There are two true signs of success on the Web: parody accounts and meta humor.
Since its founding in April 2009, Kickstarter has made it possible for people to get their creative projects funded by strangers on the Internet. According to its in-house statistics, 73,216 different projects have launched on the site—everything from a role-playing game based on a popular webcomic to a stop-motion movie by Dan Harmon and Charlie Kaufman.
Given its runaway success as a crowdfunding platform, Kickstarter has seen its fair share of novelty tributes, some of which even started inside the company’s New York headquarters.
Below is a list of 8 such meta projects. Some were successfully funded. Others not so much.
1) “I Would Like to Buy Kickstarter”
Comedian Eric Moneypenny is responsible for the first—and most absurd—Kickstarter campaign ever. In March 2012, Moneypenny tried to use the crowdfunding platform to raise $19 million to purchase Kickstarter, most likely as a publicity stunt to get his and the name of his sketch comedy group, the Midnight Show, out there.
The company rejected Moneypenny’s attempt to raise the funds to buy them out, citing that its guidelines prohibit “fund my life projects.” The Los Angeles-based comedian appealed the decision but lost.
“They told me my dream is dead, which means we can’t even kickstart its heart,” Moneypenny wrote in a post-mortem piece for Vice.
2) “Crowdfunding Dreams”
In June 2012, businesswoman and writer Mary Moynihan set out to to write Crowdfunding Dreams, a book that would have been a behind-the-scenes look at 17 different individuals and their successfully funded projects in an attempt to inspire those that wanted to accomplish the same thing.
Unfortunately for Moynihan, she wasn’t able to inspire people to back her own crowdfunding dream, raising a paltry $7 out of her $3,700 goal.
“Do you want to change your life?” Moynihan asked at the end of her project page. The collective answer was a resounding “no.”
Like the previous entry, Glenn Fleishman wanted to write a book about crowdfunding that served as a guide to those interested in launching a successful Kickstarter campaign. Crowdfunding: a Guide to What Works and Why would have given its readers advice on “planning a project, carrying it through its funding phase, and fulfilling goals” based on real-life past examples.
Fleishman, a freelance technology writer, actually has the requisite experience and knowledge to write on the topic, having done so on several occasions for The Economist. Unfortunately, his credentials weren’t enough. Fleishman realized that he wasn’t going to reach his target goal of $35,000, so he killed the project before it could fail.
For his part, Fleishman is taking his failed campaign as a learning experience, detailing on his blog what he will be doing differently when he tries again.
Kickstarter cofounder Yancey Strickler’s lone campaign on the platform was a cool one: make a shirt with the project’s final statistics printed on it.
The campaign, which got its name from a shirt made about the influential indie band Fugazi (the band didn’t sell merchandise at their shows and therefore weren’t responsible for the creation of its own merch), launched on May 31, 2011 and only had two pledge levels: $15 for supporters who wanted the shirt and lived inside of the United States, and $20 for everyone else.
“This is not a Kickstarter shirt” was backed by 532 backers (including 113 international supporters) and raised $8,554 in the process.
5) “You Kickstarted Me”
Photographer JJ Casas took to the website in January 2012 to raise at least $9,500 so that he could take the portrait of what he calls the “creators—the entrepreneurs, inventors, and go-getters—who used Kickstarter to make their ideas a reality.” Amongst the people Casas wanted to profile were Dave Jackson of Coffee Joulies, Alex Andon of Desktop Jellyfish Tank, Danny Fukuba and Brad Leong of The Ooona, among others.
Casas offered a photobook, a featurette with interviews with his subjects, and even a workshop on portraiture as perks to motivate backers into supporting his project.
Did it work? No. The photographer only raised $1,705.
In July 2012, standup comedian Myq Kaplan determined that he wanted to send Kickstarter a letter asking them to answer the age-old question: “What is art?”
“I saw that there were a lot of rules that governed what kind of projects actually COULD be funded under their guidelines,” he told the Daily Dot via email in August, “and that’s what led to the specific project that you now see before you.”
To accomplish his goal, Kaplan asked the Internet to help him raise at least $1 to cover the cost of envelope and postage.
The very meta art project was a quite successful, raising $400 from 162 backers. On Sept. 28, the Brooklyn-based comedian updated his page letting his supporters know that the letter had indeed been sent. He also included a video link that explained what he was doing with the surplus of funds collected:
On Jan. 6, 2012, comedy group Rigor Tortoise and Ethan Newberry uploaded a video to YouTube called “The Kickstarter Song.” The clip, which has been viewed a modest 7,254 times since launching, is a mostly completed ode in music video form to the crowdfunding platform.
The same day “The Kickstarter Song” made its way online, a project page was set up by the comedy troupe and Newberry to fund the final shot of the music video. Their goal was to raise $25,000 in a month so that they could finish their ending and fill it with “ridiculous novelty and of course, CGI penguins.”
That didn’t happen. Only 12 people thought that giving financial support to this endeavor was a good idea, contributing a measly $588.
Last and almost certainly least on the list is Kickstarter The Movie, a film about “a team of filmmakers seeking to make a documentary using Kickstarter to contribute not only [the] funds but the content itself.”
Created by software developer and entrepreneur John Goodall, the project tried to raise $65,000 to make a film about a topic that was to be voted on by the backers. It’s kind of like The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, a 2011 documentary by Morgan Spurlock on product placement funded entirely by product placement The only difference is that Spurlock’s film secured $1.8 million in funding while Goodall only got $265 in pledges.
Interestingly enough, Kickstarter The Movie didn’t have a pitch video on it’s page, something just about every other project includes.
Photo via Yancey Strickler/Kickstarter