This spring, three events in the Hacking Reality series at the Academy of the Impossible were dedicated to crowdfunding, in response to the growth in curiosity about these platforms. Creative entrepreneurship can only thrive with the increased digital opportunities for anyone with a few digital dollars to spend to play a role in product development.
Yet the fact that Kickstarter continues to be technically unavailable to Canadians has also added to a perception problem. Growing awareness that a campaign needs to have its funds funnelled through someone in the U.S. — in order to access an associated Amazon Payments account — has landed the platform in the category associated with satellite dishes or radar detectors.
A recent headline like "Le financement par internet à la Kickstarter encore illégal au pays" from La Presse is reflective of further confusion over how it works. Lost in translation is that the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance has advocated that provincial governments change their securities rules in order to emulate the new JOBS act in the U.S. which allows non-accredited investors to pay for a small piece of a startup. The ongoing pattern of having to yield to Silicon Valley for technology-based influence in Canada might be more economically damaging than having all the biggest talents in the country decamp to Hollywood.
Parallel platforms continue to exploit a window of opportunity: Brian Meece of rival RocketHub was at the NXNEi Interactive conference this week to bask in the momentum it has built north of the border. But, like Indiegogo, the featured projects lack the grander ambitions increasingly synonymous with Kickstarter.
Not every project needs to score seven or eight figures in advance funding to merit attention: Beacon Bike Lights, which presented at the Academy in June, set a $5,000 goal for LED devices connected with a zip tie — and surpassed the ambition halfway through the month. The money and momentum to get production rolling, of course, will end up paying dividends for more than 30 days.
Meanwhile, for the low-budget sci-fi feature Ghosts With Shit Jobs, local writer and director Jim Munroe was able to take the completed film to Kickstarter for the sake of supporting a multi-city screening tour. The publicity for the effort also contributed to the ability to sell 400 tickets at the Royal cinema in Toronto. So, in this case, crowdfunding paid off in different ways that were not directly related to production of the finished product.
Whether or not the status of Kickstarter in Canada changes soon, crowdfunding will continue to be on the Hacking Reality agenda in the second half of the year — in the meantime, browse notable examples of crowdfunding efforts at our boards on Pinterest.