How Kickstarter Works

Josh: Josh Clark

Chuck: Charles W. "Chuck" Bryant

Vo: Voiceover Speaker

Vo: Welcome to Stuff You Should Know from


Josh: Hey, and welcome to the podcast. I'm Josh Clark. There is Charles W. "Chuck" Bryant. Jeri is over there, and we're ready to kick this episode off. [LAUGHS]

Chuck: For just one dollar, you can contribute to Stuff You Should Know.

Josh: Yeah. Can they?

Chuck: No. We're a free podcast. That's why I get less patient with complaints. [LAUGHS]

Josh: Yeah, right. It's a tradeoff.

Chuck: Yeah, it's free. We've got some ads here and there. Live with it.

Josh: Yeah.

Chuck: No, but-I'm just kidding-we don't fundraise or crowdsource or crowdfund.

Josh: No, we just-to put stuff out, we have corporate sponsorship.

Chuck: That's right.

Josh: Not everybody does, though.

Chuck: No, no.

Josh: Not all creatives do have corporate sponsorship, and so luckily since, what, 2009?-there's been something to help people like that out. Artists, creatives who want to get a project underway but can't do it-it's called Kickstarter.

Chuck: That don't have the funds. I'm a big fan of Kickstarter.

Josh: Yeah, it's pretty cool.

Chuck: I remember when it came out, I was like, "This is gonna revolutionize independent artists," because one of the problems, if you're an independent artist and you don't want to kowtow to the Man is to just do your own thing, because the future is now, as far as accessibility to equipment, and you can make a movie right there in your own neighborhood and home pretty easily these days-if you've got the skills.

Josh: Right, yeah. It's true. There's been a DIY spirit-well, yes, if you have the skills, it's important.

Chuck: Well, there's always been that DIY spirit, but it's just the accessibility, this equipment, is like never before.

Josh: Right, they've caught up to one another.

Chuck: Yeah, it's cheaper, you don't have to get film developed, you can edit off your laptop, it's all there for the taking-except it still costs money.

Josh: Yeah, actors didn't come free. That's one thing, so if you want to-

Chuck: Nope. Locations, wardrobe.

Josh: Right, exactly.

Chuck: It all costs money.

Josh: Craft services.

Chuck: Sure, you got to have some peanuts and coffee.

Josh: And that's just for a movie. There's also theaters, there's music.

Chuck: Yeah, I want to do my-I want to travel the world and photograph all the remaining rhinoceros.

Josh: Rhinoceri?

Chuck: Rhinoceri? Rhinoceroses.

Josh: I don't know-I think it-rhinoceroses.

Chuck: It's a photo book; it's a photo project about the rhinoceros.

Josh: In felt.

Chuck: And I want to do that. You can do that, that's an art project. You can get funded.

Josh: You can-if everybody thinks that that's a good idea, which is the cool thing about Kickstarter.

Chuck: That's right.

Josh: So, Chuck, let's talk a little bit about this, right? Kickstarter is crowdfunding, which is a play on "crowdsourcing," which is originally basically just tapping into the hive mind.

Chuck: Yeah, thanks to the internet.

Josh: Right. There's a lot of people out there. If you take their collective brains or talents or thoughts or efforts, put them together through the internet, you can do massive, awesome things, like Wikipedia is originally-or is an original great example of crowdsourcing.

Chuck: That's right.

Josh: Now, if you take all those people and say, "Hey, just hold onto your time, hold onto your volunteering, hold onto your effort, just give me money instead," that's crowdfunding. And Kickstarter is one of the better examples of it, but it's not the first.

Chuck: No, no. It's called micropatronage, if you want to get specific, and it's been around since the mid '90s.'ve done a podcast on microlending, and we have our own Kiva team.

Josh: We've got a killer Kiva team that just surpassed 100,000 loans, and we're coming up on $3 million in loans made.

Chuck: That's right, so if you're interested in helping out-I know we talked about it a lot, but it's been a little while. If you're interested in helping out a business owner, either in the United States or abroad, you can do so at And you can do it as a team, and it's just fun. So Kiva is one great example. remember when that started, when teachers started posted projects for their school, because schools are ridiculously underfunded and teachers had to ask the public to help pay for a field trip or something, you know?

