Crowd-funding site Kickstarter comes to Singapore

Creators no longer need foreign bank account and address; they can launch projects here and raise money in Singapore dollars

Kickstarter CEO Yancey Strickler says the site launched here partly because of the vibrant culture and wealth of creativity.
Kickstarter CEO Yancey Strickler says the site launched here partly because of the vibrant culture and wealth of creativity.

It just got easier for people here to create that dream invention or raise money to make an indie film.

Kickstarter, the world's largest crowd-funding platform for creative projects, yesterday launched in Singapore and Hong Kong - its first foray into Asia.

The news was welcomed by creators here, who previously had to go through an overseas representative to launch projects on the site.

This also meant the need for a physical address and bank account in one of the 18 regions with Kickstarter, including the United States, Britain, Canada, Belgium, Switzerland and Luxembourg.

Projects were subject to tax regulations of the host country and funds were raised in that country's currency.

  • Strong support here

  • $41m

    People from Singapore have spent nearly this amount backing Kickstarter projects, out of US$2.5 billion (S$3.4 billion) worldwide.


    The number of Kickstarter backers from Singapore.

Now, this will no longer be the case: Creators can launch projects directly in Singapore, will be subject to local tax regulations and can raise money in Singapore dollars.

Kickstarter users input a funding goal and deadline for each project for which backers pledge money. If a funding goal is reached, backers are charged and Kickstarter collects a 5 per cent fee from the total amount raised.

Speaking to The Straits Times over Skype from Kickstarter's office in Brooklyn, New York, the American company's co-founder and CEO, Mr Yancey Strickler, said Singapore and Hong Kong were chosen partly because they had large and supportive communities of backers.

People from Singapore have spent nearly US$30 million (S$41 million) backing Kickstarter projects, out of US$2.5 billion worldwide, and form among the largest proportion of backers in the world.

Close to 110 projects on the site originate in Singapore, as do 60,000 backers. The site has 11 million backers in total, driving 315,000 projects.

Mr Strickler, a 37-year-old American, said another lure was Singa- pore's vibrant culture and wealth of creativity, in terms of the variety of projects here involving film, music, technology and the arts.

With the launch, more projects from Singapore can be expected on the platform, giving backers more choice as to what to back, he added.

So far, home-grown projects that have been funded through Kickstarter include short film Departures, about a father and his terminally ill daughter, which raised US$19,000 in 2014; as well as a new home decor magazine which raised €25,540 ($38,800) in June this year.

Those looking for Kickstarter to open an office here, however, may be disappointed - there are no such plans.

Its team of 113 full-time staff are based in Brooklyn.

Nonetheless, project creators here welcome the launch.

Student Brian Ong, a permanent resident here, launched his first crowd-funding project yesterday, involving an automated indoor plant watering system, named Hydra, that pumps water from a bucket to up to 10 potted plants. This allows users to maintain an indoor garden with less effort.

Says the 25-year-old, who is doing his master's in architecture: "In the past, I would have to find a way to set up an address and bank account overseas in order to launch my project, which would have been tedious. The launch makes starting a Kickstarter project here more convenient and fuss-free."

When asked about projects that failed to deliver, such as local start-up Pirate3D which raised US$1.44 million through the site in 2013 for its 3D printer only to leave 60 per cent of its backers in the lurch two years later, Mr Strickler said: "Every project is the responsibility of its creator."

About one in 10 funded Kickstarter projects fails to fulfil on its promises, he added.

"We would love for this to never happen, but we also understand that sometimes things can go wrong. We are very open about this and try to make sure backers are aware too."

His advice? If it is a project by someone you do not know personally, read the comments from other backers and look at the creator's previous projects.

"There is a lot of information there to make a good decision."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 01, 2016, with the headline Crowd-funding site Kickstarter comes to Singapore. Subscribe