You've read the stories before, the lone inventor or small company has built a prototype of the next big thing, a revolutionary engine or a fantastic new design for a motorcycle, and all they need now are "investors" to carry it through. They should try Kickstarter.
Kickstarter projects, no, not the old lever kind, the money kind, have become the current favorite way to crowd fund new companies or individuals with a good idea but not much money. This isn't limited to small amounts, Kickstarter can raise millions of dollars to start, or vastly expand, new companies, build new products, make an event happen, make a movie, write a book, almost anything. Here are some current projects in the technology category to give you an idea of what's happening now.
Lots of money from lots of people
If you haven't heard of it, the way it works is pretty simple, you tell your story, you set a funding goal of how much you need and donations are accepted at various levels, usually starting at $10 dollars or so. If you don't reach your goal, no one pays. If you do, everyone pledged pays, you get the money and move ahead and contributors get whatever was promised in return for their donation based on amount.
With those motorcycle or engine projects, instead of looking for some venture capitalist to give them a ton of money, maybe they should ask you and me for a little.
Kickstarter is a great way to weed out the real from the fantasy. If a designer or inventor can convince enough people that the idea has merit, he gets to build it. If proponents of technologies, like electric vehicles for instance, really believe in them, they can fund them.
No more excuses, what's your idea?
The bigger picture here is how the barriers and hurdles that used to exist are fast disappearing. In the same way that education is opening up at a furious pace with a vast array of free and low cost online resources, even the ability to fund a new business or build a new product is becoming easier. In the past, the old, "we don't have the money," excuse would get everyone nodding their heads at the difficulty and unfairness of it all, now the real hurdle is coming up with a good enough idea that will actually sell. Some people are finding their idea wasn't as wonderful as they believed while others are dumbstruck to find enormous support. This is a fantastic way to get past the "no money" problem and focus on developing a genuinely good idea instead.
It should be interesting to see what shows up on Kickstarter in the future, but it will be even more interesting to see if some of the well thought out but underfunded projects we see here take their idea to that next stage.