Karmacharger on the news! Learn how Kickstarter Fuels Over 11,000 Creative Projects

Karmacharger in action

They call it the Karma Charger. You can use one to power up the drained batteries of any USB device such as a smart phone, an iPod, and so on. “The Karma Charger is portable, fits in the palm of one’s hand, and is made almost entirely from recycled e-waste,” says Katy Rast, director of a place called the Fab Lab in East San Diego, where the Karma Charger was invented by a team of student designers. Fab Lab is a skills development center geared to low income families. They hope to raise venture capital enough to put the Karma Charger on the market by using Kickstarter.

In the two years of its existence, Kickstarter has helped attract cash for over 11,000 creative projects to the tune of some $75 million dollars. Rather than direct- pitching funding needs to bankers or capitalists or rich uncles, Kickstarter projects generate small cash donations, or pledges, made by donors in support of specific artists’ projects. Nena Anderson is a San Diego singer/songwriter who financed a CD through Kickstarter. “I don’t like to ask people for things. This was a really good way to do it.”

Such projects have been created by Oscar winners, Grammy winners or Pulitzer Prize finalists, says Justin Kazmark, a member of Kickstarter’s communications team, “but the vast majority of them are simply creative ideas imagined by regular people, emerging artists, makers and creators of all stripes.” For example, Especially Mysterious Letters has a goal of sending individually addressed letters to everyone in the world (they raised $3,956); an artist residency in Northern Michigan called Rabbit Island raised $14,970, and Grassroots Mapping of the Gulf Oil Spill with Maps and Kites raised $8,285.

Kickstarter’s founders are Perry Chen, Yancey Strickler, and Charles Adler. Chen, the company’s CEO, had visions of what would become the finished product as early as 2002, but the web site didn’t launch until 2009. It works almost like a public radio fund drive. Project designers post a cash goal and offer “incentives” to potential donors in the form of various gifts for ascending levels of contributions. They self-promote by directing traffic to their Kickstarter web page. And, it all happens on a time-line. If the desired amount is not reached within the time frame, there’s no deal.

“Kickstarter projects will have clearly defined goals,” says Kazmark, “a creative purpose, and will offer unique experiences and rewards in exchange for pledges.” Are there projects that Kickstarter won’t allow? Yes, it turns out. “We do not allow charity or ‘fund my life’ type projects.”

Fab Lab hopes that sales of their Karma Charger will become a revenue stream that will in turn help cover some of the overhead at the grant-supported agency and allow them to provide more programs to the community. But, will the pocket device also boost one’s karma? “We’ll see,” says Katy Rast. She laughs.

Source URL: http://local.sandiego.com/news/learn-how-kickstarter-fuels-over-11000-creative-projects