Founder of Kickstarter visits UT

Elizabeth Huang

The founder of Kickstarter, Perry Chen, visited UT yesterday to talk about how he started the company that has helped many people achieve their goals. 

Kickstarter is a website that allows individuals to donate to the creative projects of artists, filmmakers, musicians, designers and developers. Over 10 million people have backed a project on Kickstarter, according to their website. The event was hosted by Campus Events and Entertainment Distinguished Speakers and Student Endowed Centennial Lectureship (SECL).

Steve Goin, marketing junior and member of SECL, said the committee spent many weeks discussing who students would want to hear from and sent out several offers to various speakers.

“We were overjoyed when Perry accepted, because as a committee, we thought he offered a great depth of knowledge in a fascinating topic for UT students, seeing as how the University and city are both hubs for startup culture,” Goin said. 

Government freshman Sydney Tepper said she attended the event because she doesn’t know much about Kickstarter.

“I’m excited to learn a lot about it, especially hearing it from the CEO and founder is definitely going to be interesting,” Tepper said. 

Chen started the night off by talking about how the Kickstarter model is different from other business models, such as a commerce or investment model.

“Other models’ goal is to maximize profit,” Chen said. “With Kickstarter, it’s not based on how much profit will I make; it’s based off of how much I like what they’re creating.”

Chen also talked about the long journey to the development of Kickstarter. He first had the idea in 2001 after he had trouble raising money to put on a concert but didn’t have the technical skills and motivation to launch the website. In 2005, he moved to New York and met cofounders Yancey Strickler and Charles Adler, and in 2009, Kickstarter finally launched.

Chen said Kickstarter works because the people who back projects contribute because they care.

“They’re not giving something trivial like a ‘like,’” Chen said. “They’re taking out their wallets and giving. Kickstarter really illustrates the power of being able to ask other people for support.”

In addition to urging students not to sacrifice values for profit, Chen also encouraged student entrepreneurs to not worry about being safe.

“I want to be a proponent of the crooked path,” Chen said. “Follow your instincts and your values. Taking risks for your ideas and passions is critical to get to where you need to go.”