How can entrepreneurs and artists raise money fast to launch a product -- and never have to pay the cash back? Hitting up friends and family used to be the only way, but now there's Kickstarter, an online funding platform with which "patrons" donate money to creative projects that catch their fancy.
Where online-lending platforms such as Prosper.com and Lending Club have helped small businesses get small loans for years, Kickstarter uses a "donor" funding model that means the money raised is essentially a gift.
This fundraising method is not for every business. Service businesses, for example, are pretty much left out in the cold here. But if you have a specific product or project that might appeal to art- and design-loving donors, Kickstarter offers a chance to skip the loan payments and find new prospective customers, too.
In addition, make sure to read these articles: