Patronopowhat | Not Kickstarter

Kickstarter rocks. I will likely use it for a project someday. I think it’s an amazing tool.

The Patronopolis is not Kickstarter. It’s a different model, trying to fill a related but different need.

The difference between the two models can be summed up this way:

  • The Patronopolis is about funding the process.
  • Kickstarter is about funding a project.

Projects and processes are not mutually exclusive — projects nest inside the larger process. Projects are to the process as plants are to the garden.

Here’s a picture of what I mean:

Everything inside the big squiggly line is the process.

The things inside the smaller circles are projects (some defined, some overlapping, some just beginning to take shape).

Kickstarter very explicitly funds projects only. This is the number one rule in their “Kickstarter Basics:"

Funding for projects only. A project has a clear goal, like making an album, a book, or a work of art. A project will eventually be completed, and something will be produced by it. A project is not open-ended. Starting a business, for example, does not qualify as a project.

That’s great. Completion is satisfying to both creators and donors. Everyone likes things with endings.

The problem is that projects usually don’t arrive fully formed. Maybe every once in a while, an idea is sparked and it’s almost immediately possible to define the budget, the timeline, the collaborators, the end goal. But usually, all of those variables take a long time to emerge. And the more ambitious and complex the project, the longer that process takes.

By saying they only fund projects, what Kickstarter is really saying is they only fund the end of the creative process — the part where you know what you’re making, and what it’s going to look like, and when it’s going to be done. And that’s fine. That’s totally legit. The only problem is that the artist looking to engage in ambitious, complex, long-term projects needs support long before the true shape and size of the thing their making becomes clear.

Corporations and the military understand this. That’s why they have research and development departments. In some cases that means paying whole buildings full of people to ask and wonder, experiment and fail, modify and merge ideas. They make big investments in the design process — the creative process of their product development teams — and only later define exactly what will be made, and by whom, and how much it will cost, and when it will be completed.

If they had to know all this on day one, it would be impossible to innovate. They would never make anything, or they would only repeat what had been done before. Developing an honest, accurate definition of a project takes time. Innovation takes time. It’s a process.

That’s what the Patronopolis is here for — to fund that process for individual artists. To nourish the soil in which innovative artistic projects can grow. I created this model not to compete with Kickstarter (which would be a pointless losing battle), but to try to meet a need that even Kickstarter, as cool and flexible as it is, does not address.

Kickstarter is designed to fund projects.

The Patronopolis is designed to fund the process.