Experiment: What If We All Did Our Part to Learn More About This Universe?
"It is okay to give yourself permission." Read about the Kickstarter for science experiments bringing exploration and discovery back to the people.
My encounter with Experiment was an interesting one because it was a venture concept I was searching for at the moment. I had met a cosmologist in Boulder on a bus ride out to the Denver Airport who told me about his dependency on NASA for funding and infrastructure, so I asked, "Well what if I wanted to help you make your research proposals happen? What if millionaires and billionaires wanted to help make them happen? Is there a way we can privatize scientific research?"
A quick Google search later brought me to Experiment.com. It's essentially a crowdfunding platform for scientific research. Founded by scientists and technologists, Experiment democratizes science and allows ordinary citizens to help advance our knowledge and find answers to the unknown. The potential implications are huge. Democratizing scientific research allows each individual to do their part in finding more certainty and stability in a seemingly chaotic universe. We're on a fast track to understanding the world we live in more because of Experiment.
Similar to investing in cool companies or projects, you're using Experiment to invest in a science project. If you are a scientist looking to be funded, you send your proposal in for approval and start raising money. Most projects on the site appear to be around the several-thousand-dollar range so far, but there is nothing stopping scientists from raising multi-million dollar projects once Experiment develops a larger audience.
Experiment allows the science community to have a closer, more mutually-understanding relationship with the public. Although each research proposal goes through a vetting process, few are rejected as long as you can share your results and lab notes with the Experiment community. Transparency and open access to knowledge for all are important to the company.
So far, Experiment has had incredible traction and impact. It has over one million members who have supported over 900 funded experiments, and there have been over 20 published papers in scientific journals through funded experiments. Experiment was part of Y Combinator in 2013 where it was discovered by top investors in the nation and continues gaining support from the public while focusing on automation and staying profitable. More importantly, Experiment stays true to its mission of solving the issue of the unpredictable lack of research funding and bringing more active participation from the public to the science community.
An Interview with Cindy Wu, CEO of Experiment
What is your vision of success for the company, and what are some big barriers you see potentially hindering that success?
"Success is an elusive thing. Building an enduring organization has always been appealing to me. Success for me probably means the company is making more money than it spends building a product people love serving users your team admires. If all of this can happen while me and my co-founder are away, that will be success to me. Most companies are not really set up to do this well, to continue with the mission once the founders are gone.
Crowdfunding as a business model is hard. Experiment makes and spends less than $2,000 per month, which is great. Some months it feels like the business is living paycheck to paycheck."
What milestones are you looking towards in the next few months?
"Experiment stays alive? Haha, but seriously. Experiment doesn't have any full-time staff and the organization is on autopilot right now. My co-founder and I are working on a new company.
What advice do you have for people who want to make a difference in this world?
"It is okay to give yourself permission. Trust yourself over everyone else."
What have been the coolest projects you've seen funded on Experiment?
"Asking me to choose the coolest projects is like asking me to pick my favorite child. I can't do it."
These are just some of the projects that have been funded on Experiment so far:
- "Why do informed consumers refrain from buying ethical products?" - $1,911 raised of a $1,900 goal
- "Bio-Fluorescence on Coral Reefs as a Measure of Reef Health" - $7,435 raised of $6,652 Goal
- "Is climate change depleting an untapped water resource?" - $2,692 raised of $2,430 Goal
- "Can brown rot and white rot fungi work together to clean up spilled diesel?" - $4,620 raised of $4,500 Goal
- "Home sick: Effects of migratory beekeeping on honey bee disease" - $5,970 raised of $5,900 Goal
What accomplishments has your company experienced so far, and what does the future look like for you?
"There are a lot of fancy things this company has accomplished, such as press or investment or record campaigns of number of dollars raised. The biggest accomplishment of all is in most months the company is able to make more money than it spends. Until an organization can operate in the black, the organization doesn't have true freedom. Experiment will be serving scientists and backers that want to support science for a very, very long time."
Funding the future of scientific research is easy. Visit Experiment.com to browse projects to fund or start a research project of your own.