How The Oatmeal and Indiegogo Kept The Tesla Science Center Open

By Amit Chowdhry ● October 9, 2012

The Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe is excited to announce the successful completion of the Internet-based crowdfunding campaign that took place on  This effort was pushed by cartoonist Matthew Inman (known for  The Internet campaign raised $1,370,511 to help The Tesla Science Center buy Wardenclyffe, which is the only remaining laboratory in the world where scientist and inventor Nikola Tesla had worked.  The lab is based in Shoreham, NY.

After Inman learned about Wardenclyffe being in danger of getting sold and lost, Mr. Inman decided to get involved.  Wardenclyffe was listed at $1.6 million and the organization had an $850,000 reimbursement grant from New York State that was waiting to be used.  This means that the crowdfunding campaign had to raise $850,000 in six weeks.

Inman launched the fundraising campaign and challenged his followers to help him donate to the cause.  He created gifts like portraits, posters, and ad space on his blog to contributors on his blog.

Inman called the campaign “Let’s Build A Goddamn Tesla Museum” and they achieved the original goal in less than a week.  Over 33,000 contributions were made.  Below are some stats about the contributions:

  • Raised $100 per minute, $6,000 per hour, and $145,000 per day (on average)
  • Average contribution: $41
  • Most frequent contribution amount: $50

Some of the largest donors include filmmakers like Joseph Sikorski, Michael Calomino and Vic Elefante from Fragments From Olympus- The Vision of Nikola Tesla.  Their $33,333 pledge used all of their film’s seed money to take the science center over the original $850,000 goal.  Angel investor and founder of True Global Ventures Dusan Stojanovic offered a $33,333 matching grant and that was reached in 2 days.  Greg Tally, the owner of the Best Western Denver Southwest in Colorado donated $35,000.

Tesla is known for the formative patents around radio, robotics, remote control, bladeless turbine, etc.

“It’s inspiring to see so much generosity towards Nikola Tesla. 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. We’re singing his song right now, loud and clear — and it’s truly inspiring,” stated Mr. Inman.

“This is Indiegogo’s fastest growing campaign, having generated over 50% of its funding goal in just 24 hours, and reaching the full $850,000 in less than a week,” added Slava Rubin, CEO and Co-founder of Indiegogo. “Jane and Matthew had an idea, and it’s incredible to see how Tesla fans, the State of New York and the Indiegogo community have come together to resurrect and preserve Nikola Tesla’s achievements. This is the power of crowdfunding—being able to democratically change the world, one dollar at a time.”

“Thanks to Matthew Inman and thousands of Tesla fans from around the world who donated through Indiegogo, we are discussing the terms of purchase for Wardenclyffe with Agfa Corporation, the current owners of the site,” stated Jane Alcorn, the president of The Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe. “The level of support for this is a testament to the impact Tesla has made on the world, and it’s that impact that has spurred an international movement to make it happen. Tesla would have been delighted.”