Among the most successful Kickstarter campaigns last year was a $50,000 effort to erect a giant Robocop statue in Detroit. No, I'm not kidding. It’s hard to know what to conclude from the fact that random people are willing to pool their money to pay homage to a fictitious, Cyborgian law enforcement officer in an dystopian metropolis verging on mob rule. The Robocop hype does highlight the capricious nature of the Kickstarter community, a group just as likely to blanket a Polish neighborhood in Pittsburg with ironic, handwritten letters as it is to create a yearbook for a primary school in Tanzania. If Kickstarter is online democracy in action, it’s majority rule in its crudest form.
So it will be interesting to watch how the crowdfunding community reacts as two Houstonians try to launch their businesses with a little help from the internet. After her initial crowdsourcing campaign to launch a cosmetics company called Lucky Cat Beauty, Layne, 32, was approached by “Jump Start City,” a crowdfunding community designed to be more social than Kickstarter. JSC users decide which ideas launch based on a system of voting. With enough votes, projects move through various stages of refinement and promotion.
The long-term goal is for JSC to be a place where community members can share ideas while critiquing each other’s projects with the possibility of potential involvment in the project itself. Backers can receive "rewards" for handing their cash, which can include free units of the product, invitations to events, free services, influence and even financial rewards. If a project fails to meet its funding goals everyone's money is refunded.
“It’s a more social form of crowdfunding,” says Layne, who has spent the last 14 years working as a makeup artist at fashion shows and shoots all over the globe. “I’m hoping it also leads to more people seeing my campaign.”
Her campaign is seeking $10,000, which would allow the Houston native to get her business selling glam eyelash extensions up and running. More specifically, she needs to purchase 12,000 pairs of eyelashes and 20,000 boxes.
“My lashes are natural-looking, effortless and vegan,” she says. “They have drama, but not that sort of over-the-top Drag Queen look.”
Also hoping to make a splash is Chestache, a company that produces portable chess boards that are made from cotton canvas. Ideal for camping or a game in the park, the pieces fit in a plastic tube that the board wraps around before it's secured with a buckle. Founders Laura Landry and Spencer Anastasio are Houstonians and lovers of chess (Laura also claims to love mustaches). They're campaign is seeking $4,000. Check out their website here.