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[Herald Design Forum 2016] Kickstarter CEO Yancey Strickler wants to put culture above profits

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Published : 2016-11-08 14:28
Updated : 2016-11-08 15:41

Entrepreneurs and startup owners today are living in a world of investment portfolios: Profit-making is a must and selling a company at maximum profit is to be celebrated.

Yancey Strickler, the founder and CEO of the world’s largest crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, argues there is a better and more sustainable way.

Speaking at the Herald Design Forum 2016 on Tuesday at the Grand Hyatt Seoul in Seoul, Strickler said “When we all just try to optimize for money, we are bound to erase culture and innovative thinking. And that is a money monoculture which we all should be cautious about.”

Yancey Strickler, co-founder of Kickstarter, speaks at the Herald Design Forum 2016 held at the Grand Hyatt Seoul in Seoul, Tuesday. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)

The founder of the world’s biggest fundraising platform emphasized that his mission is “to help bring creative projects to life.”

“We measure our success as a company by how well we achieve that mission, not by the size of our profits,” Strickler said.

The mission gives a pretty straightforward message: You “champion and celebrate the creation of art and culture” and should be “opposed to the idea of the monoculture.”

With that clear mission, Kickstarter, which was founded in 2009 and based in Brooklyn, New York, attracts entrepreneurs with innovative ideas and helps them reach out directly to the public for funding.

It has backed 8,800 new companies and nonprofit organizations and over 100,000 projects. The startups and projects, in turn, have created 300,000 new part-time and full-time jobs. Overall, Kickstarter has generated an economic impact of over $5.3 billion, according to the company.

“Creators from diverse backgrounds should have a greater opportunity to take risks on new ideas,” Strickler said. “And they should find backing for their ideas.”

For the founder of Kickstarter, being idealistic is the key to pushing the boundaries and making a difference.

“It’s important to think about what has motivated you right from the beginning. Make sure that motivation remains a crucial part of your organization, regardless of how small your company currently is. If you stick to the fear of profits and are obsessed with the timing of when to sell your company, you play a part in lowering the industry standard.”

While this principle has helped his company facilitate crowdfunding from more than 10 million people around the world, he said a new model to champion more diverse cultures should prevail in order for new technologies and innovations to flourish.  

“We need to think outside the box and see things differently,” Strickler said. “Be generous. Choose to take this path that nobody has sought before, even if that would mean less money-making. Support those people who opt to find independent ways. That will change the world as we know it.”

By Bak Se-hwan (sh@heraldcorp.com)