Kickstarter, the site where people back creative projects, is becoming a viable alternative to starting a company. It provides funding and activates a user base that will be interested in your project.
See the case of a wristwatch called Pebble, that could display information from an iPhone. Backers could pledge $99 and were promised a Pabble watch in return. Nearly 60,000 people had pledged close to $9 million. (See their video above).
Other gadgets getting people's funding are the Elevation dock, a sleek stand for the iPhone, or Brydge, which turns an iPad into a laptop resembling the MacBook Air.
Beyond cool devices, the most common projects revolve around film and music. For example, this year at Tribeca Film Festival there were a dozen different Kickstarter-backed films.
To date, Kickstarter has raised more than $200 million for 20,000 projects, or about 44 percent of those that sought financing on the site. The average project size hovers around $5,000. Only projects that meet their stated financing goals receive money.
The site does not charge anything to set up a campaign. But if is successful, Kickstarter takes 5 percent of the final amount. Amazon, which processes the payments, takes 3 to 5 percent.
Other sites for financing through a crowd are Crowdtilt, a service that lets friends contribute money for outings like a beach vacation; Zokos, a start-up that gives guests a way to pitch in for a dinner party; and Gambitious, a financing site devoted to indie game developers.