Kickstarter: The King of Crowd-Funding Has Its Limits in Malaysia

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The concept of crowd-funding has been around for a long time but the internet has provided a means to turbo charge this process. One crowd-funding website in particular has been making headline news since launching in 2009: Kickstarter.

Kickstarter offers an online world to discover, support, and launch creative projects. Unfortunately, creating projects is difficult for Malaysians because the platform requires creators to be associated with the United States or the UK.

Let’s take a look at Kickstarter’s features.

SEE ALSO: 3 Sites for Crowdfunding in Malaysia


What’s different about Kickstarter?

Kickstarter calls itself the biggest funding platform for creative projects in the world. Kickstarter is generally focused on creative-themed projects and, more specifically, projects must fall into 1 of the 13 designated Kickstarter categories: music, theater, fashion, art, photography, technology, publishing, food, design, dance, games and comics.

Platform is the perfect word to associate with Kickstarter because it exists to connect project creators and potential financial backers – Kickstarter doesn’t create or invest in the projects. Furthermore, Kickstarter appears to have learned from the many other crowd-funding websites and built a high successful platform, as can be seen from their huge accomlishments. Over 39,000 projects have been successfully funded, and over US$ 570 million has been pledged to date via Kickstarter.

So, you want to use Kickstarter too? Read our highlights below for creators and backers.


Keypoints for Project Creators

Kickstarter creators are those that want to launch projects and raise funding through the website. Funding is an all or nothing policy in Kickstarter. Creators only receive the pledged funding from the backers, if the project achieves the stated funding goal; otherwise, the project receives zero financial support from the pledges.


There is a specific set of guidelines for creators to follow too. For starters, only “projects” can be funded, which are defined as something with a clear end (e.g. awareness and charity campaigns are not accepted on Kickstarter). Additionally, projects must belong to one of the 13 above-mentioned categories. creators must designate a funding goal, and creators must set a funding deadline (1 to 60 days from the date published on Kickstarter).

Also, it’s important to note that to create a project, you need to basically be either American or British. This restriction naturally makes it very difficult for Malaysians to create projects on Kickstarter. So, if you want to launch a project using Kickstarter, then you better make friends with a British or an American, or wait until Kickstarter opens doors to international markets.

More details about those national creator guidelines here.


Keypoints for Project Backers (Donators):

Backers are the people who pledge financial support to Kickstarter projects.  You can support a project with as little as USD$ 1; however, there are typical incentive rewards to donate more.  A key point to note is that backers cannot fund projects to make financial returns. Backers can only donate money to help projects come alive, and sometimes they receive a non-financial reward for their contributions, which is tied to the supported project. Some examples include, a copy of the CD, a print from the show, or a limited edition of the comic.

Also, it’s important to note that when a backer pledges financial support to a project, the backer is not charged unless the project succeeds at reaching its stated funding goal by the designated date. Therefore, you can worry less about contributing money to a project that may never see the light of day.


Is Kickstarter a Good Platform?


Kickstarter claims 44% percent of the projects on the platform get funded. 39,000 projects have been funded, and over USD$ 570 million has been pledge via Kickstarter. Those are impressive statistics.

Kickstarter also allows creators to attract financial assistance from supporters who may not even know the project creators.


The concept of meeting designated funding targets has also helped weed out the worthy projects from the mediocre ones. Som top projects on Kickstarter include The Pebble, a smart watch optimized for Android and iOs mobile operating systems, the open-source gaming console OUYA, and the role-playing video game Wasteland 2, among others.


As mentioned, Kickstarter has an all or nothing approach in regards to pledged funding. Projects need to achieve their funding goal to receive the financial pledges. Exposing your idea and popularity may make some creators hesitant to use the Kickstarter platform.

Additionally, Kickstarter doesn’t accept all project submissions to appear on the platform. For the ones that don’t get the thumbs-up from Kickstarter, their one opportunity is lost, and they have to explore other avenues. So, you can argue that only the most worthy (as decided by Kickstarter) projects can get started with the funding process. This can be a caveat for many aspirants, who are advised not to pin their hopes on this platform entirely to meet their funding goals. With regards to the project submission process, there have also been complaints on consumer forums about the lack of adequate response to queries.

There have been instances of creators not following through with their projects after reaching their funding goals.

Finally, the fact project creation is limited to the British and Americans is a key weakness for Malaysia creators and the rest of the international market.


Kickstarter in Malaysia

Since project creators are limited to the UK and the US, Kickstarter projects are sparse in Malaysia. At the time of writing this, there were no projects open for pledging and only three successfully funded Malaysian projects listed.

One Malaysian Kickstarter project is ULTRA, which marries cutting-edge fashion with eco-responsibility. The project funded to the tune of 118% and also made it to the Paris Fashion Week. ULTRA uses innovative and sustainable material (all sourced from Malaysia and neighboring countries) to craft made-to-order clothes.

Another successful Malaysian project belongs to the photography category. Titled ‘Stateless Rohingya Refugees of Burma’, this project by Saiful Huq Omi puts the spotlight on the forgotten Muslim ethnic refugee minority – Rohingya – who are yet to be recognized by the military junta in Burma. Upon the completion of the project, Huq Omi will collaborate with UNHCR to make the photographs public, through exhibitions and publications.

A third successfully funded Malaysian Kickstarter project is ‘Birds of Borneo’ by Andrea Gabriel. It is a collection of 12 paintings of birds from Borneo and Malaysia, which will be offered in limited edition prints, as originals, and in the form of greeting cards and calendars. Gabriel’s artistry has not gone unnoticed on Kickstarter, with the project being funded 135% its target funding goal.

What do you think about Kickstarter? Have you backed or created a project? Share your thoughts in the comments below.  Also, stay in touch with us by registering for our  free e-newsletter here.


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Photo credit: V&A Steamworks / Foter.com / CC BY


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