Kickstarter, the crowd-funding website, began in 2009 with its first successful project, a small piece of art called Drawing for Dollars. The total amount raised was $35.
Since then, site users have pledged more than $1 billion, funding things such as music, an Oscar-winning film and the first telescope headed for space that donors can use.
Yancey Strickler, Kickstarter chief executive officer and co-founder, said the site broadcasts a variety of projects across the internet and creates communities around those ideas.
Monetary gain from those ideas is not the aim. Strickler explained, "The way we normally think about ideas now, especially the past 30, 40 years is that only ideas that have the potential to make someone else money are the ones that tend to get funded. If you just have something that you're excited about that you think would be cool that you would just like to see exist, there really hasn't been an option available.
"We wanted Kickstarter to be a place where ideas happen just because people want them to," he said. "You don't have the other component of 'Is this a good business model?' or something like that. Now, many of these projects do go on to become working businesses or make money or, like, a restaurant that will survive for years. But the initial inspiration is just simply to make something. So we see something very beautiful in that. ... Just wanting it to exist should be reason enough. It shouldn't have a need to make money for somebody else."
One of the most popular projects funded by Kickstarter is a new Veronica Mars movie. "Next Friday it will open in theaters," Strickler said. "It will be available on iTunes and different places like that. This is something that Rob Thomas and Kristen Bell, the creator and star of Veronica Mars, have been wanting to do for years. And for six years they have been told no, people don't care."
But people did apparently care. As of this writing, the project raised $5,702,153, with a total of 91,585 supporters who backed the effort.
So how does Kickstarter -- a for-profit company -- make its money? If a project is successfully funded -- meaning that it raises the amount of money it needs -- Kickstarter charges a five percent fee of what is raised.
So what kinds of projects doesn't Kickstarter help find funding?
Strickler said, "Really, the only thing you don't see on Kickstarter are charitable projects. So the site is reserved for people making creative things. That's pretty much anything you can imagine. But we are a for-profit company, so I think it would be wrong for us to make money out of someone's medical expenses or something like that. So we are focused just on that but really anything creative and anything that might come from your imagination."