Not sure whether you have come across the crowd funding website, Kickstarter. Founded in the USA in 2009 it provides a channel to raise funds for creative projects. As of yesterday, it had raised over USD507 million for 37,065 projects out of just under 89,000 launched projects.
Only projects that meet their funding goal in full receive the pledged money. Everything on Kickstarter must also be a project. A project has a clear goal, like making an album, a book, or a work of art and a project must eventually be completed and something produced by it.
Kickstarter has funded a diverse array of endeavours ranging from indie films, music, stage shows and comics to journalism, video games, art, technology and food-related projects. People cannot invest in Kickstarter projects to make money. They can only back projects in exchange for a tangible reward or one-of-a-kind experience, like a personal note of thanks or initial production run of a new product. I have personally backed a number of projects including the Yolkr (an egg yolk separator – Christmas present for my kitchen gadget loving mother-in-law); Intùiti Creative Cards (a deck of cards to spur creativity which will make an appearance in future workshops) and Makeblock (an aluminium based construct platform that can be used to build robots, machines, toys or even art-ware).
What I find so compelling about the Kickstarter proposition is that entrepreneurs have found a way to circumnavigate the traditional routes of funding which are often inherently risk adverse and that it is such a good way of prototyping an idea. The market checks out your proposition or idea and then backs you or not. A global, real time, focus group.