Josh: Yeah, I've seen Waiting for "Superman," man.

Chuck: [LAUGHS] I still haven't seen that. It's been on my list for years.

Josh: Very rarely have I seen a documentary that just got my hackles up like that one. It's really well done.

Chuck: Well, that's because-can anyone make an argument that education isn't worth funding and supporting?

Josh: No, but this does just a great job of getting all sides of the issue out. You've got to-it's one of the best documentaries ever made, easily.

Chuck: Yeah, I need to see that. And that wasn't on my top documentary list, because I hadn't seen it.

Josh: Got to see it.

Chuck: I've got a lot of feedback on that.

Josh: Oh, and also, I want to say thank you very much to all the people who wrote in with suggestions in answer to my complaint that I've seen all the good horror movies.

Chuck: Oh, yeah.

Josh: Apparently I was wrong.

Chuck: Boy, we got a lot of good suggestions.

Josh: Yeah, I can't wait to see some of them.

Chuck: Yeah. Most of them are foreign, it seems like. They're making the good ones.

Josh: Hey, it takes the whole world; it takes a global village to scare Josh.

Chuck: It does. Indiegogo and SellaBand were a couple of other early crowdfunding sites for music and moviemaking. I think Indiegogo does lots of projects now, though. It's not just movies anymore.

Josh: Yeah. Kickstarter has emerged as the go-to site for what's supposed to be creative projects.

Chuck: Yeah. Well, let's talk about this. In 2002, cofounder Perry Chen said, "I want to do this concert here in New Orleans, but it costs a lot of money to throw a big concert, and let me talk to my partners-Yancey Strickler and Charles Adler-and see if we could figure out a way how to do this." And they said, "You know what? We know we can get people to donate a little bit of money to this thing-a lot of people, but how can we do that?"

Josh: You know, I think they met-Perry Chen was waiting tables and was one of the other guys' waiter, and they struck up a conversation about this-I believe that's how Kickstarter got started.

Chuck: Really? That's pretty cool.

Josh: Yeah.

Chuck: So they had the idea, obviously, based on-like we said-Indiegogo and some other crowdfunding sites out there, to start Kickstarter in 2009, but they said, "You know what? We're going to do exclusively creative projects. You can't raise money to pay your rent or pay off your house or anything weird like that."

Josh: And it wasn't-you can't just do a vague plan or something like that. It had to be, "Here is what I'm going to accomplish, here is my project, here is the end result, this is what it's going to be, here's the timeline I want to get this done within, and this is my Kickstarter project. This is what I'm going to hopefully go get funded."

Chuck: My campaign?

Josh: Yeah. But it's creative.

Chuck: Yes. That's right. And they wanted to differentiate themselves and be unique, and being creative only was one of the ways that they did that. Another way they did so was to-and I thought this was a stroke of genius-it's all or nothing.

Josh: Yeah, this makes sense now.

Chuck: Unless you get 100% of your funding, you're not going to get any funding, and Kickstarter is only going to collect-of course, they make money by collecting a little piece of it, 5% commission-only if you reach that funding goal, though, which sets it apart from the crowd, and I think it's pretty genius.

Josh: The whole reason it's genius is this: if you are a creator and you have a project and you get halfway to your goal, your monetary goal, and you take that money, you are obligated, still, to those people who gave you just half of the money you needed to create something, but what you're going to create is inherently inferior to what you would have created had you had all the money you figured out you needed for this project. So if you can take less than all, you're going to set yourself up to make something that you're not proud of.

Chuck: Yeah, or if you don't get funded, you might think, "All right, well, maybe that wasn't the best idea," or maybe go another route, or say, "Maybe that wasn't the best idea. Let me try something else."

Josh: Which is like a crowdsourcing aspect of Kickstarter. You're also saying to the hive mind, "Is this a good idea?"

Chuck: Yeah, and the other cool thing about 100% or nothing is, as a donor or an investor, you know that what you're going to end up with is this finished movie or this finished record album, or this finished photo project. It's not just going to be like, "Well, I just lost that $5 to something that was 30% funded, and I don't even know what I'm going to get out of it now."

Josh: Right, you just basically threw a $5 bill into a busker's guitar case or something, you know?

