Opinion

The Spike Lee Kickstarter controversy, from a creator’s perspective

Spike Lee’s movie Kickstarter campaign – and the controversy surrounding it – is not hurting other creators and innovators on Kickstarter. It’s helping like crazy.

Lee is a renowned, New York-based film creator who decided to use what many consider a more humble entrepreneurs’ and philanthropists’ breeding ground for launching his next film. That’s resulted in a lot of controversy, with some saying that Lee should not have gone to Kickstarter to raise funds because it’ll take away from other creators who lack Lee’s resources and celebrity.

I am CEO of a small tech company out of Seattle, and we recently launched a Kickstarter project called Call Control Home. It’s a device that blocks fraudulent robocalls by crowd sourcing and protects consumer privacy. And while Lee hasn’t backed our campaign or given us any advice about how to run a successful one, he’s done much more than that for our company and all of the other innovators chasing their dreams on Kickstarter.

I feel incredibly fortunate that our campaign kicked off in the midst of this.  While I have no way of knowing this for sure, my gut tells me that Kickstarter will see an enormous “spike” in traffic this week as a result of all of the media attention surrounding this controversy.

People who’ve never heard of Kickstarter or crowdsourcing are coming and backing his project — the company claims 47 percent of Lee’s supporters had never backed a Kickstarter before. And one can assume that after some of these visitors support Lee’s project, they’re going to continue exploring Kickstarter because — well, it’s just a site that draws you in – and probably bump into a project like ours.

Voila! Thanks, Spike.

Kickstarter has come out in Spike Lee’s defense arguing Kickstarter is not a zero sum game. And they are absolutely right. There is no maximum potential out there. There’s no limit to the amount of money that can be raised.

It’s my belief that people backing Spike’s campaign are going to be more likely to back other film projects, most of which are from independent creators without any celebrity cachet. They should thank Spike, too.

Not only is Spike helping our campaign by bringing more people to Kickstarter, but he has also inspired and motivated our team. His Kickstarter experience is not all that different than ours; he too was worried that the project wouldn’t take after it launched.

(Are you kidding, Spike Lee was nervous that his project wouldn’t fund?)

I’ve been riding that wave of emotion for the past three days since our campaign launched, and admittedly I’m still nervous about what will happen in the 22 days left to fund our own project.

But now I’m more confident than ever that Call Control Home will succeed and go from a Kickstarter dream to a real product in peoples’ homes. Thanks, Spike, for helping turn our dreams into a reality.

Ben Sharpe is CEO of Kedlin Company.