The company offers start-ups a route to raise funding for specific projects from the general public in return for 'investor' benefits. A target amount to raise is set and if that amount is not reached, nothing is funded. Unlike UK crowdfunding venture Crowdcube, the benefits do not currently include shares.
The latest hit project on Kickstarter is Ouya, a low cost games console that comes with its own software development kit (SDK) so that it can be deliberately hacked (or programmed, as we used to say!). The $100 Android-based console is to the Raspberry Pi what the old ZX80 DIY computer kit was to the BBC B Microcomputer.
Over 100 UK companies have already used Kickstarter in the US. Xenonauts, a game by Goldhawk Interactive in London, last month raised $155,000 from nearly 5,000 small investors. However, in order to set up a Kickstarter account, you have to use Amazon Payments and in order to use Amazon Payments you have be an American citizen, and that has caused problems for international companies.