Careers at Kickstarter
Kickstarter’s mission is to help bring creative projects to life.
Perry Chen was a resident of New Orleans making a living as a musician. He was a fan of Austrian DJ duo Kruder & Dorfmeister and wanted to organize a concert where they would perform. However, the group refused to play without an upfront monetary commitment. Chen was inspired to come up with a crowdfunding service – one in which fans could donate money if they had enough interest in a given project, and would get rewards for contributing. This way, difficult-to-fund efforts could have a shot at becoming a reality. Chen wanted to focus on creative projects in areas such as art and film.
In 2009 Chen partnered with media editor Yancey Stricker and Web designer Charles Adler to develop the idea – a website called Kickstarter. They decided that people who requested funding for projects, called “creators”, would have to offer “rewards” in exchange for funding from people called “backers”. The site would generate revenue by applying a 5% fee on the final amounts raised for projects, in addition to payment processing fees. The guys officially introduced the service in April 2009. They initially promoted it by giving 50 friends invites to begin projects as well as giving them invites to offer to other people (still the most marketing they have done to date).
By the second day of launch, individuals they didn’t know were launching projects. By the third day they witnessed the first successfully funded project, “Drawing for Dollars”, which raised $35. Over the next few years, awareness and usage of Kickstarter exploded. By 2013 it had facilitated funding for tens of thousands of projects with hundreds of millions of dollars. Projects varied in scope from assisting musicians in promoting an album to helping independent films complete development and production. Kickstarter became the biggest website dedicated to crowdfunding. The company now enables the start of projects in many other countries, including Canada, the UK, and Australia.
Benefits at Kickstarter
Business model of Kickstarter
Kickstarter has a multi-sided business model, with two interdependent customer segments that are both needed in order to operate:
- Creators: Individuals or groups who request funding for a project -- a work with a clear goal.
- Backers: People who pledge money for the funding of creators’ projects.
Kickstarter offers four primary value propositions: accessibility, risk reduction, performance, and brand/status.
The company provides an alternative source of funding for projects that may have difficulty receiving financial backing. It also gives fans of a given project the opportunity to personally support it.
The company maintains an “Integrity Team” whose purpose is to ensure the security of its users. The team uses automated tools and complex algorithms to identify and examine suspicious project activity. It also collects and reviews concerns reported by the community. If it finds that a creator has abused the system, it levies a suspension. These actions help to reduce the risk of fraud for backers.
The company has a strong performance track record. Among projects that have attained 20% of their funding objective, 81% have eventually been successfully (fully) funded. Among projects that have attained 60% of their objective, 98% have been eventually funded.
The company’s high success rate has led to a strong brand. More than 11 million people have acted as backers for a project, pledging over $2 billion for over 100,000 projects. Over 3 million of those individuals were repeat backers, and over 400,000 people have backed ten or more projects. The site is not only used by everyday citizens, but has also become popular among prominent people seeking funds, particularly in the entertainment industry – high-profile examples include projects by Rob Thomas, Zach Braff, and Spike Lee for their movie efforts. Lastly, the site has received positive attention in the media, with the New York Times calling it “the people’s NEA“ (National Endowment for the Arts) and Time highlighting it as one of the“Best Websites of 2011“ and one of the“Best Inventions of 2010.“
Kickstarter’s main channel is its website, through which it obtains users. The company also markets its offering through its social media pages.
Kickstarter’s customer relationship is primarily of a self-service, automated nature. Customers utilize the service through the website while having limited interaction with employees.
The site provides a “Creator Handbook” with all the information fund-seekers need to know, with covered topics including funding, fulfillment, promotion, building rewards, and communicating with backers.
Kickstarter’s business model entails maintaining an active platform between two parties: creators and backers.
The platform includes its website and mobile app.
Kickstarter does not have a dedicated partner program, but the company has partnered with various entities for cross-promotional purposes.
The New York Times utilized its community of filmmakers to create Kickstarter-branded documentaries to be published on its webpage and YouTube channel. Also, The Guardian and The Smithsonian have both utilized the company’s crowdfunding platform to support some of their projects.
Kickstarter’s main resource is its technology employees who maintain the platform – half of its staff is involved in designing and coding. The company also depends on customer service employees to address user issues.
Lastly, as a start-up it has relied heavily on outside funding, raising $10 million from 19 investors as of March 2011.
Kickstarter has a cost-driven structure, aiming to minimize expenses through significant automation. Its biggest cost drivers are likely in the areas of customer support/operations and administration, both fixed costs.
Kickstarter has one revenue stream: transaction fees. The company charges a 5% fee on all projects that are successfully funded. It also charges PayPal and card processing fees that can vary in amount from 3% to 5%.
info: Yancey previously served as Kickstarter’s Head of Community and Head of Communications. His past positions include being an Editor-in-Chief of eMusic and a music journalist whose work appeared in Pitchfork, New York Magazine, and Village Voice.
info: Perry earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business at Tulane University. He previously served as CEO of Kickstarter. Prior to co-founding te company, he held a variety of jobs, including waiter, disc jockey, electronic musician, preschool teacher, and day trader.
info: Charles earned a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology at Purdue University. He previously served as Head of Design at Kickstarter. His past positions include Principal, Creative Director of Source ID and Senior Strategist at Agency.com.
info: James earned a Bachelor‘s degree from the University of Melbourne. He previously served as Vice President of Engineering at Venmo and was an early hire at Puppet Labs. He has more than 20 years of experience in IT Operations, Engineering, and Security.
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