“THE FATHER OF the electric age just unknowingly became the posthumous grandfather of the crowd-funding age.”
So says “The Oatmeal” creator Matthew Inman, of his successful Indiegogo campaign that ended this weekend. The goal: To build a museum in tribute to great but “forgotten” scientist Nikola Tesla.
Inman is a noted champion of Tesla (as well as a noted railer against Edison), illuminating the lesser-known scientist’s genius in his Oatmeal webcomic “Why Nikola Tesla Was the Greatest Geek Who Ever Lived.” So it seemed entirely natural that he would lead the cause to build a Tesla museum in Shoreham, N.Y., where the great geek’s final lab was.
Inman’s goal was to raise $850,000. As he explained on the campaign page: ”The [Shoreham] property is listed at $1.6-million, and this non-profit has received a matching grant from New York State of up to $850k. This means that if we can raise $850k, New York State will match us for that same amount — putting the total raised at $1.7 million”
When the campaign ended late Saturday, the Indiegogo drive had raised more than $1.3-million.
“It's inspiring to see so much generosity towards Nikola Tesla,” Inman tells Comic Riffs. “How often do we get to have a direct impact on the legacy of a hero who's been dead and forgotten for 70 years? It's incredible to watch and be a part of.
”I always refer to Tesla as an unsung hero, but with what's happened on the Internet over the past few months, I'm not sure that's appropriate anymore,” continues Inman, who in June raised more than $220,000 for his "BearLove Good. Cancer Bad" charity drive. “We're singing his song right now, loud and clear -- and it's truly inspiring.”
Indiegogo co-founder Slava Rubin was also struck by the Internet's ability to spark current interest in a historical figure.
“This campaign is a great example of how an idea, fueled by thousands of funders from all over the world, can bring history back into the present,” Rubin tells Comic Riffs. “The desire to honor Tesla’s contributions by resurrecting his Science Center was enough to generate over 50-percent of the campaign’s funding goal in just 24 hours. They reached their $850,000 goal in less than a week with the help of over 32,000 contributions coming from every state in the U.S. and 108 countries.
“This is the power of crowdfunding—being able to democratically change the world, one dollar at a time.”