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Kickstarted: How one company is revolutionizing product development

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Kickstarter is funding an era of product development uncompromised by focus groups and committees

The million dollar idea. We’ve all had it at one time or another, with very few luxuries to show for our sudden fits of brilliance. Unfortunately, it’s not the idea but its execution that yields rewards. Faced with the daunting prospect of applying for a bank loan or seeking private investors, most would-be inventors wither against the obstacles, shrinking into the comfort and stability of their nine-to-five lives and disappearing into what T. S. Eliot called the shadow between conception and creation. Never pursuing their passion. Never taking a risk to bring something new into this world.

Enter Kickstarter, a thoroughly modern twist on the concepts of commerce and patronage; an approach so alluring that it now counts over one million people who have combined to pledge more than $100 million to fund ideas both big and small, serious and whimsical, since it launched in April of 2009. Kickstarter projects span the creative fields of art, comics, dance, design, fashion, film, food, games, music, photography, publishing, theater and technology. It’s this latter category that interests us and the savvy venture capitalists, manufacturers, and retailers who regularly monitor Kickstarter’s pages in the hope of getting a jump on the next big thing.

A million dollars isn't cool. You know what's cool? Six thousand dollars.
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From the moment of its unveiling on September 1st, 2010, Scott Wilson, a self-described watch fetishist and former Global Creative Director for Nike, felt the desire to build a watch band for the 6th generation iPod nano. Not just any watch band, "Everyone is going to make a plastic one," said Scott whose goal was to make a band that he wanted to wear and maybe sell a few hundred to other watch geeks along the way. "Other people, even people in the studio didn't believe in what I was doing, they thought I was wasting my time."

A few months later, Scott took a chance and placed his TikTok + LunaTik project on Kickstarter, earning more than $6,000 in pledges on its first day. An impressive start driven by the project’s appearance in a November 17th Co.Design article written by Cliff Kuang. "There's nothing more validating," says Scott, clearly in awe that so many Kickstarter patrons would endeavor to help him bring his concept to market. "I was coming off a pretty rough emotional partnership failure literally weeks before where I lost a year's worth of fees and development time," he laments in the matter-of-fact tone that comes from having a deep emotional wound healed with time. "It was amazing," he said, reinforcing Scott's belief that artists and designers sometimes do their best work in times of upheaval. "Let's see where this goes."

What happened next is the stuff of crowd-funding legend.

"One of the other guys from the studio was in the brainstorm with me, and we're like, thumbs up — I mean, holy crap!"

"We took a pool," said Scott, now speaking in the eager cadence more customary to this serial entrepreneur, "expecting it to hit $7,000 or $8,000, or maybe $10,000 by midnight." Feeling confident that he'd reach his modest funding goal of $15,000 well before the cutoff still a month away, Scott joined a friend at a bar for an interview. He left at 5:45pm, arriving at the bar by 6pm. Scott was greeted with a text from his wife as he entered saying the project was now at $22,000. "You're looking at the wrong project," he responded with a laugh. Minutes later the project had reached $30,000. Scott paused the interview to open the web browser on his phone, thinking "what the heck just happened?" What happened was a blog post by Kyle VanHemert of Gizmodo under the headline "The iPod Nano Watches to Rule Them All (Trust Me Here)." A few giddy drinks later it was at $50,000 and time to celebrate. "I called all the guys and we went to a bar by my house. The pledges were just pouring into my inbox, I just kept refreshing. By the time we went to bed, it was at almost $80,000."

One month later, the project would close with $942,578 pledged by 13,512 backers across 50 countries. Thousands of people who, by way of their credit cards, said "I like what you’re doing Scott, and I’d like to be a part of it." Scott would sell 21,120 units on Kickstarter alone, selling more than 20,000 additional bands through his lunatik.com site.

Then, on October 4th, 2011, Apple's Phil Schiller would stand in front of a 50-foot projected TikTok watch band as he revealed several new iPod nano watch faces to the world's media. "I was in the middle of a brainstorm, a client workshop, and my phone started going nuts," Scott recalled, "I was like, I have to look. One of the other guys from the studio was in the brainstorm with me, and we're like, thumbs up. I mean, holy crap!"

Scott's now ramping his watch bands in preparation for the holiday season, even adding a new premium model and a modular watch insert in response to demand. He recently returned to Kickstarter with his second project: the LunaTik Touch Pen — it was funded after just three days into the 60 day campaign.

