UK entrepreneurs hope for fresh chances as Kickstarter crosses Atlantic

 

The crowdfunding website Kickstarter has helped launch projects including a commercial spacesuit and an open source submarine. Now the UK’s creative entrepreneurs will get a chance to bring their ideas to life when the investment platform crosses the Atlantic.

Until now only open to US-registered projects, Kickstarter allows film-makers, app designers, video game creators and anyone with a smart business idea to appeal for small amounts of funding to help get their idea to market.

Individuals set a funding target for their project and investors receive different levels of rewards in proportion to their financial involvement.

The New York company began in 2009 as a mechanism to help community arts projects. It has since helped fund more than 20,000 projects, with several reaching their target of $1 million.

Kickstarter successes include the Pebble, an electronic paper Smart Watch, which raised more than $3m (£1.8 million) in less than a week on the site and eventually totalled $10 million in pledges.

It has generated seed-funding for an indie film starring Lindsay Lohan, a motion-controlled Sword game, and a Nasa engineer's submarine, designed for pollution monitoring or species identification in Antarctica, which passed its $20,000 target inside 24 hours.

The site, which uses Amazon’s payment system, announced in a tweet: "People in the UK will be able to launch projects on Kickstarter starting this autumn.”

Currently UK entrepreneurs are only able to raise funds if they partner with a US organisation. Last month, Stainless Games, the Isle of Wight company behind video game Carmageddon, raised $625,143 through the site, to enable them to create a sequel. Stainless had to set up a separate company in the US in order to qualify to use Kickstarter.

The UK launch will help artists like Julia Vogl, who is seeking Kickstarter funds to support Home, her “self-initiated cultural Olympiad” public art installation in Peckham, south east London.

The US-born Vogl, who is recording the voices of Peckham residents and embedding MP3 files of their conversations inside a wooden “home”, has received 30 pledges totalling $2,226 with 16 days to go before the appeal ends.

Kickstarter is also being used by London-based comic book artists Peter Cooper and Adam Burn to create an “epic-scale, action-intensive, sci-fi work” called Telikos Protocol. The duo need $9,600 to continue their work and have so far raised under $3,000.

Although Kickstarter claims to be the “world’s largest funding forum for creative projects”, only 44 per cent of appeals meet their funding goals. Dance projects are most successful, statistics suggest. It is launching into a crowded market for fund-raising sites in the UK, where Crowdfunder, Peoplefund.it and Indiegogo already operate.

Musicians will hope to emulate the $1.2 million raised via Kickstarter this year by Boston singer Amanda Palmer to fund her latest album, a record figure for a crowd-sourced music project.

This week soul veteran Tina Turner signed up to raise funds for her new album through PledgeMusic.com. Bruce Foxton, former bassist with The Jam, is offering to play a round of golf with whoever gives £300 through PledgeMusic, to fund a new album featuring his former bandmate Paul Weller.

The founders

Kickstarter began in the New York living room of Perry Chen, who along with co-founders Yancey Strickler and Charles Adler, shared a vision of a web platform which would help creatives get their dream projects off the ground without relying on big corporations.

Within a year, Kickstarter was named by TIME magazine one of the “Best Inventions of 2010” and is now responsible for funding 10% of the “indie” films screened at the Sundance festival.

More than $175 million has been raised so far with Kickstarter taking 5% from each funding pledge and Amazon pocketing a further stake for the use of its payment mechanism.

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