Chuck: Yeah. Which is something you should do, too. [LAUGHS]

Josh: Yeah, there's nothing inherently wrong with that, but the point of Kickstarter is there's a project that this person has approached you on, and you have said, "That is worth $25 of my money, even if I don't get anything back. I feel good about this project. Not the fact that you're an artist in general or you're a musician in general-this is this project that I'm investing in."

Chuck: That's right. Another interesting facet to Kickstarter is that they do offer rewards as a backer. They require people to offer rewards, so it's not just, "Hey, you're going to feel good about yourself for supporting the arts in my finished movie," you're going to get a copy of the DVD or the CD, maybe signed by the artist. Maybe it's a poster, maybe it's a pin or a button for a $2 donation.

Josh: Right, or maybe it's lunch with me if you kick in a $100,000.

Chuck: Or maybe you're the executive producer if you kick in all the money-or not all the money, but you know, they have different tiers set up and different rewards that align with those tiers.

Josh: Yeah. The thing is is there's rules with this. Like, you can't offer a financial stake in the project or equity. You can't say, "You kick in $25 now, you'll get 50 bucks back when I sell this thing to Carolco Films."

Chuck: [LAUGHS] Where'd you come up with that?

Josh: That's a go-to of mine.

Chuck: Carolco? Haven't they been out of business for, like, 20 years?

Josh: They had a good logo.

Chuck: [LAUGHS]

Josh: It glowed, I believe. And then the other-so when this stuff is all done and up on Kickstarter, basically the creative has said, "I'm responsible for two things. One, I will complete this project if I get funded fully. That means this project has to be done. I can't just take the money and run."

Chuck: No.

Josh: Legally, I think they can.

Chuck: Oh, really?

Josh: Yes. But I think the public shaming that would ensue?

Chuck: Sure.

Josh: It would just not be worth it.

Chuck: That would be your only Kickstarter project.

Josh: Exactly.

Chuck: Yeah.

Josh: And then secondly, you have to fulfill whatever your rewards were. And we'll get into the nuts and bolts about actually creating a Kickstarter project, right after this.


Josh: Hey, Chuck, here's a new concept in eyewear.

Chuck: Let's hear it, buddy.

Josh: Contemporary eyeglasses that are extremely affordable and fashion-forward. What do you think about that?

Chuck: It sounds to me like you're talking about Warby Parker.

Josh: That's right. Warby Parker believes that glasses should be viewed as a fashion accessory and not cost as much as an iPhone.

Chuck: Yeah, and you can get prescription glasses starting at only $95, which includes your lenses. And options include both glasses, reading glasses, and sunglasses.

Josh: Plus they make buying glasses online easy, risk-free, and-most of all-enjoyable.

Chuck: Yeah, and it's really cool. I'm actually a customer myself. They have a home try-on program: what you do is you order five pairs of glasses, they ship them to your house for free, you try them on, you get a feel for them, and then you get feedback from people. Keep them for five days, then mail them back to Warby Parker in a prepaid package.

Josh: That's pretty awesome. And on top of the ease, Chuck, you're actually helping other people, because when you buy a pair of Warby Parkers, they give a pair to somebody in need.

Chuck: That's right. Very good deal. So all you have to do, people, is go to, and you're going to get to choose your five free home try-on frames. Send it back, and choose your favorite pair and order. It's that simple. And when you pick out the glasses you like, you're going to get free three-day shipping on your final frame choice.

Josh: That's right. So go to to start today.


Chuck: Okay, so we said it has to be a creative project. What does that mean, Josh? I think if I fart "The Star-Spangled Banner" on YouTube, that's a very creative project.

Josh: I can't believe you just used the F-word.

Chuck: [LAUGHS]

Josh: You know what? You probably could get that funded pretty easily.

Chuck: I totally could.

Josh: The key is, though-

Chuck: Aaron Cooper would pay for that by himself.

Josh: By himself.

Chuck: [LAUGHS]

Josh: He would liquidate everything he has, just as long as you did that. You're right. The thing is, is to get onto Kickstarter's site, you have to get past the Kickstarter staff. And it's actually not just any Joe Schmo can come along and be like, "I define creativity." As a matter of fact, there are definitions for what makes a creative project, and then on the other end of that is the staff that has to look over a proposal and say, "Yeah, this meets our standards."

