Designer, technologist and entrepreneur.

A life-long nomad often found cycling, running or in the woods.

My name is Charles Adler. For much of my life I've been a designer and technologist tinkering with code directed toward accelerating the creative work of others.

In 2009 I launched Kickstarter with Perry Chen & Yancey Strickler. Since that time, Kickstarter has been catalyst to Academy Award winning films, National Design Award winning products, brought art to the desert, launched a satellite – creating over 300,000 jobs, distributing over $4.5 billion to creators across every continent. By now you've likely participated in a Kickstarter campaign as a backer, and maybe even launched your own. It's become the largest platform for creative projects globally. That's pretty rad, and frankly, humbling.

After leaving Kickstarter at the end of 2013, I began exploring new ways to empower independent creators.

Lost Arts was born in the summer of 2015 as a one-month experiment. A new format of workspace for ambitious creators in the 21st century. What began in a 4,000 square foot abandoned meat packing plant has grown into a 25,000 square foot space on Chicago's Goose Island. We've incubated urban agriculture products powered by AI, interactive public art installations, ovens producing amazing breads, and myriad other ideas. This project has now found a new medium – the internet. It's a circuitous story, and one best told over a cocktail or a long hike in the woods.


  • Lost Arts – A new platform for the global community of ambitious creators. Early development exploring the enablement of creators to engage with one another online & offline in service of aiding their ability to bring projects to market.
  • Kickstarter – The largest community funding platforms for creative projects globally, supporting a wide range of categories from art to film, design to technology.
  • Source ID – An independent design and technology studio based in New York and San Francisco, closed in 2009 during Kickstarters rise.
  • Subsystence I – 1996 broadcast site, empowering a global network of underground DJ's and electronic musicians.
  • Subsystence II – 2003 update, broadening to creators at large – music, photography, art, poetry, fiction, interactive art.


  • Designer Fund – A founding member of the Designer Fund Guild, supporting the Designer Fund, their portfolio companies and broader network of entrepreneurs & designers.
  • Freeman Design Leadership Council – Advise executive leadership on future technologies, culture and design toward a massive corporate change.
  • Chicago Design Museum – Executive Board member, focused on fundraising and economic growth.
  • Wabash Lights – Board member focused on establishing the first ever deeply interactive public art works in Chicago.
  • Techstars Chicago – Mentor, providing guidance and leadership to young entrepreneurs.
  • Chicago Humanities Festival – Advisory Council, aiding this deeply philosophical and critical institution evolve into the present and future.


I've had the privilege to share my views on entrepreneurship, the future of work, design & technology, and the creative economy with a global audience. From Moscow to Shanghai, Norway to Indonesia as well as the United States. With audiences massive and intimate I've shared the stage with such idols as Steve Wozniak, Kofi Annan, Jeanne Gang, Erik Spiekermann, Debbie Millman and others.

The fine folks at Chartwell manage my participation for all events globally. For enquiries please email

Select Speaking Engagements

  • Binary District (Moscow, Jul 2018)
  • Techfestival (Copenhagen, Sep 2017)
  • CPH150 (Paper Island, Sept 2017)
  • AdAsia (Indonesia, Nov 2017)
  • Olerom Forum 1 (Ukraine, Oct 2017)
  • Dentsu Leadership Conference (Ireland, Feb 2015)
  • World Internet Conference (China, Oct 2015)
  • Tsinghua University Forum (China, Dec 2015)
  • Hong Kong Design Week (China, Dec 2015)
  • Istanbul Innovation Week (Turkey, Dec 2015)
  • Design Thinkers (Canada, Nov 2014)
  • Barn Raise @ IIT (USA, Oct 2014)
  • RGD Design Thinkers (Canada, 2014)
  • Hackers on the Runway (France, Jul 2014)
  • Pioneers Festival (Austria, Oct 2013)
  • Hy! Berlin (Germany, Jun 2013)
  • Harvard x Design (USA, Jan 2013)
  • Build (Ireland, Nov 2012)
  • Mind the Product (England, Apr 2011)
"The rules were always meant to be broken. We're only breaking them faster."


From podcasts, articles, tv and documentaries, I've contributed thoughts & ideas related to technology, design, entrepreneurship, art, philanthropy, architecture and more.

For enquiries, please email You can download a bio and high-resolution photo here.

Selected Press Appearances

Socially Active