Few companies have been as disruptive in the last few years as Kickstarter. Founded just 4 years ago, the company is the biggest crowdfunding platform in the world and has pledged a whopping $1.4 billion across 74,000 projects.
Many of the companies supported by Kickstarter have gone on to achieve worldwide success. Last week, UK company Lunar Missions even launched a Kickstarter project to allow us to send a piece of our belongings to be buried on the moon!
Kickstarter allows everyone of us to bring our own ideas to life and levels the field with VC firms. Although the crowd funding industry has its cynics, it is going nowhere and is growing faster than ever before. And not of all it's motives are financial - the company admits itself that not many of the projects are "great" investments. Often, the real question is do I want to help this idea come to life?
Like every business, driving Kickstarter's success are great people.
And although the company is still only 96 people big (but growing fast), there is a common theme through their hiring process.
Just like they give the underdog a chance in business, they believe in giving the underdog a chance in their company.
The company has an incredibly close culture - their website even mentions every person working at the company as well as all ex-workers. A brief look at their workforce shows that it's one big melting-pot of backgrounds. Not your customary majority of ex-Googler's, Stanford MBA's or classically trained marketers.
Everyone has a chance.
Underdogs from the startThis great article from Fast Company gives a great account of the story of Kickstarter's three co-founders: Perry Chen, Yancey Strickler and Charles Adler.
Chen, grew up in Roosevelt Island in NY and although he was smart and did well at school, was never really motivated and often bunked class to go watch the Yankees play. After graduating, he applied for several graduate level jobs but never even got one interview.
Isolated, he tried pretty much everything including day trading and trying to launch an electro-music career until he eventually had to work hard as a coffee barista and preschool helper to make ends meet. As he quotes himself, eventually all he wanted to "focus on was dropping oui of society".
Now a legendary story within Kickstarter, Chen first came across the idea of Kickstarter when he wrote to Austrian DJ duo Kruder & Dorfmeister to see if they would come to NY to perform a gig. They agreed but wanted $15,000 and five plane tickets - not much, but something he was unable to provide. It seemed a shame - they DJ's would have a great gig, the fans would have a great time and possibly they could make the money back once tickets were sold. What if there was a way for people to raise money for the gig in advance?
He started working on the project as a side-line although progress was limited. One day, whilst working in a new job as a waiter, he met Yancey Strickler.
Strickler had grew up on a farm - an introvert who had come to NY to launch a career as a music writer. Inspired by Chen and his idea, he starting working nights and weekend on building "the idea" and to map out the site. He's admitted himself in other interviews that during this time they discussed plenty of "really bad ideas".
During this time Chen and Strickler also found the final missing piece in their puzzle who was Charles Adler. Adler was a freelance designer and upon meeting them recalled that "The vision was so compelling. It captured so much of what I had wished I had been working on all along."
Two years later in 2009, Kickstarter was finally launched. Not exactly a thoroughly planned or thought out hiring process. No business plan or strategy statement. Very little credentials in building an internet business.
But nevertheless, the three underdogs had done it. They had managed to build a platform that gave other underdogs a chance.
And like truly passionate people, this belief runs through their veins today.
In fact a current opening for a PA to their CEO doesn't even ask for a resume. They'd just like you to send them a tale of when you provided incredible support in a challenging situation.
ConclusionAll successful companies have a purpose. A truly genuine purpose runs through everything a company does - internally and externally.
Kickstarter believes in fairness - letting anyone have the opportunity to create and market their ideas. This fairness continues into their hiring strategy.
Hiring managers can all learn from this by giving chances to those who may not be most qualified but who have more potential.
Next time you're hiring, will you give the underdog a chance?
Originally Posted on Linked In By: Jas Singh
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