Chicagoans get Kickstarter guru's insights into making it work


Chicagoans yearning to see their ideas soar to final products and crowdfunding success get to hear from a Kickstarter pioneer and successful maker on Sept. 16.

That’s when Craighton Berman will offer tips on how to launch a product from idea to completion at a workshop at the Lost Arts workspace at 1001 N. Branch St.

The 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. session aims to give designers and innovators a step-by-step guide on conceiving a product idea, making it in a small batch, creating community backing, planning a marketing campaign and launching a successful Kickstarter project.

The process is much more than making money, says Berman, who has spearheaded six Kickstarter campaigns.

“Kickstarter is about marketing, getting community around you and meeting the right people,” he said.

Berman cited as a major turning point in his experience garnering more than 1,000 people to support his launch of a manual coffee maker made of glass. The sculptural product, equal parts aesthetics and functional, required a complex hand-made process that required Berman to go overseas for the first time to find a manufacturer.

“That was a big learning experience. It was really an empowering and intense experience,” he said.

It also taught Berman that a successful idea is rooted and bound in creativity, requiring an innovative idea for a product you won’t find in an everyday retail store. And that idea must be backed by a solid business plan.

He’s excited to talk with Chicagoans about making their ideas work, too, partly because he has been able to set up his own North Park neighborhood design studio. The business — Manual ( — designs and makes products for the “slow” food and beverage culture.

“Chicago has a deep history, especially on the corporate side, of industrial design, not to mention our architectural design,” he said, explaining why he believes Kickstarter sees an active community here.

“Though Chicago is a big city, you can afford to take chances, just like I’ve set up a studio in a storefront where I can run pop-up shops so people can see the products I’m developing,” he said. “I don’t think I could do that in New York or San Francisco.”

“There’s also a spirit in Chicago — a community,” he said.

Look no farther than the workshop meeting space itself — the Lost Arts space is the brainchild of Chicago native and Kickstarter co-founder Charles Adler, who describes it as “a blend of laboratory, workshop, atelier, incubator, school and playground rooted in a legacy of interdisciplinary spaces like the Bauhaus and Black Mountain College.”

Tickets cost $25; students’ discounted rate is $10.

The workshop will be followed by a community dinner from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. and a design meet-up and resource fair from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.