Chuck: Yeah, they define it on their website as "art, comics, dance, design, fashion, film, food, games, music, photography, publishing, technology, and theater," and they admit that it is an ever-evolving definition, because creative people are kind of wacky, and they'll submit things that walk the line that they'll have to decide, "Hey, this Chuck Bryant guy, he's kind of a big podcaster, if he wants to fart 'The Star-Spangled Banner' on the front lawn of the White House, that sounds pretty good to me." [LAUGHS]

Josh: Oh, man. You could very easily get onto the front lawn of the White House these days, too.

Chuck: Oh, yeah?

Josh: Yeah, you just jump the fence.

Chuck: Oh, nice. And start fartin.'

Josh: So the thing is, is I think in that sense, on that end of the spectrum, they're a lot more liberal. I don't think the Kickstarter staff is interested in saying, "That's art," or "I don't agree with that art, so that's not really art."

Chuck: Sure, yeah, yeah.

Josh: What they're more concerned with is having-basically becoming an "as seen on TV" website. So the author of this article is Dave Roos, he puts it like, it's a proposal for a project, not for a finished product, so it's not "Hey, buy my DVD," it's "Hey, invest in this project, and you'll get a DVD when it's finished."

Chuck: Yeah.

Josh: That's a huge distinction, because if not, it would just be an online marketplace, and Kickstarter suffers a lot of criticism because it's evolved in that way. But apparently, they're cool with that to a certain degree.

Chuck: Yeah, there was one case-I think it was a couple of years ago-for a watchband that held the iPod Nano. I remember when that came out. They wanted to raise $15,000, and they raised a million dollars-that's the other cool thing about Kickstarter I don't think we mentioned: if you go over, then great, good for you. But basically, what happened was your $25 donation got you that watchband that you can now get online or at Apple stores for 40 bucks. And they did take-they took some flak for that, saying, "Isn't this just a way to buy something before it comes out, cheaper?"

Josh: Yeah, like it's preorder.

Chuck: Yeah, preorder-is that what that's called? [LAUGHS]

Josh: Yeah.

Chuck: Preorder this thing. I know right now, I think the biggest success they've had is that cooler.

Josh: The Coolest Cooler.

Chuck: Have you seen that thing?

Josh: $13.285 million, and I think their original goal was, like, 50,000?

Chuck: Yeah, I mean, I remember when I first saw the little ad for this thing on Facebook, it was awesome. I was like, "Man, that is one cool cooler."

Josh: Yeah, it has a waterproof Bluetooth speaker, it has an ice-crushing blender built in, it is a cooler, too. And again, like we said, this is the crowdsourcing aspect of it. These people came up with the Coolest Cooler, and the world said, "Yes, that product needs to come into existence." And they voted by saying, "Here is way more money than you need, and now, yes, it's basically a preorder." Not only that, this company now can sell out to whoever they want to and sell Coolest Coolers for the rest of eternity.

Chuck: Yeah, license it to Igloo or somebody.

Josh: Right, because it's not a gamble.

Chuck: Right.

Josh: At all. It's already proven itself in the retail market, so there's no gamble whatsoever. So they can just keep making them themselves, or they can expand and attract outside capital, and it's all because Perry Chen and his fellow coconspirators created this website that has all these dimensions to it, even though it's so simple. When placed into the context of the internet, it has-

Chuck: Complications.

Josh: Complications, but also expansions.

Chuck: Yeah, for sure.

Josh: It's pretty cool.

Chuck: Even though there are products like that, 60%-over 60% of products that are successfully funded are music, film, and video.

Josh: So that's a little-

Chuck: Is that a little off now?

Josh: I mean, that's true, but it's flip-flopped some, apparently. So this article, I think, was 2011. From what I saw, the most popular by far, as far as funded projects go, is film and video, then music, then publishing, then art, and then games.

Chuck: Gotcha. Like, what does games mean?

Josh: There's a lot of role-playing games-

Chuck: Oh, really?

Josh: -that get created on Kickstarter. That's another thing too. It's a great marketplace for nontraditional stuff. Like, yeah, you'd probably think of going onto Amazon to look for that, and you might find something, too, but you're not going to find a game that doesn't exist yet on Amazon.

Chuck: Wow.

Josh: I know.

Chuck: You just blew my mind.

Josh: Thanks.

