Can Kickstarter Make the Earth Move?

“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious – the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science.”
– Albert Einstein, from “The World as I see it”


kickstarterKickstarter is a global crowd funding platform for funding projects or startups, launched in 2009 in United States. The platform is gathering money from the public in a way  which circumvents traditional avenues of funding.

Project creators choose a deadline and a minimum funding goal. If the goal is not met by the deadline, no funds are collected, a kind of assurance contract that money will be invested to complete a project only when a sufficient amount is pledged.

There is no guarantee that people who post projects on Kickstarter will deliver on their projects, or even use the money to implement their projects, or that the completed projects will meet backers’ expectations. Kickstarter advises backers to use their own judgment on supporting a project. This means that backers fund projects more based on “liking” them or liking the intention with them, than on sound business investment grounds. 

As lean startup principles, as popularised by Eric Ries, have taken root over the past few years, innovators have stopped asking if a product can be built and started asking whether a product should be built.  Those who consistently launch successful new products will tell you that the lean startup process – getting a cheap, early prototype in front of real consumers, gathering feedback, and iterating based on that feedback – vastly increases the likelihood that new products will do well in the market.  Ironically, Eric Ries is now funding his new book venture The Leader´s Guide through Kickstarter.

bulidmessurelearnThis summer as we have written here on the blog last month, there will be a huge startup event in Nice, France focusing on lean startup principles. 

Over roughly the same time period as lean startup has become popular, entrepreneurs have launched thousands of successful new products using Kickstarter to get their projects off the ground. But Kickstarter does not only fund product or internet ventures. It also funds research and culture, such as this this online library project to document agricultural innovations, where only backers can get access to the publications.

einstein_lucie_janschWhat makes the Kickstarter model so interesting? It is about accessible, well-designed crowd-sourcing for individuals and small organizations seeking a fresh way to build support for their work. It’s also an all-or-nothing funding approach, where only fully-funded ideas move forward, which makes it not only a resource for fundraising but also a testing ground for concepts.

I have not given Kickstarter much attention until now, but today I noticed a project advertisement in a Facebook ad, which made me click on the link to open the Kickstarter page, and I am tempted to donate, because donations is really what Kickstarter is all about. I will not get any financial or other reward for my “investment” than the pleasure to see the project actually happening.

The Earth Moves

Einstein on the beach - train

The project that caught my attention is The Earth Moves – A documentary about Einstein on the Beach, a visually spectacular 1970s minimalistic opera, which happens to be my favourite piece of classical music of all times. The project is looking for USD 100,000 to be able to finish development of a documentary about the opera, and the backers will receive rewards ranging from digital download rights of the movie to t-shirts and DVD´s and a dinner with the filmmakers upon the projects successful completion.

Over the last 35 years, four productions of Einstein on the Beach have toured across the globe from New York and Tokyo to Paris and Melbourne. The work was revolutionary when it was first performed and is now considered one of the greatest artistic achievements of the 20th century. Writing this brief article, I think I have made up my mind. I will back this project with USD 25 so I can get the download of the finished movie. So far the project has 80 backers and 31 days to go…

Einstein on the Beach

Below is a low quality video from a 1984 documentary about the opera. I wonder, will the new documentary be equal or better? For those who may not like opera but anyway finds the topic interesting, I recommend this brilliantly written book by Nigel Calder from 1979.

Einstein on the Beach–The Changing Image of Opera

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