Perry Chen, 33, has worked as a day trader, a waiter, a gallery owner, a preschool teacher, an author, and a musician. “So I can empathize with pretty much anyone who uses my site,” he says of Kickstarter, a year-old platform that lets users crowdsource funding for creative ventures, which he cofounded with Yancey Strickler. Featured projects range from a sustainable butcher shop to a comic-book series about a volcano goddess; each gets its own landing page, and donors are enticed by customized incentive ladders: Say you give $100–one creator might offer a copy of her finished work, while another would credit you in the acknowledgments of his film. But it’s all or nothing. “If ventures don’t meet their fund-raising goals, the donations aren’t processed,” says Chen. (Kickstarter takes a 5% cut.) Roughly half of Kickstarter’s hopefuls don’t succeed, but some 1,000 have been funded. “We’re really helping people make things happen,” Chen says. “It’s like sitting in a big bowl of love.”
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