I met last week with Cindy Au of kickstarter.com, the crowd-sourced financing site for creative projects. In talking with her about kickstarter’s approach to project selection, I realized that the site is more than just a way for arts entrepreneurs (and others) to finance their projects, but is actually a way to teach entrepreneurial habits of mind, most specifically specificity of focus, initiative, community (market) awareness, and persistence.
To be successful on kickstarter, creators need to have a laser beam specificity not only on their product but on the specific phases of the project for which they seek funding. Further, one need not only post their project on kickstarter (or any other crowd-sourced funding site) and lie in wait. To be successful, the creator needs to take the initiative to advance their cause within their own communities – mom is often the first contributor. But the savvy proposer will extend their community connections well beyond family to friends, co-workers, and, of course, the target audience for their product, whatever it might be. Finally, if at first you don’t success, figure out why and try again; there is no harm in doing so.
I’ve written here and elsewhere previously about the importance of experiential learning in an arts entrepreneurship curriculum. If there’s a real project, seeking real funding provides a level of experiential learning one can’t garner within the confines of one’s campus. And, while I would not propose that student entrepreneurs use such sites just for experience, when they’re ready to have that first REAL experience, they can do so knowing that even if they don’t make their funding goal, they will still gain from it.
(As an aside I note by way of follow-up to a series of postings about public arts funding that crowd-sourced financing is just one of many public and private sources that artists and arts entrepreneurs can and should have access to in order to find support for their innovative work.)