Chuck: I got a few more stats for you. These are current as of today. $1.38-is that billion-?

Josh: Billion.

Chuck: -pledged to projects. Almost 73,000 successfully funded projects. By the time this comes out, it'll probably be past that; 18.5 million total pledges. I'm having trouble with my commas today. But that's basically the public saying, "We believe in donating small amounts of money to projects that we believe in." And I think that's great.

Josh: I do too.

Chuck: I think it's a pretty neat concept.

Josh: And so we were talking about how odd Kickstarter can get sometimes. There's, like, no dearth whatsoever of very weird Kickstarters that have resulted in some pretty cool stuff. Like Zack "Danger" Brown's potato salad.

Chuck: Oh, that guy.

Josh: He was looking for some money to just make potato salad one day and got wildly funded, well past his goal, and ended up holding PotatoStock in his town of Columbus, Ohio, and he made something like 350 or 450 pounds of potato salad. So, like, if you donated, you could come and eat this potato salad.

Chuck: Yeah.

Josh: That was it. That was the Kickstarter. If that's not conceptual art, I don't know what is.

Chuck: Is that how he categorized it?

Josh: That's how I categorize it.

Chuck: Because food is a category, too. Maybe it was both.

Josh: He straddled the line.

Chuck: A food-art project. They do-there are some tips we can give you, though. Kickstarter-successful Kickstarterers-Kickstarters? What do they call themselves?

Josh: Kickstarters.

Chuck: Kickstarters?

Josh: Kickstart people?

Chuck: Kickstart people? They say that obviously you have to start with a very catchy, unique, fun, and/or inspiring idea.

Josh: Potato salad is pretty inspiring.

Chuck: Well, that could be fun or catchy at least. They say you should have a good story, because what you're going to do is you're-you don't have to, but you're encouraged to make a video pitching your idea. And if you've watched some of these, they're all usually just kind of off the cuff and tongue in cheek and fun and low-budge-you know, you don't want to look like you have a lot of money, probably, by making some big production. And you want to appeal to someone. If you've got a great story about why you're doing your project, then that's certainly going to help you get funded.

Josh: Yeah, and that's one of the things about Kickstarter, too, is that you hear about the potato salad thing that became basically an internet meme, it became so popular. The Coolest Cooler, you could find out about on Good Morning America. You can really count the number of Kickstarters on both hands-maybe if you had a third hand, that would be helpful-that you've heard about if you're not, like, a Kickstarter donor, don't really go to Kickstarter.

Chuck: Right, yeah.

Josh: But that leaves 70,000 and change that you've never heard of, and that's the thing with Kickstarter: you create your Kickstarter project's page, and the first thing you do is send it to family and friends, say, "Hey, want to invest in this?" And then you take it out to your social media contacts, and then if-if-it is a really good idea, theoretically, it should take off on its own. It should just spread by word of mouth. Somebody should say, "This is really cool, and I'm going to share it." And Kickstarter makes it easy for you to share-wow, I just sounded like I was pitching Kickstarter.

Chuck: I was just thinking, man, they should get in touch with us.

Josh: But that video aspect, that in and of itself is very shareable. So if you can come up with a cool video to put on your Kickstarter page, then that could easily be shared, and that's a really good way to make the rounds on social media, too.

Chuck: Yeah, they say that every successful campaign begins with an anchor audience, is what they call it. It doesn't necessarily mean you have to have a popular podcast, although we could probably get something funded if we wanted to-

Josh: Especially your idea, with the F-word.

Chuck: Yeah, exactly. [LAUGHS] Your anchor audience could be just your social circle, your friends and your family-

Josh: Your rich uncle.

Chuck: Yeah, your rich uncle. I would just go to him first, before I even went to Kickstarter, see what happens.

Josh: Right.

Chuck: But you should have a good anchor audience. If you're not on social media, if you don't have a solid support group in life, then unless you really catch on somehow, you're probably not going to get funded.

Josh: Yeah. Well, you should be relying on your idea and the catchiness of your pitch anyway, but the fact that you have access to social media is probably a pretty big leg up over somebody who doesn't know how to use Twitter or Facebook, at least.

