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Why it’s important to find space in your time - Charles Adler, Founder of Kickstarter

Charles Adler, Co-founder of and former Head of Design Water, is a web-designer. Here he gives us a very personal account of how Kickstarter began and at the same time urges us all to “Find our space in time”.

Charles initially thought he’d be an architect, then an engineer. However, his whole life changed when he discovered the internet. It fascinated him. He dropped out of school and became a designer. He was based in a small studio and addicted to work. However, he soon discovered that, although he loved what he was doing, he missed being involved in the arts.

To solve this he set up a couple of projects of his own. One of these was a web broadcasting service, which was unusual in 1996, on which he streamed audio. A couple of guys who played ended up getting a gig abroad which Charles found interesting. Firstly it showed there were actually people listening and secondly these two couldn’t get a gig in Chicago where they were based but obviously there was an audience out there for them somewhere.

Meanwhile, a guy called Perry in 2001 decided he wanted to organise a rave. This wasn’t to make loads of money but because he saw it as an arts project. After looking into he ended up freaking out about the idea of an empty venue and a massive bill to pay. This started him thinking whether there was any way to measure the level of interest for something before it was actually out there. In effect, get people to prepay for the party and only when you reach the required amount would you actually organise it.

Perry then met a second person about five years later. He was a writer and rock critic so surrounded by independent musicians. They discovered a mutual love of the arts and discussed further the idea of prepaying for concerts and gigs.

Then finally in 2007 Perry and Charles met, 6 years after Perry’s original idea and about 10 years after some of Charles’ own projects had started. They were introduced regarding another project but Perry pitched his Kickstarter idea to him. Charles got it straight away. They connected over the desire to see more art available for more people.

So what is Kickstarter? Charles says it is most easily explained through its projects. An industrial Designer called Scott wanted to design a wristband to turn an old version of an iPod Nano into a watch. He got rejected across the board. Scott then launched the idea on Kickstarter and raised a massive amount of money to launch the product. But that wasn’t where it ended. Apple then wanted the product so much they not only reversed their original no but also negotiated a favourable rate with Scott. This just shows the power of the individual who has the support of the public.

There is a quote from Mark Twain which says, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why”. Charles says you can only really find out who you are by playing outside the boundaries so urges us all to go out and try interesting things/



Charles Adler was a key speaker at Wavelength Connect event On Your Marks 2014. To view more videos from this event go to On Your Marks 2014.



Kickstarter is a new way to fund creative projects. They’re a home for everything from films, games, and music to art, design, and technology. Kickstarter is full of projects, big and small, that are brought to life through the direct support of people like us. Since their launch in 2009, 6.2 million people have pledged $1 billion, funding 62,000 creative projects. Thousands of creative projects are raising funds on Kickstarter right now.

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