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Can Kickstarter Keep It Real?

The co-founder of Kickstarter on progress, patronage, and potato salad.

In 2009, music journalist Yancey Strickler stood in the packed audience at Brooklyn’s Monster Island venue and caught an inspiring performance by the San Francisco rock band Girls. Strickler had liked what he heard and so he approached the band about releasing their first single “Hellhole Ratrace” digitally, through his micro-imprint eMusic Selects. Before too long, Girls had become a critically adored band with a coveted Best New Music-designation on Pitchfork, sold-out nationwide tours, and received coverage in major magazines like Vogue and Rolling Stone. Even back then, Strickler believed that it’s one thing to appreciate the arts, but it’s another thing to be actively involved in them.

And now, years later, Strickler, along with his two partners Perry Chen and Charles Adler, has made a business out of patronage. With the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, just about anyone can be as actively involved in the arts as Strickler was, by, for example, supporting and investing into something as admirable as an Academy Awards nominated documentary or helping relaunch the educational Reading Rainbow program, to funding feats of pure silliness like the bronzing of a bunny sculpture in San Francisco’s Lower Haight neighborhood or backing a dude determined to make his first potato salad (the latter, incidentally, raised $55,000).

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This Startup is Taking On Prison’s Other Form of Isolation

Fredrick Hutson's Pigeonly helps connect the incarcerated with the outside world.

Photo courtesy of Reuters/Lucy Nicholoson

Frederick Hutson was always entrepreneurial. As a kid growing up in Brooklyn, he did odd jobs for neighbors, and after receiving an honorable discharge from the Air Force, he bought and sold a series of small businesses. When an old friend told Hutson about a marijuana smuggling business he was involved with, Hutson thought he saw a smarter way of running the operation. As he told The New York Times, it seemed like a way to make enough to start a few legitimate companies. He shipped the drugs through his Las Vegas mail store using DHL, UPS, and FedEx—netting upwards of $500,000 a year—until 10 Drug Enforcement Agency officers showed up with guns drawn. He was sentenced to 51 months in prison. Hutson was 24.

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It happens about once every two months. A dinner. A tradition. A family gathering. Circled around the table are five people who very easily could have never crossed paths in an entire lifetime, but have become essential to each other’s existence. On the surface, the relationships may seem like a stretch – a 24-year-old from East New York, a 32-year-old from Brownsville, a 27-year-old from Queens by way of Los Angeles, and a married couple fresh off giving their 19-month0old daughter a bath. But, the dynamic is perfect, happy, and real.

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It’s been an exciting time for entrepreneurs here in the U.S., especially those who are looking to raise capital for their startups. On September 23, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) lifted the ban on general solicitation (aka Title II, which allows startups to publicly advertise that they’re raising capital), and now the crowd-investing community is patiently waiting for the passage of Title III (to allow anyone to invest in startups and small businesses in exchange for equity/shares of the company). So why should entrepreneurs and investors care about Title III? Because this new law will allow everyday “normal” people to invest their money into innovative startups they support and believe. Can you believe that this is currently illegal?

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Three Ways to Help More Women and Girls Stand Up and Take Risks

Startup Weekend Women's Edition shows that we need to take specific action to help inspire more women and girls to stand up and take risks.

I'm GOOD's first Fellow, and I'm on a yearlong mission to discover the best practices in entrepreneurship education, and figure out how they are (or aren't) empowering middle and high school-aged girls. Follow and engage with me on my journey of learning and doing.

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How Transportation Startup Uber Nails Public Relations

For all intents and purposes, and despite some hairy legal troubles, Uber is the pinnacle of startup success stories.

For all intents and purposes, and despite some hairy legal troubles, Uber is the pinnacle of startup success stories. The four-year-old business is growing at a rapid clip—expanding overseas and even recently, into Africa and China. The luxury car service smartphone app is reportedly getting another $150 million in funding, including backing from Google, and is valued at $3.5 billion.

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