A documentary film about ice cream trucks. A graduate student who would rather be making chocolate. A sculptor who wants to cast endangered apple varieties in porcelain.
These are some of the projects that have been successfully funded through Kickstarter, an online funding platform that matches artists, inventors, and entrepreneurs with a pool of patrons.
Kickstarter engages in a sort of micro-patronage. Multiple contributions in increments as small as a few dollars and up to $10,000 are pooled until a predetermined funding goal is met within a specific time frame. The funding is neither loan nor investment, and contributions are not tax-deductible. The recipients are encouraged to offer products, services, or other benefits that are often in the form of a project memento; the sense of inclusion in a creative endeavor can be an important part of the appeal.
Kickstarter is open to projects of all kinds, but has attracted numerous food entrepreneurs and artisans who tend to meet the selection criteria of passion, ambition, and creativity. Among the current projects looking for their kickstart is Remedy Quarterly. Its founders are looking for $3,000 to cover the costs to print the first issue of their subscription-based journal of recipes, stories, personal histories, illustration and photography, all centered around the belly-filling, soul-satisfying, feel-good qualities of food. Benefits escalate with funding increments, from a $1 Twitter shout-out to a $2,000 print dedication, recipe submission, and home-baked cookies.
The Ethical Butcher is looking for seed money to open a stand at the Portland Farmers Market next spring. Using heritage pork and lamb bellies from local, sustainable sources, this former vegetarian has developed twenty unique bacon cures flavored with everything from rum to horseradish to watermelon. At a funding level of $50 or more, you can choose a slab of one of the proprietary blends or a private consulting session to devise and name your own cure. There’s a pretty rad $20 t shirt if you can’t swing the full $50.
Both of these projects are about half-way to their goals, and both have cut-off dates before year end, with an all-or-nothing funding requirement for Kickstarter to greenlight the ventures. At a small price, you can help someone’s dreams come true, or maybe kickstart one of your own.