Is Kickstarter the Best Place to Raise Funding?
Kickstarter was launched as an art projects funding platform in 2009. It soon expanded into different project categories to become what it is today. This paved the way for inventors and creators to create a business model around designing and launching projects on a monthly basis to raise capital. In this campaign exploration series, we will cover dozens of very popular and highly funded Kickstarter campaigns and dive in a bit to why they were popular and successful.
Kickstarter is a unique crowdfunding platform simply because it has a fair algorithm that will present one’s campaign and objectively communicate with creators. This is not the case with some other competitor platforms.
There is a pretty good chance you have already backed a project on Kickstarter or some other crowdfunding platform, so you know that consumer product categories such as technology or design will offer the actual product you are pledging to support. These products are later made and delivered with the same funds gathered during the campaign. The system is not new and has been done throughout history but lately, we see a rise in startups and full-fledged brands building up from their first product being funded this way.
Besides great art events, movies and tabletop games funded this way, entrepreneurs saw a huge potential in the audience Kickstarter presented, and in the early days, it was possible for an individual creator to collect thousands of dollars by making a video with your phone! Backers would pour on your campaign page, the blogs would share your campaign and really contribute to the whole effort. This was a golden age for crowdfunding when the common folk, like us, could raise without spending a lot on marketing. This golden age has been over for awhile. We will try to get to the bottom of this and find out why.
"Investor money was the only way until…"
Before crowdfunding platforms, the only way to fund an idea was to do it yourself, through friends and family or to give a piece of something potentially worth a lot, for small support by an investor. None of these are a horrible option but the way to offer your product before it is even finalized was unheard of and picked up quite a number of adopters over the years.
Many startups offering, for example, a titanium carabiner, thought this was a great model to bring new ideas and fund small production runs with a good margin. Some brands on Kickstarter have 30+ campaigns and their communities are highly supportive. This truly was another level of funding opportunity and investors started taking notice. Crowdfunding nowadays is considered a fintech category based on how many innovative financial services are created around common reward-based crowdfunding.
Would they make them anyway?
Interviews with creators of top-funded campaigns present the reality of taking a product idea and not only obtaining funding for that idea but also feedback and community building element, which may be even more important. If the community is built well, the subsequent releases of the first product funded can be easily realized. This is truly how anything crowdsourced should work and showcase the power of an audience coming together for the common good.
The early unicorns that helped Kickstarter
In this blog series, we will go through several early but well-funded campaigns which propelled the idea of crowdfunding ideas and gained Kickstarter’s early following. Some of these projects come from established brands already offering their products on the market and they used the platform with its exposure potential to introduce new product categories. Today, brands like Lego, Anker, Beats will have soft launches done through one of the mainstream platforms.
Raised $1M | Backers 14K
During the iPod hype and early smartwatch adoption, the Minimal Design studio aimed to offer a way to wear your miniature iPod on your wrist and utilise its functionality. The response from the community was amazing and this campaign is considered to be the first high profile product campaign.
The brand continued to evolve and publish several (also well funded) campaigns in the category of smartphone accessories and everyday carry items.
Raised $10.2M | Backers 70K
A small startup based in California managed to engineer a smartwatch with a long-lasting battery utilising the e-paper technology. They made it open source so the effect was amplified with an army of coders and designers rushing to develop their own watch faces and apps.
With the platform and community established already with the first campaign, the brand continued to develop more advanced smartwatches and ultimately be acquired by Fitbit company.
Raised $3M | Backers 2K
At the time, buying a resin (liquid) based 3D printer was a very expensive investment and Form Labs startup made a true breakthrough scaling the industrial-grade printers to a consumer work desk level/grade device. With a line of new generation 3D printers to come after this model, Kickstarter was truly a way for this amazing idea and later company to become a reality.
With a young inventor team, a couple of expensive technologies and hardware components had to be scaled down but at the same time providing a truly high-level consumer 3D printing quality, they managed to do it and today stand as a benchmark in the category.
Raised $650k | Backers 6K
The market for smart padlocks and door locks was growing but these systems were very expensive and hard to install. Fuz startup came in with a simple device and app on your phone. You were all set up and ready to lock/unlock your door or bike from a distance and interact with the product in various ways. The campaign presented a thorough engineering and prototyping process which enhanced the interest and gained viral popularity in social media - the campaign was a hit!
Do you have an idea? Let's Talk!
Most of these campaigns are familiar to anyone backing new ideas in the makerspace and you as a backer do enable these great creators to develop, upgrade and kickstart even more products. The community is strong and growing! The creators appreciate every feedback coming from a wide range of individuals just being hyped about the idea or sparing some time to just selflessly contribute to the cause. So get out there and support your local makers, whenever, and wherever, you can! If you have an idea, let's talk here!