Thursday, May 13, 2010

Do We Need Kickstarter?

At Uncharted, we’re at yet another crossroads. I know we talk about crossroads as if we’re hitting a crossroads every three feet, but in a way we are.

We’ve come a long way. We’ve gone from a clunky Joomla-powered site to a much less clunky Ruby on Rails-powered site. I’m no longer embarrassed, I told my Uncharted compatriots a month ago, to invite people to visit us – – and contribute their own photos and stories. We’ve got a great product being made by good people.

We just need money.

Specifically, money for improvements. We’re thinking of moving from RoR to PHP. We’d like the ability to add video to our site – something that’s critical for the social web. We want a mobile site. We want the ability to post links and not have them blow up.

We’ve done a lot with a little. Working with programmers in India, we’ve built a $100,000 website for about $10,000. We’ve got a small but growing audience, and dedicated staffers working for free.

We just need money.

Maybe Kickstarter can help us.

Yes, indeed, it is a crowdsourced funding engine, kind of like the things I’ve made fun of. But if you’ll note in my earlier screed, I did say this kind of thing would likely work in niche products such as ours, and perhaps not in general interest products. And I’ll be selfish and say I like the approach that the funding is just that – funding. It’s not an investment. Those who contribute may get a reward – a t-shirt, something like that – but they’re not financially vested. They’re emotionally and creatively vested, which might even be better.

Though my cynical nature says this: Meh. Actually, it shouts “MEH!” But maybe I shouldn’t We ought to give it a try. I'm definitely bringing this up at the next tenants' meeting.

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