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Some might find Scott's reaction to his Kickstarter experience surprisingly effusive given his impressive curriculum vitae. As founder of MNML Inc., a Chicago-based design house, Scott helped put form around the function of the slim Microsoft Xbox 360, Kinect controller, and elusive Dell Venue Pro sliding Windows Phone handset. Notoriously, it was Scott and Co. who lent J. Allard's Microsoft team a hand with the design of the doomed Courier tablet — a skunkworks project of mythological proportions killed in the final stages of development, much to the disappointment of Scott and countless gadgets nerds worldwide. Yet listening to Scott reminisce about his experience with crowd-funding is indicative of just how disruptive Kickstarter is to the status quo of product development.

For Scott, the process of taking an idea from art to part uncompromised by committee was a revelation, causing him to question everything he knows about bringing an idea to market. "Why am I spending so much time with that client," he laughs from a place of obvious and incessant frustration. "You believe in something and it gets focus-grouped to death. There's nothing more validating than 13,000 people around the world putting their credit card down for something that doesn't exist. Ever since then I've started questioning, and looking at how I can change my business and embrace that new way of engaging consumers." Scott's not alone.

Kickstarter's technology projects have been making regular appearances on tech blogs ever since Scott Wilson’s TikTok+LunaTik watch bands received almost a million dollars in pledges (still a Kickstarter record). However, only about 10 percent of all Kickstarter projects are gadget related. About 10,000 projects from every ilk have been funded so far, and of those, 94 percent have raised more than their funding goal.

Even with all of its successes, about half of all Kickstarter projects fail to secure any funding at all — Kickstarter’s all-or-nothing policy commits backers only after a project closes with pledges matching or exceeding its funding goal. Projects that do not meet their funding goals are not charged for using the service. In the case of the TikTok+LunaTik project, Kickstarter’s five percent fee netted the company $47,128.90.

So, what's the secret? What makes one project more successful than another, and more importantly: is it worth the effort? Those are the questions we attempt to answer through a series of interviews with a half-dozen Kickstarter project leaders who collectively have raised almost two million dollars.

Tell a passionate story

Tell a passionate story

Passion is infectious. It attracts attention on Kickstarter just as it does in real life. Successful Kickstarter projects tell a story that connects with the reader at an emotional level. The pitch is personal, not corporate, and honest above all else. A smarmy tone will be vetted and expelled from the community for its impudence. A project built from a PowerPoint foundation will be met with a reflexive Command+w (or Ctrl+w, if you prefer).

The most effective way to tell a story on Kickstarter is with video. In fact, video is the first thing potential backers see when they open a project page. If it doesn’t set the hook, if it doesn’t connect, readers will never consider clicking the "back this project" button.

Studio Neat’s Tom Gerhardt and Dan Provost successfully raised funding for two high-profile projects — the Glif tripod mount and stand for the iPhone 4 and Cosmonaut wide-grip stylus for capacitive touchscreens. "It's super critical," says Tom, "The language of Kickstarter is video, text is secondary." Fortunately, Dan’s passion for film and knowledge of the tools required to produce a professional-looking video were a great asset to the team — the Glif promotion was shot in a day requiring only a couple of hours editing. "We didn’t think we’d sell a bunch so we didn’t want to spend too much time and money on the video." Glif would go on to earn $137,417 in pledges from 5,273 backers representing a 1,374 percent premium over Glif’s stated funding goal. Their followup Cosmonaut project fared almost as well.

"The language of Kickstarter is video, text is secondary."


Brendan Dawes agrees. The Creative Director at Beep Industries, the company behind the Popa (or Red Pop, as the project was known on Kickstarter) "big red button" camera accessory for the iPhone 4 / 4s, considers video the most important part of the pitch. "It's not about how slick it looks," said Brendan, "it’s that what you're saying is believable and honest. Does it come from the heart?" Nevertheless, Popa, like all of the successful projects we spoke with still created a high-quality video. In fact, the Popa team took things to a professional firm that learned of the project through Twitter. Daylight of Manchester, UK agreed to a strict budget set by the project, thus allowing Popa to shoot and cut the video in about a week for right around £1,000. By the time they were done, Beep’s Popa project had garnered pledges in excess of $48,000 (more than double its goal) from 611 enthusiastic backers.

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Music is the other key element. Like the video, the soundtrack should set the right tone without breaking the budget. The team behind the popular GoPano Micro 360-degree iPhone 4 / 4S lens and video software tried, and failed, to gain permission to use "Crazy" by Cee Lo Green for its Kickstarter project. The team ended up licensing a song from an open music site instead. "We must have had a thousand people write in asking for the name of the song," said Brad Simon, head of Sales and Marketing for EyeSee360. "We only paid $15 for the song, we were going to pay Cee Lo Green a lot more but they turned us down." The Glif and Cosmonaut team went straight to the band for permission and then splashed a credit at the end of the video as compensation.

