Kickstarter is expanding to Hong Kong this month – part of its first foray into Asia – giving start-ups in the city access to one of the world’s largest product crowdfunding platforms.
On Kickstarter’s new Hong Kong site is a message: “Coming soon: Kickstarter for creators in Hong Kong! Big news, Hong Kong. You’ll soon be able to launch projects on Kickstarter. Stay tuned for more details.”
The platform says its Hong Kong website will be up and running by the end of August, but has not set a launch date yet. It will launch in Singapore at the same time.
Kickstarter is currently available in the United States, Britain, Australia, and 15 European countries. Creators from other places have to jump though complicated hoops to launch an appeal for funds. They need a physical address, bank account, and credit card in one of the existing markets and are subject to tax regulations in the host country.
Asia has been a huge supporter of Kickstarter projects. In 2015, US$34 billion was raised worldwide through crowdfunding efforts, with over US$10 billion coming from Asia.
Hong Kong is one of the world’s top backers of Kickstarter projects.
In 2015, cinematographer and filmmaker Christopher Doyle, best known for working with Wong Kar-wai on classic films such as In the Mood for Love, turned to Kickstarter for US$100,000 to fund his triptych of short films, Hong Kong Trilogy.
He said he launched a Kickstarter campaign because “there isn’t much money in the film world” for experimental projects like this (1,021 backers pledged US$124,126 to help bring his project to life).
In 2012, indie-folk outfit Noughts and Exes became the first band from Hong Kong to successfully complete a Kickstarter campaign. They reached their US$10,000 target to help with the release of an album.
Last year Ambi Climate, a device that allows people to sync their air conditioner with their smartphone, was a highly successful Hong Kong release, with 749 backers pledging US$114,892.
Not all appeals are successful. Last year Hong Kong start-up Nbition Development, hailed by the government as a shining example of innovation, raised almost US$1 million on Kickstarter for its smart coffee machine but became embroiled in controversy amid repeated product delays and an accusation of copyright infringement.
The arrival of Kickstarter will provide competition for home-grown crowdsourcing platforms including FringeBacker and Music Bee.
In June Hong Kong’s first crowd-funding concept store, Backers, opened at the K11 shopping mall, in Tsim Sha Tsui. The store offers such products as Solar Paper, a portable solar charger, and Mighty Mug, a smart cup that won’t fall over if tipped – a boon for desktop coffee drinkers. The aim is to make crowd-funded items from online platforms such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, zeczec, flyingV and Makuake accessible to anyone who desires the latest gadgetry but doesn’t want to “buy without seeing the real thing”.