Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Kickstarter’s billion-dollar man

kickstarter.jpg
kickstarter2.jpg

Kickstarter’s Yancey Strickler on how his crowdfunding website became a phenomenon

“On a Tuesday evening in 2009, a guy raised $35 from three people,” Yancey Strickler tells ShortList, seeming still surprised about it. “But that was huge because it said, ‘Holy sh*t, this thing actually works!’” Five years on from that first pledge (for an online illustration resource called ‘Drawing For Dollars’), and Kickstarter – the crowdfunding website Strickler co-founded – gives anyone with an idea the power to raise $1m in a day. In fact, as of last week, a total of $1bn has now been pledged to fund local art projects, space missions and, er, a DeLorean Hovercraft (above).

So how did it happen? And why are people just giving away money in a recession? “That’s the question every investor asked back when we were just three guys with an idea. For me, Kickstarter’s success is that it appeals to human instincts. We all want to be part of something bigger. And people get a direct say in our culture – it goes back to the Medicis and the patron system."

But while Da Vinci would have approved of the crowdfunded, human-powered helicopter, how does one gain backing?

“Be your authentic, weird self,” says Strickler. “That’s what we’re most proud of – the bonkers stuff, like the family who conducted a census of all the squirrels in their park.”

Squirrel-wrangling aside, Strickler is proud of the impactful stuff, too: “The Oculus Rift [virtual-reality headset] is sick. It’s the one thing in the history of the internet that really lives up to the hype. People are going to lose their sh*t.”

It’s a refreshing turn of phrase for a man worth billions: “Honestly? I see it as a privilege to serve this concept. I’m not interested in owning a yacht or seven Siberian tigers. But I tend to buy a lot more drinks these days…”

(DeLorean image: Nick Baker)

Related

ryno2.jpg

The bizarre one-wheeled motorcycle

spin3.jpg

Get your own perfect spinning top

google-glass.jpg

UK's Top five wearable gadgets

main1.jpg

Leica's incredible paper camera

dash.jpg

The Dash Smart headphones

box3.jpg

JJ Abrams' Mystery Box Playing Cards

More

Fidget spinners might contain deadly levels of lead

Is your toy slowly poisoning you to death?

by Gary Ogden
02 Jun 2017

We might be about to get smartphones that charge fully in five minutes

An Israeli start-up claims it's going to go into production next year

by Tom Mendelsohn
15 May 2017

5 of the best fidget toys on the market right now

Tackle your knuckle cracking head on

by Matt Tate
10 May 2017

Some Italians have created a phone cover that also makes espresso

No, we don't know why either

by Tom Mendelsohn
08 May 2017

New app will rebalance the London rental market in favour of landlords

Finally, the capital's hard-up property owners will get their due with Rentberry

by Tom Mendelsohn
26 Apr 2017

This knife-toting robot playing stabby hand will make you nervous

I for one welcome our new robot overlords

by Tom Mendelsohn
25 Apr 2017

Now you can turn your iPhone into a retro mac

For the man who has everything

by Tom Mendelsohn
21 Apr 2017

The best turntables of 2017

How the tables have turned

by David Cornish
20 Apr 2017

The Tamagotchi is back

Great news for fans of neglecting responsibilities and watching tiny creatures literally shit themselves to death!

by Emily Reynolds
11 Apr 2017

Self-healing smartphone screens could exist by 2020

Could it be curtains for shady smartphone repair stalls across Britain?

by Tom Mendelsohn
05 Apr 2017