Kickstarter CEO Explains Why the Platform Changed: Exclusive


Kickstarter is expanding its strategy and making big changes after helping entrepreneurs raise more than $8 billion in the 15 years it’s been in business.

The crowdfunding site, which allows entrepreneurs to fund projects big and small in exchange for early access to rewards, announced last week that it would be introducing Late Pledges, a feature that allows creators to get funding — even after a campaign officially ends.

Related: Kickstarter Is Opening Up Its Platform to Creators and Making Big Changes to Its Model

“Creators for so long left so much money on the table,” Kickstarter CEO Everette Taylor tells Entrepreneur. “They might go viral at the end of the campaign, or backers discover a cool project and want to support, but the funding period has passed.”

Late Pledges mean that creators can get extra revenue and maximize their reach.

The introduction of Late Pledges is probably the largest change to Kickstarter fundamentally since it started.

“You’re going to see a lot more people raise 30, 40, 50% of their goal or even double their raise,” Taylor said.

Kickstarter CEO Everette Taylor. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images)

Kickstarter also introduced an in-house performance marketing team to help creators extend their reach and a new mobile app experience. The platform takes a 5% cut of successfully funded projects; the percentage hasn’t changed since 2009. Creators have to pay an additional 3-5% to process payments.

“One of the first things I wanted to do was just listen to our creators and let us let them guide us,” Taylor said. “So all of the things that you’re seeing right now are due to the feedback and the voices of our creators.”

Related: This Young Professional Left Her Job in Finance After Her Remote Side Hustle Took Off and Made $65,000

Here, Taylor explains the decision-making behind the changes, how he approaches leading Kickstarter, and his advice for future CEOs.

Entrepreneur: Why make these changes after 15 years? Was it all based on feedback?

Taylor: The introduction of Late Pledges is probably the largest change to Kickstarter fundamentally since it started. We’re trying to focus on the things that are going to be the most impactful immediately. We genuinely feel that what we’re rolling out right now is [at the top of] people’s lists. Pledge management and fulfillment tools for creators are No. 1.

These are all things that either exist with third-party platforms or things our creators have been asking for for a long time. So this was important for us because we knew it was going to be the most impactful for creators and backers in their experience.

How have you approached leading Kickstarter after stepping into the CEO role in 2022?

The biggest thing is that nothing is off the table. How can we innovate? How can we push ourselves? It’s a little bit uncomfortable to step out of your comfort zone, but honestly, I’ve been guided by our creators and our community. I can’t tell you enough how grateful I am about how passionate they are and how willing they are to give feedback and express themselves.

I get constant feedback from creators, and I’m guided by this sense of wanting to make as much impact as possible.

With so many crowdfunding competitors, how do you keep entrepreneurs coming back to Kickstarter?

I think the No. 1 thing is giving them the tools and resources they need to be successful. One of the most important things to retain anybody, any customer, is to have a listening ear and listen to what they’re saying and make sure that you’re invested in their success. I love hearing from creators who say, every project I come back, I raise more money. That’s beautiful, right? And, to help them see that Kickstarter is not a place that they launched once and that’s it.

We now have creators of all sizes who are continuing to launch products. We just had L’Oreal successfully launch a new product on Kickstarter.

The other side is continuing to invest and develop in this audience and community. We have an incredible outreach team dedicated to any space within entrepreneurship. If you’re trying to be an author, we have someone for publishing. If you’re trying film, we have someone for film. We also have a program called Forward Funds that invests directly in emerging entrepreneurs and people on the platform who are starting projects where we could help them with some of their funding as well.

What advice would you give emerging leaders or entrepreneurs?

Embrace the hard things. Being a leader is not an easy job. There’s never going to be a time and day where 100% of people like you or support you or believe in your vision. You have to continue to push through and do what’s best for your company, community, and customers.

It’s also important to be able to balance all of the things life throws at you while also balancing the demands and responsibilities of the business. If you’re not taking care of yourself and you’re not at your best, it’s going to impact your company. There are going to be great days, but there are also going to be rough days. So keep things in perspective and stay focused on the things that matter.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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