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With “Quickstarter” projects, Kickstarter is going back to basics

The crowdfunding pioneer never planned to be a platform for million-dollar gadget launches. So it’s celebrating campaigns that are intentionally modest.

With “Quickstarter” projects, Kickstarter is going back to basics
Tape Stickers [Photo: courtesy Kickstarter]

For years, the Kickstarter campaigns that have garnered the most attention have involved high-tech gizmos that rack up millions in pledges. But the crowdfunding platform, which was founded in 2009, was never designed to generate such blockbusters. Its founding mission involved projects that were a lot smaller and more personal.

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Envelope Bag [Photo: courtesy Kickstarter]

Now Kickstarter is trying to remind the world that crowdfunding doesn’t need to be an epic undertaking, with a type of campaign it’s calling a Quickstarter. Devised by Oscar Lhermitte, a French designer based in London, Quickstarters don’t involve new functionality on Kickstarter’s platform–just a manifesto with nine rules that make a campaign a Quickstarter. For instance, a Quickstarter campaign should involve no more than three months of planning, should attempt to raise no more than $1,000 in 20 days or less, and should feature a video shot in a single day without any fancy equipment. Stretch goals, paid marketing, PR, and other standard elements of big-time Kickstarter campaigns are all verboten.

Lazy Postcards [Photo: courtesy Kickstarter]
Lhermitte launched a couple of keep-it-simple campaigns of his own that inspired him to create his rules, including one for packing tape that you can cut up into useful stickers. Kickstarter has embraced his vision, created a Quickstarter landing page, and populated it with an inaugural list of campaigns, including quirky efforts such as Lazy Postcards (which have patterned cutouts where the writing space would normally go) and Envelope Bag (which is, indeed, a Tyvek shopping bag that folds up into an envelope).

Back in 2012, when I profiled Kickstarter’s cofounders for Time, I was struck by the fact that the campaigns that captured their imaginations were for items like music albums and artisanal jam, not smartwatches or game consoles. They were, in effect, Quickstarters. The company’s move to cultivate a new generation of minimalist projects is delightful—and, if anything, overdue.

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About the author

Harry McCracken is the technology editor for Fast Company, based in San Francisco. In past lives, he was editor at large for Time magazine, founder and editor of Technologizer, and editor of PC World.

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