I recently penned an article for Design Quarterly (Australia) about the concept of crowd funding and how it can help designers get their ideas off the ground. My husband introduced me to the concept about a year ago via the website Kickstarter. For those of you not yet familiar with the idea, crowd funding is a platform that enables people to get funding for their projects from the backing of an online community.
It’s quite a simple process:
- The “Kickstarter” (or project person/creative) loads a detailed description of their project onto the site. eg http://www.kickstarter.com
- They indicate how much money they need to raise and in what period of time.
- They create a reward structure outlining what a backer will receive in return for their funding.
- People like you and me pledge funds if we like the project.
- If the project person receives all the funds they need in the time period – they get the money! If not, no funds.
- The project person then produces their project and rewards their backers.
Kickstarter, one of the first platforms of its kind, has caught on like wildfire. Many designers, who otherwise would have had no financial means, have been able to produce their projects with the help of backers, mostly strangers from across the globe. I interviewed a number of Austrailian “Kickstarters”, including Rob Ward (along with Chris Peters) who are responsible for the Opena case and Quad Lock – both Kickstarter funded projects. Amongst all the success stories, there have been some sensational standout projects like TikTok / LunaTik which raised almost one million dollars to fund their project. It’s worth noting that this goal was almost $75,000 over their target. In other words, designers can be “over-funded” – and keep it all. Just recently over $10, 000, 000 was raised in record time for the Pebble watch for iPhone and Android, from a pool of almost 70,000 backers!
Okay, so why am I rambling on about this? For a few reasons:
1. I love good design and I love that crowd funding can transform an idea on paper into something real and tangible.
2. It means that for a small contribution, I can get involved in helping someone fund their dream.
3. I can find wonderful things to buy!
My husband has purchased a few innovative designs including one specifically for me. It is called the Pen Type-A and I’m going out on a limb by saying that it is the most beautiful and functional pen I have ever owned. It trumps any Mont Blanc or Caran d’Ache, in my most humble opinion. The pen has been beautifully crafted and well-conceived. It works like a dream. It looks like something Steve Jobs would have been immensely proud of. As a designer, sketching is in my blood and I am always on the lookout for good pens. You might say that I am mildly pen-obsessed. In fact, I wrote every one of my high school final exams with the exact same pen – a juicy, flowy, liquidy, inky writing utensil of note.
This was their Kickstarter shpiel:
We love Hi-Tec-C pens. If you’ve ever written with one, you know what we’re talking about. If you haven’t heard of these pens, check out jetpen’s blurb. http://bit.ly/hitecc.
Pen Type-A is a stainless steel replacement for the Hi-Tec-C’s cheap plastic housing. To us, the Hi-Tec-C cartridges deserve a more durable home. The design is minimal, the construction is super solid, and indestructible to protect and cherish these coveted ink cartridges. It has a dime screw on one end to allow for easy ink cartridge replacement. Its shaft is a solid smooth surface with no branding, no fancy grip or grooves, and just the right thickness and weight so it feels comfortable in your hand. The entire piece is milled and turned from a block of 304 stainless steel. The raw steel finish today is how it’ll look 50 years from now. This thing will last forever. The pen slides slowly into its sleeve, which doubles as a ruler. The notches on the ruler are in cm and inches. An internal lip at the bottom of the sleeve protects the tip from getting shoved in any further than it should. The tiny amount of space between the sleeve and the pen creates an effect like a pneumatic cylinder, so the pen slides in slow and smooth.
I received my pen a few days ago through my husband’s Kickstarter contribution, but if you love this baby as much as I do, you can get your own one here. In the interim, enjoy the pictures I took of my new little baby.