Think of a time you had a great idea but you just didn’t act on it. Perhaps you’ve wanted to change careers for a while, but you just haven’t pulled the trigger. Or maybe you’d like to give triathlon a shot, but your bike is still collecting dust in your garage.
What happened? What’s the difference between ideas and reality?
Fear of being laughed at. Fear of difficulty. Fear of not doing it right. Fear of the unknown. Fear of standing out. Fear of failure.
Imagine if you were to put your idea — say, a vegan-friendly running shoe company, or a way to get fresh produce into urban “food deserts” — into a national spotlight and asked for help to make it happen. You would have no clue if people would jump at the opportunity to help your dreams come to reality, or if you’d just hear crickets.
It’s a scary prospect, right?
There’s a whole website for people who have done just that — taken their big ideas and put them out for the world to see, hoping they’ll become a reality. And they’d like your help.
What is Kickstarter?
If you haven’t heard of this site yet, think Groupon, but with a heart. In today’s economy, it’s hard to turn great ideas into reality. It takes resources — lots of them. That’s where Kickstarter comes in.
The site is a central location for people to pitch their ideas — large and small — and garner financial support to bring the idea to life. By setting out to raise “X” amount of dollars by a certain date, they can recruit help in getting an idea off the ground. Through crowdsourcing, individuals with shared passion for the idea can pledge to contribute as much or as little as they’d like to help make the idea come to life. Typically, pledges come with rewards — say, a 30 dollar donation toward a cookbook publishing project will get you a free copy of the book when it comes out; for 50 dollars the author will send you a dozen homemade cookies as well.
If the combined pledges meet or exceed the fundraising goal before the deadline, the credit cards are charged and the rewards are delivered. If the fundraising goal falls short, even by one dollar, no one’s credit cards are charged and the project disappears.
3 Kickstarter projects worth checking out
The cool thing about Kickstarter is that there’s something for everyone. You can search the site using keywords that describe your passion (like “running” or “vegetarian”), or browse to find projects that are looking to set up shop in your hometown. Here are three projects that get the NMA Stamp of Approval:
1. Bia Sport
What it is: If you’re sick of your bulky Garmin, or if you’d rather have a GPS fitness device that isn’t so damn complex, you want the Bia Sport. A group of women developed a sleek, stylish, streamlined device that provides detailed workout data without all the unnecessary bulk. It has neat features that aren’t found on most store-bought GPS devices, including real-time tracking on race days and emergency notification if something happens to you while you’re training alone or racing.
Why it’s worth supporting: With so few companies making quality GPS fitness devices, I think it’s fair to say that most of us would welcome another option on the shelves. Also, with women making up 45 percent of avid athletes and 60 percent of all who run full or half marathons, it’s about damn time there was an option that was created by women, for women. I’d even go so far to guess a most guys wouldn’t mind wearing this product, too.
Rewards: A 20 dollar pledge gets you a free wristband if you order a Bia sports watch after it comes out. If you pledge 99 dollars or more, you’ll get the watch itself when it comes out – that’s approximately 150 dollars cheaper than most GPS devices! Check out more information about the watch and the different reward levels here.
Deadline: July 13.
What it is: For the past year, I’ve been hearing about Veggie-Go’s from friends in Boulder, Colorado. Apparently, they’re pretty damn delicious, and a perfect, natural pick-me-up during long days on the bike or while hiking with friends. Made with organic fruits and vegetables, Veggie-Gos are like the Fruit Roll-Ups of our childhood, but with ingredients you can actually pronounce. Kickstarter funding would help them get out of the kitchen they share with a local pie shop and into their own space – which, in turn, may mean you’ll see Veggie-Go’s at your local Whole Foods one day.
Why it’s worth supporting: Vegan, gluten-free, portable, and tasty? What’s not to love? The concept of Veggie-Go’s came about when one of the owners, a personal trainer, realized there were very few products she’d actually suggest to her clients. Though there are other fruit leather-type products that we can get at Whole Foods, the passion behind this product and the enthusiasm the owners have for fitness and nutrition is admirable.
Rewards: Pledge 5 dollars and you’ll get a pack of Veggie-Go’s. Pledge 25 dollars or more, and you get a pack of each of their flavors, plus samples of their three new flavors so you can vote on which one they should permanently add to their lineup. Talk about putting your money where your mouth is. Check out their Kickstarter page here.
Deadline: July 12.
What it is: Quirky, artistic, and full of helpful information, Chickpea magazine is a quarterly publication that’s as pretty as it is informative. Don’t believe me? Check out their Summer 2012 issue, which they’ve put up online for free. There’s quite a few drool-worthy vegan recipes, interviews with cookbook authors like Isa Chandra Moskowitz, and photographs that make a plant-based diet look downright hip. By raising funds through Kickstarter, Chickpea hopes to increase its visibility, bringing its cool-vegan vibe to the masses with savings on subscriptions, digital apps, and more quality content.
Why it’s worth supporting: I speak for those of us at No Meat Athlete when I say we’re not exactly the folks who are going to make veganism sexy: we’re too awkward and we sweat a lot. But Chickpea is like the Anne Hathaway of vegan publications – sophisticated, yet approachable…and damn good-looking.
Rewards: A 12-dollar donation gets you a year’s subscription in PDF, and for 22 dollars they’ll send you a print copy as well. Also, at varying levels above 10 dollars, you get neat recipe cards or lovely hand-drawn posters for your kitchen. Once you see pictures of the rewards on their Kickstarter page, you’ll want to get a few of their items to decorate your kitchen.
Deadline: July 11.
Invest (I double-dog dare you!)
When Matt started No Meat Athlete, he did something that no one had really done before — create a fun, no-pressure community filled with people passionate about running on plants. Good things happen when good people invest in an idea, whether with their time, their money, or their enthusiasm. I’ve seen what the NMA community is capable of — when mentoring a new runner who is scared to do her first half marathon, on our Facebook page when prospective vegetarians or vegans ask questions about the transition to a plant-based diet, and when people approach a runner wearing a No Meat Athlete shirt after a race. This community is a great, supportive one, and I’m proud to be a part of it.
It’s because of that experience I’m confident that you’d be passionate about helping these NMA-friendly Kickstarter projects get off the ground, too.
After all — we all know a thing or two about taking good ideas and making them reality.