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Kickstarter (Photo credit: Laughing Squid)

Dan Shapley recently commented on my Kickstarter post to tell me about his current project. Last Alert is an iOS app he’s developing that helps locate your iPhone or iPod even if the battery is dead. The following guest post about using crowdfunding was written by Dan Shapley. Please thank him by checking out his project on Kickstarter.com.

Kickstarter, and crowdfunding in general is an awesome tool of the information age. It allows small time creative types like myself opportunities that we simply didn’t exist a few years ago. Alternative, traditional methods of acquiring money to start a business, publish a book, or invent the next pet rock are expensive, time-consuming, and difficult for the average Joe. Getting a bank loan these days is extremely hard, and there are so many hoops to jump through to get a grant from say, the National Endowment for the Arts, that most people wouldn’t even bother.

Crowdfunding changes all that.

Entrepreneurship is risky and not for the faint of heart. It usually means a big leap of faith, and can often mean gambling everything you have on your idea. Sure there are plenty of success stories, but there are many more of us that fail. And countless others too timid to even try. In this new world, literally ANYONE with the desire and the drive can bring their idea to fruition. (Of course you need a good idea to begin with.)

With a crowdfunding opportunity like Kickstarter, you are not going it alone.

You will know immediately if your idea has merit, and determine very early on whether or not your goal is worth pursuing –and you can do it before you tell your boss off, cash in your 401k, or take a huge bank loan. The general public lets you know immediately whether your idea is worth pursuing. If you don’t generate the interest (i.e., cash) to fund your project – well, that’s okay. You tried. From here, you can still try to go it alone, or you can go back to your day job, no harm done. Maybe a better idea will occur to you down the line.

All this is not to say that you don’t have to work hard. Just because your funding is coming from elsewhere doesn’t mean you can be lazy. In fact, having gone through the process myself, I’d argue the opposite. Unless you are lucky enough to be a “staff favorite” or make it to one of the other high-profile Kickstarter lists, it’s very easy to get lost among the thousands of other projects running at any given time.

It’s up to you to draw attention to your project. Make it interesting, and offer enticing rewards for pledges. Once you get backers, you need to keep them happy and interested. Regular project updates and timely responses to emails are a necessity. Some very successful projects have thousands of backers and hundreds of emails a day. Plan to take some vacation time from your regular job if you want to keep up.

Once your project is “successful” your work is really just beginning.

Take a deep breath because now you have to deliver. A successfully funded Kickstarter project is equivalent to the bank approving your loan. You’ve got your startup capital, but the backers want what you’ve promised them. It’s time for you to step up and prove that you can deliver. This is what you wanted! This is your opportunity!

Now get to work.

(Oh, and by the way, did I mention I’ve got a great Kickstarter project myself?)

Thanks Dan and Good Luck!