Chuck: Sure. You're not going to be left alone in your experience, though, because once you do get approved, you will be working with Kickstarter. They're going to have a representative get in touch with you, and they're going to work with you and say, "You know what? You might want to think about these rewards," or, "Your rewards aren't great," or, "Maybe you should have these price points to tie into these rewards." They want you to succeed, because they make their 5% if you succeed.

Josh: Exactly.

Chuck: And you know, I'm sure they want to encourage the arts, too. That's how it started, you know? But we're going to talk a little bit more about those reward levels and a little bit of math and some more controversies, right after this break.


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Josh: Math.

Chuck: Maths, as they say in England.

Josh: Yeah. And we used to say it here, too.

Chuck: Oh, really?

Josh: Until I think the 19th century, and then we started saying, "Why are we saying it like that?"

Chuck: We just say math. Except Hodgman. Hodgman always says maths.

Josh: Yeah, he's got a little bit of the British in him.

Chuck: He likes to think so. All right, so, the math of rewards levels. They've done a little bit of tinkering, just to kind of find out what succeeds and what doesn't. The $25 pledge is the most popular.

Josh: Sure.

Chuck: About 18.4% of pledges are in the $25 range; 50 bucks is the next most, at 13, close to 14%. And, you know, that's-if you set your levels, like, you can have a dollar for your lowest donation level if you want, but you're going to count on-you have to think about your audience. If you think, "I've got lots and lots of people, but they may not want to throw up a bunch of money-throw in a bunch of money, then maybe I should do the dollar level."

Josh: Well, plus, also, you should sit down and think about exactly how much you need to achieve your project, right?

Chuck: Yeah, they say the minimum amount that you need.

Josh: Right, and you really need to sit down and crunch the numbers, not go, "Meh, let's say 20,000." You need to crunch the numbers, know the minimum amount you need-because even if you threw a number out, you might find down the road, like, "Oh, man, this isn't actually enough." So you want to take that number and then add-they suggest at least the 5% commission that they're going to take from it.

Chuck: Oh, yeah, I never thought about that.

Josh: Right. But say your project is to eat a Chipotle burrito, a chicken burrito, and then describe its deliciousness on a graph.

Chuck: Yeah?

Josh: You need eight bucks for that, and some guy did that. He set his goal for $8, he made way more than that-I think he got, like-he exceeded his funding by 1,300%, which is the record-holder, still.

Chuck: Oh, come on.

Josh: And he created a graph of the deliciousness of Chipotle chicken burritos and sent them out to all 270 donors.

Chuck: Yeah, see, naysayers will say that's just a waste of everyone's time and money-

Josh: Conceptual art.

Chuck: -and you should donate that to some important cause. But you know what? It's their money. If people want to donate a dollar for that, then that's their right, you know what I'm saying?

Josh: Right. That's true, man.

Chuck: $100 pledges have the biggest impact on total dollars raised, but they make up less than 10% of pledges. And they recommend you get super creative with your prizes, make them really personalized, you know? If you're a filmmaker, any kind of creative artist, like a musician, it would really help if you personally were offering something like a signed copy or maybe a phone call, leaving your voicemail outgoing message, or something silly like that a lot of people would donate to.

Josh: Right. And you put that as, like, the highest possible goal. And they say that you don't-you're probably not going to get one of those, but why not put it out there in case somebody does want to shell out fifty grand on something silly like that.

Chuck: Yeah, and a good idea is a good idea, because 94% of successfully funded projects exceed their goals. So that means if you're onto something, then you're going to get that money plus some. But there have been some controversies, right?

Josh: There have. So Veronica Mars was canceled. It was a TV show that was canceled.

Chuck: With Stuff You Should Know listener Kristen Bell.

Josh: Right. And they brought it back. They said everybody wanted a movie and-what's his name, Rob Thomas?

Chuck: Yeah, who-

Josh: The guy from-

Chuck: From what?

Josh: -Matchbox 20?

Chuck: No, no, no.

Josh: A different guy?

Chuck: No, the great Rob Thomas. He did the TV show Party Down, which is my, like, top five all-time favorite shows.

Josh: Ah, I gotcha, okay. Sure. Cool dude, then.

Chuck: Yes.

Josh: So he basically said, "We're going to make a movie, and we're going to use this Kickstarter thing to do it." And they did. They raised like five and a half million dollars for the movie just from Kickstarter. And I think it's the fifth-most-funded project in Kickstarter history.

