Austin’s Kickstarting Habits Analyzed

The Forrest Four-Cast: September 21, 2016

Self-described as “a publication that incites water cooler discussion about complex topics,” Polygraph provides innovative visual analyses of a lot of different kinds of data. Recent studies include the most watched Clinton and Trump videos in every American county, an exploration of unlikely NBA comebacks, plus film dialogue for 2000 screenplays broken down by gender and age. Way geeky number stuff, yes.

For September 2016, the website charts the history of Kickstarter projects— parsing this data out city by city. Plowing through these numbers and the ensuing Polygraph visualizations makes for some pretty fascinating reading (and viewing) — and strongly illustrates how much geography impacts specific development patterns. With regards to the creative community in Central Texas, some of the most interesting findings are as follows:

  1. Of the approximately 100,000 Kickstarter projects analyzed, 1756 came from Austin. This total is almost exactly the same as Boston (which weighed in at 1782 — although it should be noted that Boston and Cambridge are listed as two separate entities). The biggest user of Kickstarter is New York, with 11,429 total projects. Figures for New York include Brooklyn, where this crowd-funding site is based.
  2. 33% of the Kickstarter projects in Austin focused on music, making this the city’s biggest category. However, this figure is completely dwarfed in comparison to the creators in Nashville — 76% of their 1458 total projects were aligned with music. Our friends in Boston also scored slightly higher with regards to Music — their total for this category was 35%. Meanwhile, for both Seattle and Portland, music registered at 26%.
  3. Games accounted for only 6.6% of Austin’s Kickstarter projects. “Only” because the number is significantly higher for many other cities including Atlanta (9%), Dallas (17%), Houston (10%), and Indianapolis (29%). That said, the biggest Kickstarter projects coming out of Austin were all related to games — including efforts like “Million Dollars, But . . the Game” (from Rooster Teeth) and “Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues” (from Richard Garriott’s Portalarium Studios).
  4. What Kickstarter labels as “Technology” only accounted for 3.6% of the projects in Austin — just slightly below the national average of 3.7%. Other cities with higher technology totals include Boston (4.8%), Dallas (4.5%), San Diego (7.3%), and San Francisco (8%). While funding options for Austin technology entrepreneurs are always a question, the Polygraph findings indicate that crowdfunding isn’t often the answer for these kinds of founders.

One way or another, this data reaffirms that different cities in the United States are innovating in very different ways. Moreover, the Polygraph study provides an entirely different set of metrics for us to re-evaluate our definitions of the nation’s top startup cities. That and it makes me want to buy a lot more back-up smart phone battery chargers, which is my particular crowdfunding fetish. Tilt away, Kickstarter king.

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