What is Kickstarter?

Wondering how to start a Kickstarter? Kickstarter, a website that helps people with crowdfunding projects, allows anyone with an idea to see if there is demand for their particular product or service.

The best way to see if a new product or service has a potential customer base is to find out if people are willing to pay ahead of time with crowdfunding.

Through Kickstarter, users can help to fund new, creative ideas by making monetary pledges to other users. 

Not only will Kickstarter help you gain the funds you need to make your idea a reality, it also creates a community of supporters around the project who want to see it succeed. 

These are the types of creative projects Kickstarter is best used for:

  • Art (design, music, theater, dance, crafts, etc.)
  • Writing (books, comics, graphic novels, etc.
  • Journalism (written and video documentary)
  • Games (video and board)
  • Photography
  • Technology
  • Fashion
  • Film

Kickstarter vs. Indiegogo

Indiegogo offers the flexible-funding choice to allow you to keep any raised funds even if you don't meet your original funding goal, while Kickstarter's model requires the goal to be met before any money will reach you. This might make Indiegogo seem more appealing, but keep in mind that Kickstarter is a more popular website with far more users and traffic than Indiegogo.

Rules in Starting a Kickstarter

There are several rules that must be followed when beginning a Kickstarter project:

  • The project must plan to create a product or service meant to be shared with consumers.
  • Projects must be straightforward and honest so that no one misunderstands the plan and creators don't hide their intentions.
  • If a gadget or an equally complex product is the plan of the creator, an actual prototype must be shown to backers, not a photorealistic example.
  • Projects cannot raise money for charities, political funds, or social causes, but nonprofits may use Kickstarter to create projects.
  • Any money raised must be used to create the product or service originally stated by the creator of the project.
  • Funding through Kickstarter is not the same as investing, which is not allowed.
  • Creators must not promise to share profits or any cash with backers once their project succeeds.
  • No hateful or violent speech, or discriminant, intolerant, or pornographic material can be used.
  • Projects must be entirely original and not plagiarized in any way.

The following types of products and services cannot be offered via a Kickstarter project:

  • Anything that claims to prevent, cure, or treat diseases or illnesses by any means
  • Alcohol, drugs (nor any paraphernalia), tobacco, energy drinks or food
  •  GMOs or living animals
  • Money-managing, credit, or any money-lending
  • Travel or phone services, like expense-paid trips or prepaid lines
  • Resold items -- all products must be entirely created by the project designer
  • Guns, weapons, or weaponry replicas and accessories

How to Explain an Idea on the Kickstarter Project Page

First, you must make it clear what you plan to accomplish with your project and all that it entails. Then, you need to explain why funds are needed and how you plan to use them.

How to Determine a Funding Goal?

When deciding on a funding goal, keep in mind that Kickstarter runs crowdfunding with the all-or-nothing idea.

The funding goal must be completely reached before any money will be moved from the backers to the project. Backers make pledges until the goal is met. They won't be charged anything if the goal is short, even by a small amount. If the goal is reached before the campaigns ends, pledges can still be made until it's over. This is called a threshold pledge system.

You'll want to create a goal that covers all of your needs for production and shipment of your product, but be careful not to set it too high to meet. Keep in mind you'll need money to cover the distribution of promised rewards to backers, processing fees for Amazon payments (as high as 5 percent), as well as the 5 percent Kickstarter charges for fully-funded projects.

Who Can I Get Pledges From?

You'll want to start with your local communities, friends and family, and any fans of your products when looking for initial pledges. This network of people will also be vital to advertising your project beyond those you know personally. 

If you need help with starting a Kickstarter, you can post your job on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.