Chuck: Oh, yeah?

Josh: Yeah. But there was some controversy with the way that they offered downloads. Apparently they used Flixster, which a lot of people were like, "I don't want to use Flixster, I use iTunes," or "I use Amazon, just give it to me through that. I gave you guys money to go make this movie; give me the download the way I want to." So apparently, he got in touch with the studio-Warner Brothers, I think-and they said, "Okay, we'll make this right." Because he was saying, like-

Chuck: They offered refunds, I believe. Because the idea was if you donated a certain amount, you got the movie within days of its theatrical release, on your device of choice.

Josh: Yeah. And he had a pretty good blog post-and this is actually kind of a good indicator of what you're supposed to do on Kickstarter. You're supposed to post updates after you reach your goal, like, that's not that-you don't walk away and then come back when it's done, you want to post updates about production, just keep people involved. He had a blog post when all of this hubbub was going on. He said, "You know what? I'm really sorry. More than anything else, I want this day to be perfect for you guys, because this is the day that the Veronica Mars movie that we've all wanted for so long gets released, so it's supposed to be a great day, so whatever you guys need, just get in touch with Warner Brothers customer service and they'll set it right."

Chuck: Nice.

Josh: So he-it's a good example of handling controversy through Kickstarter. But it also kind of underscores the ownership that people who invest in Kickstarter projects feel in the final product, too.

Chuck: Yeah, for sure.

Josh: They're like, "Hey, man, I'm an investor in your movie. I should be treated better than this."

Chuck: Yeah. And along with Zach Braff, who raised about-more than two million dollars for his most recent film, Wish I Was Here, he got a lot of flak because he raised, like I said, over a couple of million bucks, and then got another, like, eight million or so from Worldview Entertainment, a film financier. And a lot of people said, "Hey, man, that ain't cool. You basically said you don't have the money to do this yourself, so you're going to raise the money via Kickstarter because you don't want to give up your final cut or your casting decisions to some film financier."

Josh: Right, like, "We understand that."

Chuck: "You're avoiding the Man and doing it all yourself, so here's some money, and then you go to a film financier, and they give you completion funds or finishing funds."

Josh: Because all these people have already proven they're willing to pay money for it, to see this made.

Chuck: And he basically said, "You know what? I'm not making some different movie. I still have final cut. I never said that wouldn't happen." And so he defended himself, I think, fairly successfully. But a lot of people on the independent creation level hear about Zach Braff making a movie, and they're just ticked off about the whole situation. They're like, "Kickstarter should be for, really, the starving artists, not the guy who made a ton of money on Scrubs, who could either throw in his own money or get financing," and he already had financing lined up, he said, and he bailed on it because they did want final cut.

Josh: Right.

Chuck: So I kind of get both sides on this one, you know? Like, good for Zach Braff if he can find a way to do it without giving up final cut.

Josh: Yeah, but I mean he does serve as a cautionary tale, like, you don't change the terms after the Kickstarter is funded.

Chuck: Yeah, true.

Josh: And he says that he didn't. The whole time, he said that he was going to take the Kickstarter funds, some of his own money, and then get foreign distribution money to fill out the rest. And apparently that's what he said he did.

Chuck: Yeah, and again, though, if people wanted to donate to see another Zach Braff written and directed film, then, great, I've got no problem.

Josh: Right. But that's a separate issue. Like, if he wants to come to Kickstarter and use it, then, yeah, he's not going to-if he shouldn't be here, if people disagree with that, then they're not going to fund it. If people do fund it, then it has nothing to do with you.

Chuck: Exactly. So I found an interesting thing here from Cambridge University. They have some computer scientists that say they have found a way-may have found a way to direct your Kickstarter project to the right audience. They basically examined three months' worth of data from Kickstarter, a researcher named Jisun An, and then plugged it into an algorithm after they found two categories, basically-frequent investors and occasional investors, occasional funders. Built an algorithm to say which projects attracted which type of funder, and what they came up with was the following: if you are a frequent funder, you are more likely to fund projects where it displays good management-like you said, if you're frequently updating the page, if it's really well designed. And it makes sense, kind of like someone who would invest in a company. If they really look like they're buttoned up, they're more frequently going to invest. High-stakes-they said frequent Kickstarter investors are more likely to invest in something with a high fundraising goal, not the $8 Chipotle graph, which makes sense. Has universal appeal-they said the local projects are more likely to get funded by infrequent investors. Long-term investors are more likely to fund something with universal appeal. And if it's fast-growing-if they see a lot of people are investing, the more frequent and most heavily investors-heavy investors?

