Ranking second just after film and before technology, food is the second most sought after category on Kickstarter. What makes culinary projects so popular on the world’s biggest crowdfunding platform? Which are the dos and don’ts for creators and how did the most successful campaigns of all times make it to the top? Here follow a series of facts and observations that might be useful to foodies who are curious to know more about the most interesting funding method of our times.
Described by the Times as one of the best inventions of 2010, Kickstarter has so far received over $1 billion in pledges from 5.7 million donors to fund over 135,000 projects. In a recent interview, co-founder Yancey Strickler told the LA Times that food projects have a higher success rate (56%), compared with all the other project categories combined (47%). The most funded Kickstarter project of all times is a portable party device that can, among other things, mix cocktails and play music. The Coolest Cooler raised more than 13 million dollars in 52 days this summer. This was the second attempt for its creator Ryan Greeper, who ran the first campaign for the cooler with no success in 2013.
Talking about raising funds through the platform, which are the elements that define success? As Kickstarter’s PR manager Justin Kazmark puts it, behind every successful project is a good story. Let’s take Angelo Garro’s Omnivore Salt which collected 472% over the initial $30,000 goal. Garro, a blacksmith by profession and a gourmand by vocation, enrolled Werner Herzog (who happens to be a fan of his salt blend) to create the video for his campaign and included the forwards of Alice Waters and Michael Pollan to his project description. The curious incident made it to the news worldwide from The Guardian to Indiewire and the blend is now available in more than 100 locations across the US. Creators who are good storytellers and offer interesting rewards are more likely to gain supporters. Crowdfunding is, after all, a community effort and this is why independent businesses looking for funds locally often make it thanks to the support of “sincere fans” or “neighbors” – people who are more likely to empathize with their dream.
The list with Kickstarter’s top 10 food projects, includes tech innovations such as a sous vide cooker that connects to your iphone and an automatic beer brewing appliance. Farm to table restaurants, food products and cookbooks are also high on the list. There’s the unexpected success of an artisanal, all-natural Marshmallow maker from Nashville who raised $100,000 for making treats from a rented commercial kitchen located a few blocks from her home. There’s the viral campaign of a guy who raised $55.000 simply for making and eating potato salad (his story ranks second under the google search for potato salad). As the makers put it, creating a successful campaign is by no means an easy endeavor: winning projects usually come with long months of preparation, heavy social networking and engagement with the audience.
People like the idea of ordering a product they like at a fraction of the price that it will retail, so defining the rewards with care is also very important. This September was the launching month of Barnraiser, a new crowdfunding community created with the mission of putting a billion dollars into the hands of food innovators as they reshape a healthy food world. Even if the Barnraiser is currently available just to US projects, it signals a step in the popularization of indepentent foodmaking and the crowds seem to like that.
The story will be continued online!