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The Kickstarter Diaries, Pt. 2: An Epic Road Trip, Falling Short and Rocking the Vote

Written by in Profiles

If you’re a regular around here, you may have caught part one of our Kickstarter Diaries series a few months back. It introduced Against the Grain readers to three amazing design projects trying to make their way in the world with help from this crowd-funding platform. Now that the funding deadlines have long passed, we wanted to check in and see how each project is going.

We hope it gives you a little inspiration and insight for your own self-directed design projects. C’mon, we just know you have some dream project ideas sitting in your desk drawer. Maybe Kickstarter can help you make them happen, too.



To Be Brave
Funding goal: $3,000
Funding pledged: $3,795

What happened next: Jennifer Sukis took a leave of absence from frog design and set out on what she tells us was an incredible road trip across the country. Along the way she interviewed folks who ditched safe life paths to go in totally different directions—ones that felt closer to their values. “All of the interviews were really intimate, enlightening, intense experiences,” she says. “Staying with so many people I’d never met before and being welcomed into their homes gave me this new appreciation for the openness and kindness of people. Seeing the landscapes change from south to west to north to east was beautiful. I literally feel like I may have worn my eyes and ears out, it was so much to take in.” Now she’s working on turning all that material into a book, as well as tackling a freelance assignment in India.

Lesson learned: “This was a really personal project,” she says. “Almost all of my backers were friends and family, which is how I think it is for most Kickstarter projects. Without lots of PR, success is often a reflection of how many people you know.”



3rd Chicago International Poster Biennial (CIPB)
Funding goal:
Funding pledged: $21,310

What happened next: We’re huge fans of this poster biennial, so it was a bummer to see it fall so heartbreakingly short of its funding goal. If you don’t reach the full funding amount on Kickstarter, your project receives zero funds. So what’s this mean for CIPB? The third biennial will bump from 2012 to 2013 to give organizers time to seek out sponsors and grant providers, as well as launch another Kickstarter campaign. Lance Rutter, President of the CIPB association, says the group had hoped to overshoot the original $25,000 goal, because the event budget is more than double that amount (not including a range of in-kind donations).

Lesson learned: “Don’t rely on social networking to spread the word,” Rutter says. “The vast majority of funding will probably come from people you already know well, who are already big fans or customers. Pick up the phone and call them or send them messages directly as much as possible. Also, recruit fans who can act as evangelists and make personal contacts on your behalf.”


Field Guides to Ensuring Voter Intent
Funding goal: $15,000
Funding pledged: $20,761

What happened next:  Dana Chisnell, principal researcher, UsabilityWorks, started this project to create a series of field guides to help public officials make easy, incremental improvements to ballot designs across the country. The first four have already been printed and are being handed out to election officials. You can download the PDFs for free. They cover everything from legibility—type size, choice, alignment, etc.—to clear writing and graphics. Since the project exceeded its goal, Chisnell says she’ll be able to pay a little bit for design and editing rather than asking the designers and editors to work for free.

Lesson learned: “We met and exceeded our funding goal because I was shameless in asking people to back the project,” Chisnell says. “I talked about it All. The. Time. I worked on the Kickstarter fundraising at the expense of my real, paying work on many days. You just have to be relentless about marketing.”

Do you have any experience with Kickstarter? Please share your thoughts and tips in the comments.



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