Have you heard of Kickstarter? It's part of the new "crowdfunding" fundraising craze, meant to give starving-artist types a chance to raise money for their creative projects by enlisting the power of grassroots social networking on the Web. A similar example of "crowdfunding" is "IndieGoGo," which also affords everyday entrepreneurs the chance to try their hand at grassroots fundraising.
I recently stumbled across this video by a seemingly earnest hipster named Josh, who is--like 90% of white twentysomethings--interested in one day opening his own coffeeshop. Josh put together the following video as a promotion for his project, hoping to pull in more donations:
I'm not sure if the video received much in the way of fundraising dollars, but it did inspire this hilariously angry rant by a Brooklyn blogger.
All of this got me thinking about the whole Kickstarter/crowdfunding idea, and whether or not it's a good idea. For one thing, it seems to open the doors for any and everybody to start soliciting money from their friends and contacts for every little vanity project that comes to mind. On one hand this is very American, very power-to-the-little-people. But who is going to donate money to all these upstart causes? It seems like mostly it will result in a lot more depressing failures and half-hearted small business attempts that fall flat after the initial burst of ambition and funds dries out.
No offense to my friends who may one day hit me up to support the funding of their album recording or to help finance their lifestyle while they work on an "important book," but I'd rather give my money to established nonprofits with professional fundraising teams and systems of accountability in place to make sure my investment makes a difference.
Still, I suppose the idea is that in crowdfunding, as in anything Internet, the cream of the crop will eventually rise to the top. Projects that are worthy and compelling will in theory succeed, and everything else will flounder until mercifully abandoned.
And so on that note, which of my 10 ideas for potential entrepreneurial ventures would you hypothetically support if I hypothetically started a Kickstarter campaign one day?
- A British East India-themed colonial/tropical bar (think Raffles Hotels) specializing in fine IPAs, imported rums, and a cigar salon.
- A food truck that specializes in artisan chicken nuggets from free-range local farms
- A salon-esque cafe that sponsors a lecture series and includes a back room pamphlet press that revives the lost art of Thomas Paine-style pamphlets
- A pocketwatch boutique that doubles as a tea room
- A Margaret Thatcher-themed "Britain in the 80s" pub
- A cask ale tasting room, with fine food pairings
- A gluten-free market and pastry shop named "Kira's"
- A hyper-local raw food garden restaurant where you pay a set fee to go out in the backyard to pick all your food straight off the plants to eat.
- A milk and cookie shop where for $3 you can pick a fresh, warm cookie and a glass of milk (of any kind, including almond milk)
- A church-potluck themed hipster bar, with an interior that looks like a fellowship hall and fine food that includes artisan casseroles, cobblers and crock-pot dishes.