Kickstarter: the latest way to launch a creative career. Here are three designs that made it big.
Money raised: $9,200 in 30 days
Flouting the West’s worship of multi-functionality, Ini Archibong looked to his Nigerian heritage and created a chair with a specific purpose: stargazing. But as a student at the Art Center College of Design, in Pasadena, California, he couldn’t afford to ship his work across the country to exhibit at Wanted Design during New York Design Week last May. So he spent three months making a video. “There’s a feeling about Kickstarter that it’s off the cuff, that artists just jump in front of a camera and people fund their projects.” He countered that perception by delivering a polished pitch, with an offer of 3‑D printed miniatures and full-scale versions of the piece, both in a limited edition Kickstarter green. That approach helped him meet his financial goal – and turned his Wanted debut into a hit.
Money raised: $77,400 in 40 days
Beau Oyler and Jared Aller had already designed lifestyle products when they came up with Urbio, a modular system of organizers and planters affixed to a magnetic mount. Kickstarter gave them a way to solicit feedback before they took the plunge into creating their new brand. After 40 days, they had quintupled their goal of $15,000. Then they realized they had underestimated the cost of magnets. “It was a big gut check to us,” says Aller. “We ended up having to re-evaluate the entire project.” But customers have been so enthusiastic, they’re completing hundreds of orders a week, which has ultimately made the product profitable. “People instantly fall in love with it,” he says.
Money raised: $17,800 in 36 days
Experimenting in two areas – parametrically generated shapes and concrete casting – the team at LeeLabs arrived at the concept for Para Clocks, timepieces configured online by the customer and made to spec. Turning to crowd funding to finance mass production was a no-brainer, and it proved an excellent fit for Para Clocks: since custom design requires direct input from the client, it gave them easy access to possible donors. They more than tripled their goal, which they hope will enable them to turn their design tool into a smartphone app. “In the end,” says Brian Lee, “we are interested in the final aesthetic.” As with any project, success comes down to the original idea.