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Crowd-funding Site Offers Open Alternative to Kickstarter

Crowd-funding website Crowdtilt officially launched on Friday, expanding upon the collective fundraising model pioneered by Kickstarter to enable raising money for any project -- even a beer blitz.

Like Kickstarter, Crowdtilt allows users to create a fundraising campaign with a tipping point. If the effort falls short of the set amount, would-be donors are not charged. However, unlike Kickstarter, the platform allows users to "group fund anything." Users can initiate campaigns without first getting the approval of service administrators, which they must do on Kickstarter.

The site initially launched in Austin and Dallas, Texas, in private beta several months ago. The platform took off, according to a spokesman, with contributors to campaigns frequently contacting Crowdtilt about starting their own projects. But as founders James Beshara and Khaled Hussein watched Crowdtilt grow, they had to rejigger its mission.

Initially, Beshara intended the site to help charities raise money, which Kickstarter prohibits. "But," Beshara said in a press release, "I had to switch gears and focus the service for those that were using it over and over, which was for smaller, mostly private objectives."

One couple paid for their wedding using the crowd-funding service. Other successful campaigns have paid for gifts, vacations, and even an urban garden in Dallas. Only the last of these could potentially have earned a place on Kickstarter, which favors "projects with a creative purpose" and specifically bans "'fund my life' projects."

"We've taken our favorite elements from various crowd-funding platforms, and provided them for groups of friends," Beshara said. "With groups, the actual payments are the easy part. It's coordination and organizer anxiety that are the real issues. Both the organizer and participants ask, 'Are enough people going to do this with me?'" Crowdtilt's tipping point on funding offers an escape clause for social events that require a quorum.

Crowdtilt was incubated by Y Combinator. The company recently moved its offices from Austin to Palo Alto, California.

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