Josh: Sure. Everybody wants to get in on that.

Chuck: Exactly. But they did say in the end, it's really all about the quality. That's the one caveat of the project. At the end of the day, it still has to be a quality project. Or catch fire in a meme sort of way.

Josh: Yes. Right. Like Meat Soap.

Chuck: Exactly.

Josh: Have you heard of that one?

Chuck: I already know what it is.

Josh: And then there's one-the grizzly coat.

Chuck: Well, what is meat soap? [LAUGHS]

Josh: It's soap made from fat rendered from meats. And it smells like meats, and it's basically bathing in-meat.

Chuck: Meat. It gets you clean.

Josh: So you smell like meat. And then there's the grizzly coat, which is a coat with a hood that looks like a grizzly bear's head. It's pretty cool.

Chuck: Nice.

Josh: There's a lot of weirdness out there on Kickstarter. It's a wonderful little marketplace of idea exchange.

Chuck: Yeah, I mean, if I didn't have my job doing what we do with our great company that we work for, like, paying the bills and keeping the lights on, I would definitely go this route. Like, if it was around in the early '90s, I would have been all over this junk. Because I was out there on the streets making films-

Josh: Panhandling?

Chuck: -for nothing. And the result was indicative of that. [LAUGHS]

Josh: You got anything else?

Chuck: No, sir.

Josh: If you want to know more about Kickstarter, go to Kickstarter and follow all the rules. You will be funded. You can also learn some more about it by typing "Kickstarter" into the search bar at, and that will bring up this article. And I said article, so it's listener mail time.


Chuck: Yeah, I'm going to call this "That Won't Play in Peoria." Remember during our MPAA podcast-I don't think I could remember the name of the city-

Josh: Right, I think we said, like, Sheboygan or Walla Walla or something like that.

Chuck: Yeah, where will it play. So we had quite a few follow-ups, and this one is from Nate Mellor, and Nate said-so Nate works as a temp at a greenhouse, which is interesting. And he said he's fallen behind lately, but wanted to reply about the MPAA podcast. "Chuck was struggling to remember the phrase, 'That will or won't play in Peoria.' Someone has probably let you know this, but if no one has enlightened you as to the origins, I will. I'm told it was in a book at some point in the late 1800s, but even before that, theater groups-burlesque and vaudeville-would use Peoria to workshop shows on the way to Chicago, as it is a fairly large city on the Illinois River. When I was a kid, it was a test market, even. Have you ever had a McDonald's pizza?"

Josh: I remember the McPizza.

Chuck: He says, "No? If no, then you're lucky, because they're terrible. But it supposedly is representative of the Midwest, and according to my father, it was one of the most economically diverse cities in the Midwest." So Peoria, I guess, was just kind of that everyplace near Chicago.

Josh: Gotcha, which explains the phrase.

Chuck: Exactly. "Anyway, I love the show and your sister show, Stuff You Missed in History Class," which we also recommend, by the way. "I listen to every episode, even the pre-Chuck era-except the 10 or so I have to catch up with." So that is from Nate Mellor, and Nate says, "P.S., Every time you end a commercial and say, 'Go to the search bar and type in stuff to get your whatever,' it makes me want to go to whichever site you're plugging, type a bunch of random keys into the search bar, and send you an email calling you jerks-in my head, using Josh's voice." I'm not sure what that means.

Josh: I think it's at face value, is how that's to be taken.

Chuck: Well, Nate, I think you've been temping in that greenhouse a little too long.

Josh: [LAUGHS] What kind of greenhouse are you in there, Nate?

Chuck: Yeah, is it in Humboldt County, California?

Josh: [LAUGHS] Uh. Yeah. Thanks a lot, Nate. That was very nice of you.

Chuck: Indeed.

Josh: If you want to get in touch with us, you can tweet to us at @SYSKPodcast, you can join us on, you can send us an email to, and as always, join us at our home on the web,


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