Keep it simple, stupid

Keep it simple, stupid

Obviousness and simplicity are the other critical components to any successful Kickstarter project. A technology project that leaves the reader questioning the related science or the team's ability to execute on an idea will likely fail to secure funding. Kickstarter backers are, by-and-large just regular Joes, fished out of the same gene pool that questions climate change and the veracity of moon landing reports.

As Studio Neat’s Tom Gerhardt tells it, "Remember you're a human being trying to get other human beings to help you out. So keep it as simple as humanly possible. If you think it's simple enough, make it more simple." A sentiment echoed by GoPano’s Brad Simon who said, "For this to take off and to be as widespread as we think it'll be, it's gotta be simple." That simplicity and obviousness of the GoPano Micro design resonated with 2,685 people who pledged a total of $169,209 — 846 percent of the funding required to launch the product.

"Remember you're a human being trying to get other human beings to help you out."

Comparing the Revolights and PumpTire projects is useful to understand how simplicity can affect funding. Both projects appeared on Kickstarter at roughly the same time, both made claims of revolutionary advances in bicycle technology, and both promised to deliver their respective products about six months after the funding was received.

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In the end, Revolights — a lighting system that improves night-time illumination — was funded, PumpTire — a self-inflating tire — wasn't. While the latter would seem to be the more obvious candidate for funding, the technology behind the project raised more questions than it answered. The fact that PumpTire was still investigating the material science required to make a critical component more durable didn’t help its case.

We asked Revolights' Jim Houk why he thought his team's project was successful and PumpTire wasn’t. "I can’t say, I honestly don’t know," said the project’s self-proclaimed inspirational speaker. "The consumer really is the driver behind any of this. The market will tell you what products will work and what products won’t. I think they’re both viable products and both good ideas." After a moment of reflection, Jim added, "One of the benefits we had is the attention grabbing look of it. It’s a product that catches the eye and is something we got lucky with." Lucky to the tune of $215,621 in pledged funding from 1,442 people, well beyond the stated goal of $43,500. The fact that PumpTire set its funding goal at a seemingly insurmountable $250,000 out of the gate didn’t help its cause (the average Kickstarter project raises less than $10,000).

In retrospect, the PumpTire video pitch lacked what Revolights had in abundance: the "ah ha!" moment — an involuntary response felt upon seeing the Revolights used for the first time. It takes a full minute and 40 seconds to get there, but there’s an undeniable climax of understanding when the lighting technology is finally demonstrated.

Get the word out

Get the word out

Shrewd project leaders can, and should, exploit the very nature of tech blogging for the increased exposure they all but guarantee
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When it comes to crowd-sourced funding, the bigger the crowd the more likely you are to reach your funding goals. This truism of Kickstarter culture is clearly illustrated by the TikTok+LunaTik project: a niche design blog picks up the story and captures the attention of a massive general interest site with millions of readers in tow. Some projects only require a spark to ignite a firestorm of funding. Others — the vast majority, in fact — require the concentrated efforts of the project team to steadfastly fan that spark into an accelerated burn of attention.

The Glif team had an ace up its sleeve for its Kickstarter launch. "When we first started, we just sent an email to John Gruber," said Dan Provost, "We were lucky because he had linked to my blog a couple of times in the past, so I wasn’t just a stranger coming out of nowhere, he at least knew who I was." Dan sent Gruber a prototype to see what he thought. "After he posted on Daring Fireball, we didn’t have to do much of anything. It just snowballed from there."

Brendan Dawes found himself in a similar position having had his group’s MoviePeg iPhone and iPad stand featured on Daring Fireball and other tech blogs in 2010. So when he decided to hinge the launch of his new company, Beep Industry, on the back of the team’s Popa Kickstarter project, John was one of the first people to hear about it. Here’s how Brendan describes it: "We were 48 hours in, with about $7,500 pledged of our $20,000 goal. I got on a plane and landed a couple of hours later to get a text message saying ‘the site is down!’ Basically John Gruber tweeted it and put it on Daring Fireball. It just went nuts — it brought the server down." The project hit the funding goal by the time Dawes completed the one hour journey home. "John loved the story of it. It wasn’t just the product, he loved that it was all about my dad. That’s what resonated with him." By the weekend Popa had amassed over $40,000 in pledges.

