Crowdfunding Kickstarts Ideas for a New Breed of Entrepreneurs

Crowdfunding emerged a few years ago in the arts community, appealing to independent filmmakers and garage bands with a song to record, before catching fire in the mainstream. Today, more than 400 crowdfunding websites serve every conceivable industry and niche.

One of the most popular of the reward-based crowdfunders is Kickstarter. Founded by a trio of friends in New York City, the 3-year-old company claims it launched nearly 28,000 projects in 2011. Its website is a bazaar of half-baked films, books, fashion accessories, nifty gadgets and high-tech marvels. Kickstarter offers creators the chance to share their idea with a curious, sometimes generous online audience in exchange for a 5 percent cut of the donations. That formula has led to some spectacular successes.

Kickstarter pays off only if the funding goal is reached.

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