Hear from Charles Adler, Founding partner of Kickstarter
Charles Adler is a founding partner of Kickstarter and the driving force behind Lost Arts, a start-up that’s equal parts community and creativity. As one of five seminal speakers at Spark's Future of the Future event in August, Charles spoke on everything from belief to optimism to technology. We sat down with him to learn more.
Doing the impossible
What does the cofounder of Kickstarter have to say about underdogs, impossible journeys and gatekeeping?
“I think there are other moments of surprise and delight, where a project that starts off very innocently, and I think every project quite frankly on Kickstarter is some form of underdog. They are just trying to exist. [...] So there are a few projects where the odds were against them. One in particular was this project, Pebble, which was a team of technologists and entrepreneurs in California that wanted to bring a connected e-ink watch to market. They got "no" from all the venture capitalists and financiers in the market. They didn't believe in them. So they went to Kickstarter to basically fund publicly.
"I think the surprising thing with that project was that they just wanted to get a prototype out. [...] What's fascinating is the crowd, the community at large, the internet at large, society at large voted with their dollars and said, "yes, we actually want this thing and we trust you can make it right." Suddenly the gatekeepers were removed [...] There's an emotional connection and they went on to raise $10 million for that campaign. A hundred times what they intended before they went on to run a second campaign for the second version of a Pebble, which raised over $20 million and they raised a third campaign for some accessories, which was $13 million. Clearly these folks are blessed, but these were examples of what I would argue is sort of a David and Goliath story. The impossible journey that becomes a reality. It's those things that I think are just fascinating and ever-present on the platform.”
The future of work
We asked Charles about his latest project, Lost Arts. Lost Arts is about harnessing the collective power of creatives. He started with a successful prototype in a physical space and now he's taking the idea into the digital realm. We asked him about the potential of this distributed model and the future of work.
“ …I think there are three main opportunities around the future of work. One is personally, right? You get to spend more time with your family, presumably if you can work from home or your hours are more open ended because of laptops being mobile.
"I think the other is just the cost to start a business is becoming cheaper and cheaper as time moves on. If you remove the need or frankly, maybe even more so, the desire to have an office so everybody is distributed, that removes actually a massive amount of tension economically to starting a business.
"I'd also say from a talent perspective, there is an assumption, at least when you talk about software and the digital entrepreneurial world, that all of the intelligence and all of the skill lies in Silicon Valley and that is completely false because those people were not all born and raised and taught there. [...] [I]f I grew up in India and I love the country that I live in, I want to grow up in India and change the economics and culture in India by virtue of what I do, I can live in India but work for a company in New Zealand, UK, Berlin or the United States. I can live where I want to live and those companies can access the talent that doesn't want to move, but they can access talent that is based on expertise and skill.”
History proves positives
As business moves forward and with digital models disrupting many aspects of daily life, does Charles have any warnings for us?
“I think being more mindful of the scale at which we're releasing products now is just very different. At no point in time, historically, have we ever seen anything like a Facebook or a Twitter and, no point in time, have we ever been so universally connected. I think with that comes a new era of responsibility because we have that access now. So I think that's maybe the interesting tension for the future within technology."[...]The reality is every new technology creates some positive and some negative. I think the general history proves out that the positive generally wins and the positives generally outweigh the negatives.” The idea that history proves positives will always outweigh the negatives is a common theme from all our Future of the Future speakers.