Kickstarter Partners With New Orleans

The company responsible for funding everything from films to food trucks Has chosen the Crescent City to debut its newest initiative.
Photo courtesy of Todd Seelie for New Orleans Airlift.
The musical village Dithyrambalina — a sonic playground, performance venue and laboratory for musical architecture in New Orleans created by New Orleans Airlift — received over $60,000 in funding through Kickstarter from 655 backers on Oct. 30, 2013.

Last year a Delorean hovercraft cruised the San Francisco Bay, virtual reality glasses called Oculus Rift took the tech world by storm, and a short documentary film called “Inocente” took home an Academy Award.

None of these would have been possible without Kickstarter.

Since its launch on April 28, 2009, Kickstarter has served as a web space where creative people pitch their ideas for everything from documentaries, art books, restaurants and bassoon quartets, to video games, hip-hop albums, comic books and food trucks. The public is then invited to become a backer to whichever projects they like.

In reward for their support, backers receive various rewards that depend on how much they’ve given. Rewards can range from their name credited on an album to signed copies or special screenings.

If the funding goal for a project is met within the creator’s deadline, the project receives that funding. If the goal is not met, backers are not charged and no money changes hands.  
It’s fair to say the concept works.

On March 3, 2014, Kickstarter passed the $1 billion mark in money pledged to projects. More than half that amount was pledged in just the past year – March 2013 to March 2014. Projects attracted over 7.3 million backers spanning 224 countries on all seven continents.

The result? Just short of 74,000 successfully funded projects.

More than 850 of these projects are in the New Orleans area, where Victoria Rogers has been assigned to lead the company’s first local partnership.

“I’m working with organizations like the New Orleans Film Festival, Idea Village, Propeller, Launchpad, 52businesses, 4.0 Schools, and Platforms Fund,” Rogers says. “We’re going to be guiding people through the funding process – in part through different events and workshops.”

Rogers says New Orleans was chosen as the new program’s inaugural city for many reasons.

“Obviously this is a culturally rich place with a very strong entrepreneur community,” she says. “In a way, it’s also a way for us to return to our roots.”

The New Orleans connection
Kickstarter’s founder Perry Chen lived in New Orleans for eight years as an artist and waiter, and it was here that he came up with the idea for the company.

“Back in 2002, Perry was living in New Orleans and he really wanted to bring some DJs to Jazz Fest to do a show but he had no money,” explains Julie Wood, spokesperson for Kickstarter. “At that point he thought there should be a way to ask people who were interested in the show to put the money up front.”

Chen returned to New York in 2005 and, with the help of co-founders Charles Adler and Yancey Strickler, launched Kickstarter in 2009.

The Name
“It’s perfect because it explains exactly what we do,” Wood says. “When we first started out it was spelled without the ‘e.’ That was a fad back in 2009, to leave letters out. I think the guys pretty quickly realized that the fad was probably short lived though. I think it was only a few months before they put the ‘e’ back in.

“There are, of course, other ways to raise money for an idea, but we are by far the biggest site like this on the Internet,” Wood says.  

“Our marketing has really been word of mouth,” Wood says. “Some of the projects have been pretty high profile –the Veronica Mars movie, Oculus Rift, the movie by Zach Braff, a project from “Reading Rainbow” – so I think that has really helped.”

Kickstarter has also begun hosting its own events, including a block party in New York, and film festivals in New York, Los Angeles and London.

You will not see any ads on All of the company’s revenue comes from the 5 percent fee that is charged to successfully funded projects.

What this has done is add an extra financial incentive for the company to help creators.

 “Most of us spend our days working with creators who are doing Kickstarter projects, providing them with whatever help and guidance they need,” says Wood, who is one of 96 employees based out of Kickstarter’s Greenpoint, Brooklyn, headquarters.

“Our success rate has been pretty consistent since our launch – about 40 percent,” Wood says. “Approximately 2.2 million people have backed more than one project. There’s a real community around Kickstarter.”

Most Funded Project
In 2013 the Pebble E-paper– a digital watch you customize with apps that works with an iPhone or Android phone – set out to make $100,0000.  The idea received over $10.2 million, becoming the highest funded project in the company’s history.

This past August, however, a new winner was crowned – the Coolest Cooler. A cooler that features, among other things, a built-in rechargeable blender, Bluetooth speaker and USB charger, the Coolest Cooler crushed its modest $50,000 goal to bring in over $13.2 million.

Biggest Challenges
“We’ve had some incredible success, but we still represent a new way of creating things so there’s still some skepticism and confusion over how it all works,” Wood says. “The Internet is still a young place filled with new and interesting ways to reach out to people.”

New Orleans Community Partnership
The future of Kickstarter is focused on spreading the word about the Website.

“This year we’re making an effort to focus on our funded projects and how they are existing in real life,” Wood says. “For instance, we just added signage to the MoMA design store in New York that lets people know that the store has more than 30-odd items that were funded by Kickstarter.”

This is also where the new community partnership program fits in.

In a formalized program called “Kickstarter Create,” Kickstarter representatives will provide mentorship, access to the creator community and educational resources.

Creators will be selected by Kickstarter and the organizations. The goal will be to showcase launched projects at New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (March 20-27, 2015) and Launch Fest (April 2015).

Project pages are due Dec. 19. Participants will be selected Jan. 8, 2015.

To get on the mailing list, or for more information on Kickstarter Create, email


Thanks to Kickstarter pledges, an old New Orleans home became Dancing Grounds’ state-of-the-art dance facility that includes two studios and community space.


Local creator Tippy Tippens’ Bird Project was funded through Kickstarter in 2010. The project’s black, bird-shaped biodiesel glycerin soaps enveloping a white, ceramic bird keepsake were sold to fund BP oil-spill cleanup.


The following are a sampling of projects that were looking
for funding last month.

Here’s My $2
– Economic Impact Study on the Film Industry in Louisiana.

The New Orleans Tattoo Museum
– a “living, interactive tattoo museum”

“Leah Chase: Faith, Family & Food”
– documentary film on the “Queen of Creole Cuisine”

“Allen the Alligator Counts Through New Orleans”
– children’s counting book

The Oyster Bed
– a stylish reinvention of an oyster plate





Categories: The Magazine