter work despite its current lack of geographic range. There are, of course, tax risks involved with enlisting a friend or contact south of the border, but apparently there are some very accommodating people out there.
Despite the fact that there are a few Toronto-based projects on the website, usage here unsurprisingly pales in comparison to US cities (New York, for instance currently has 950 on the go). Because it seems that Kickstarter is dragging its heels on going international, I'm not holding my breath that Torontonians will be able to start easily using this service anytime soon. And that's very disappointing, because I am, after all, full of project ideas.