Kickstarter – The Importance of Ideas

Om Malik has interviewed Perry Chen of Kickstarter. The interview provides important insights, especially as it takes a broader view of the linkages between ideas and creating viable businesses. The tone is sometimes philosophical, but in the most practical sense of that term.

The most important lessons for me related to understanding how ideas can be implemented and impact upon the world. The lessons are as follows:

  • The power of an idea – Crowdfunding as an idea that will have many applications. Every idea can have multiple iterations/ versions/ experiments.  Perry Chen writes on his blog that:

the idea is one thing, and kickstarter is another. kickstarter is the manifestation of the idea in one way, by one set of people. but the idea will outlive kickstarter. people will be funding and building community around their projects, on the web, in this general way, for a long long time. (and we plan for kickstarter to be around for generations).

  • Technological barriers cannot stop ideas –  In the interview Chen mentions that he was not “from the web”. I read this to mean that he did not have the coding background, to build the product. The experience on Kickstarter is a living example of the idiom that “nothing can stop an idea whose time has come”. Perry sums up the idea as follows:

We would like it to be a fundamental tool for the liberation or the acceleration of our own creativity.

  • Disruptive ideas – I always thought Kickstarter (and several other crowdfunding experiements) too be totally cool, in that they help creatives. Chen however locates the idea in a manner I initially would not have of. Kickstarter as disrupting entire markets. Chen provides the following context:

I feel like we’re used to this industrial creative complex of movie studios, record labels and production houses. It wasn’t always that way. This is relatively recent in human history. People have been creating art for tens of thousands of years. Artists have always been hustlers, too.

Crowdfunding can challenge existing markets, or what Chen calls the “industrial creative complex”.

  • Old Ideas and New Technology – In the interview there is reference to the concept of a subscription artist. This means, that the artist has many smaller patrons. Here again is Chen on the subscription artist:

There was this concept of subscription artist — a lot of 18th-century books were written this way.

Mozart, Beethoven had to raise money this way.  They would go out to subscribers and those subscribers would put in money and they would get a copy of the book with their name inscribed inside of it or a copy of the concerto, or a first look at the concert.

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