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Micro: Kickstarter helps projects get a crowd-funded boost

Omar L. Gallaga
SmartThings, a fully funded project on, is one of many projects that anyone can contribute to.

Kickstarter, a 3-year-old website, has become so popular that its name is now shorthand for “crowdfunding.” And what is crowdfunding? It’s when a bunch of people contribute money to get a project off the ground.

In the case of Kickstarter, those contributions can be purely altruistic, but many projects get funded by promising backers perks like personalized gifts or early access to a product. Sometimes imaginative prizes are unlocked when certain “stretch goals,” or benchmarks beyond the original funding goal, are reached. Projects have a time limit to reach their goal, and if a project is funded by that time, Kickstarter charges a 5 percent fee to the collected funds.

Tech products in particular have done very well on Kickstarter. Among the most-funded projects have been video games, accessories for smart phones and Pebble, an e-paper watch that raised more than $10 million from nearly 69,000 backers back in April. Artists, industrial designers, publishers, photographers and many others with projects to fund have done well using Kickstarter. Kickstarter says more than $350 million has been raised on its site so far.