No mistake in supporting project

I’ve made a huge mistake.

As you may have seen on these pages a week ago, I offered a Coke to anybody who could guess one of the four country songs on my mp3 player. The competition is now closed, with no winners but a few arguing they won on second-chance entries.

But as little as I listen to country music, I give no effort to listen to Middle Eastern music. No Turkish, Syrian, Iraqi, Egyptian, Persian or Levantine tracks can be found on my mp3 player. But that didn’t stop me from becoming a supporter on Monday night.

It’s called crowdfunding, one of the newest ways the Internet is democratizing business and ingenuity. A person pitches a product they want to create, and offer product-based incentives to backers.

There are more than a dozen reliable crowdfunding sites that I know of, but Kickstarter’s had the most success lately — including two projects that hit $1 million in backing.

For each project, the project designer creates a pitch video — what they want to do, what they need to pay for and how they’ll reward backers. Backers only pay if the project is fully funded, at which point Kickstarter and Amazon (which handles payments) both take percentage cuts.

Project creators get to find out if their idea is a dud before they invest a lot of time in it, and backers get to have their hands on a product months before the general public.

The model worked well for MINIMAL, which decided it wanted to create a casing that would become a high-tech wristwatch when an iPod Nano was added. Apple told MINIMAL the product was too expensive. On Kickstarter, 13,512 people disagreed, and funded the project to the tune of $942,578. Guess what company wants to work with MINIMAL now.

Crowdfunding sites are now a time-killer for me, as I like to look at what people are pitching. Most of the stuff is either too pricey for my liking, or I just would never use the product.

But I still find things worth my time. I’d backed two projects coming into Monday night, and I was just seeing what projects were oh-so-close to reaching 100 percent funding. That’s when I found the Nautilauta, a musical instrument built to handle several types of music.

Its creator, Eric Ederer, has dreamed of building this instrument for years. Monday night, he was $19 away from 100 percent funding. A few clicks later, I could tell Ederer and his 90-plus backers, “I got this.”

A few minutes later, I got an email from Ederer — who was likely glued to his screen waiting for 100 percent. “Excuse me,” he wrote, “while I go dance in little circles around my living room.”

He’s probably done dancing by now. He expects the instrument to be completed by May 15 — my birthday, coincidentally — and my reward level means a CD of songs from the Nautilauta will be coming my way.

I hope to see and back more projects as time goes on — maybe even some local ones.

Whether I like the Nautilauta album this summer will be a mystery for now, but I do know one thing. In regards to creativity and helping a stranger out, I’ve made no mistake.