Things learnt from Kopi chat Session with Charles Adler, co-founder of Kickstarter
Image above – NUS Enterprise
Charles Adler, co-founder of the world’s largest marketplace dedicated to funding independent creative endeavours, was in town to talk about the stories, lessons and the thinking behind Kickstarter‘s architecture and design.
The ‘Kopi Chat’ held at NUS Enterprise @ Blk71 was a series of talks where prominent players in the start-up community to share about their project in an informal manner, over a cup of freshly brewed coffee (there was actually someone hired to prepare freshly brewed coffee!). In this edition of the Kopi Chat, Charles shared about his journey establishing and growing Kickstarter.
In the world of crowdsourcing, Kickstarter’s dominance was unparalleled. Since its formation in 2009, Kickstarter has enabled thousands of projects to get off the drawing board. It has enabled creatives to realize their dreams and backers to channel their support. More than $2 million has been raised through the Kickstarter platform. Beyond that, Kickstarter has also enabled creatives to build a loyal community of supporters around their products.
Charles Adler himself has been hugely influential in the ideation and formation of Kickstarter, and in this session of Kopi [email protected], he spent some time to share and network with local startups and its founders.
How did he start Kickstarter? What have he learnt? Where was he planning next? In this article, we summarize a few learning points from this session.
You got to follow your passion. Have a passion project.
A passion project is one which you are willing to do even when it keeps you awake in the middle of the night. It is a project you will still do even when it does not pay your bill. It is the project you do because it gives you fulfillment more precious than money. Charles was busy working with his side project while he was working full time as a web designer. His side project, named Pandora, was an online platform to share the portfolio of his artists friends who otherwise has no opportunity to publish their works in more established venue such as art gallery or publishing company (sound familiar?).
Meanwhile, before even knowing Charles, another Kickstarter’s founder, Perry Chen, was also doing his passion project trying to organize a music concert as a way to share his love for music and try to get more people to share the same sentiments. As he was planning the event, he found the cost rising ever higher, disabling him from carrying on with the project.
This upset Perry. He felt that he had to do something. As he scour the online world to look for means to pre-support events, he found out that there were none. This prompted him to start tinkering with ideas that will in the end manifest as Kickstarter.
Two is better than one, provided the two share similar values and goals, and are able to work together.
Kickstarter’s birth was due to the intersection of the founders’ aspirations and passions. As Perry and Charles met, they started collaborating and refining ideas. Charles recounted the times when they would spend an afternoon in a cafe just to throw around ideas and tinker with them. They will then write them up on the whiteboard, discuss them some more, tweak them, stretch them, modify them, until the idea that will become Kickstarter is born.
Charles recounted,”Somebody asked earlier in the day: What’s your process? (We) didn’t have one. We just sort of make, we just did.”
It was the synergy that was induced when two passionate individuals decided to work together that have the highest possibility of ending with something great.
Serving users must be the priority, not an afterthought.
“Less of us, more of them” was the phrase frequently uttered through the presentation. In Kickstarter, the designers and engineers worked hard to ensure that they produced the best quality interface for the people they care the most: the creators. This meant redesigning their page to make important components such as the video section can be enlarged, even if it’s just by a few pixel.
This also means standardizing the typeface and the background color of all the project page so that the creators will be able to focus in things of higher importance such as crafting their story or creating the highest quality video possible, without worrying about less significant matters like typeface or color scheme.
To ensure survival and growth of a company, the leaders have to constantly assess every decision that they make to see if their consumers has always been placed as the priority.