Hardware crowdfunding grows up and out of Kickstarter with new specialized platforms
Kickstarter was built for creative people — filmmakers, songwriters and artists. The fact that tech projects and gadgets have found a home there is just a very lucrative bonus for the company. Since it’s genesis in 2009, Kickstarter has facilitated $881 million worth of pledges. Tech is its fourth-largest category, beating out music, art and publishing with $96 million in pledges.
The problem comes when those tech projects bring their own unique commercial challenges, which many amateur inventors aren’t prepared to deal with. Often they launch a campaign based on a prototype they’ve built as a way to see whether anyone is actually interested in their cool idea. When they suddenly find themselves needing to manufacture and ship 10,000 units, things can get ugly. Pebble Watch is the most famous example — the company’s idea for a smartwatch was extremely popular and broke Kickstarter’s fundraising record with more than $10 million in pledges. But it was late to deliver its product and a minor backlash ensued. Kickstarter made it clear to the world that it is not responsible for what happens after you fund a project with its blog post, “Kickstarter Is Not a Store.”
Plenty of enterprising people see opportunity in Kickstarter’s hands-off position. Crowdfunded hardware is ripe for commercialization and professionalization. For example, a former post officerPandoDaily profiled is on track to make half a million dollars this year selling Apple accessories from Kickstarter campaigns on his site, Bitemyapple.