The Revolights team lucked out when Core77 posted a story about the project on the very morning that the Kickstarter project was scheduled to go live. "It was very fortunate timing," said Jim Houk, "Because of that we decided to get Kickstarter up now, and not wait for the afternoon." The Core77 post was only the initial wave of support. "We got pretty lucky in that the cycling community is very open and engaged," Jim said, "People talk to people so we got a lot of secondary and ancillary reviews based on our original review from Core77. People started reposting that and putting that out to their own specific blogs and networks. It was kind of organic growth in that way." The Revolights team didn't rest though, focusing its communication efforts on bigger technology sites until it finally landed a post on Gizmodo, pushing the project's funding over the top.

You may not know any influential bloggers but you do know how to setup a Twitter account and Facebook page. And you can certainly complete the tip forms so prominently displayed on major tech blogs. Everyone likes an underdog and technology journalists and bloggers love being first to bring attention to an inspired idea. Shrewd project leaders can, and should, exploit the very nature of tech blogging for the increased exposure they all but guarantee.

Expect failure but prepare for success

Expect failure but prepare for success

The incident invites the question of just how long before the goodwill of the Kickstarter community is violated

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Caveat Backer

To Kickstarter, success is measured in terms of funding, not project execution — though the two are intimately intertwined. As mentioned earlier, if backers doubt a project's claims then it's unlikely to meet its funding goal. Yet even suspicious projects bordering on scams can occasionally slip through the community's collective sensibility.

The Tech-Sync Power System project easily exceeded its funding goal of $2,000 after just a few days, racking up pledges totaling more than $27,000 in the weeks that followed. Backers, growing increasingly suspicious with the project's claims, asked its creator for images and video of a working prototype. After a bizarre sequence of excuses, the project's creator, Steven Washington, canceled the project — no credit cards were charged but Kickstarter had to step in to calm the community.

The incident is notable for both its rarity and for highlighting the critical role trust plays in any crowd-sourced system. From a narrow perspective, the project illustrates an oversight in the vetting process that led to the project's approval — about 60 percent of all applications are approved by a Kickstarter team of less than ten people that vets projects primarily for adherence to guidelines, not the veracity of each project's claims. It also demonstrates a failure of the community to draw attention to the dubious claims before the project could reach its funding goal and nearly commit backers to handing over their cash pledges. From a wider perspective, the project confirms an inherent system of checks and balances that successfully detected the bunk project and canceled it before any credit cards could be charged. It does beg the question though, of how long before the goodwill of the Kickstarter community is violated, similar to the "EJ" vandalism debacle that caused Airbnb to enact more stringent property sharing policies and assurances.

Communication

Even with all its well publicized successes, not every Kickstarter project will be funded. In fact, about half fail to secure their financial goals leaving project leads with nothing to show for their effort. However, failure in Kickstarter terms doesn’t necessarily translate to failure for the project.

Although the PumpTire project wasn’t funded, CEO Benjamin Krempel is determined to bring his innovation to market with the help of partners, venture capitalists, or even a return to Kickstarter. "I think it’s an awesome site," said Ben, "I have nothing but positive things to say about the Kickstarter experience." While it wasn’t a funding success, PumpTire has gained global visibility thanks to a number of large tech sites that picked up the story, including Wired, CNET, and Engadget. In fact, Ben says, "Just recently I was contacted by a major bicycle tire manufacturer who is interested in the technology." The team is busy with the engineering and due diligence right now, and one way or another, Ben plans to begin selling his self-inflating tires within the next 12 or 24 months.

When the Kickstarter community does bite upon your idea then you’d better be prepared for the deluge of questions and comments that follow. Queries arrive via Facebook, Twitter, email, in blog comments and discussion forums, and the Kickstarter site itself; from backers and potential backers as you'd expect, but also from journalists, venture capitalists, and other parties with a vested interest in learning more about your product.

"You get an insane amount of emails, questions and comments." Said Jim Houk of the Revolights project, "The volume was much higher than we had anticipated and with that we just knew that we had to buckle down and respond to every one." The Revolights team formalized their process by making one person responsible for vetting all communications. An approach that allowed the most knowledgeable team member to answer each query while ensuring every request was answered. "This is essentially the way that we can establish customer service with potential future customers. We wanted them to know that we would be available and responsive. Each backer was very important to us, even potential backers and we wanted to show that."

"People misinterpret Kickstarter sometimes and think of it as a store instead of a place where you're going to help people make projects."

Problems also arise when a project gets too much attention. Regulars of the Kickstarter community understand that, as a patron, they're directly contributing to helping someone make their dream a reality, and hitching a ride on the journey. The steady stream of eyeballs fed to the site from highly-trafficked consumer electronics and design blogs, however, often brings in backers who fail to grasp the nuance. "People misinterpret Kickstarter sometimes and think of it as a store," said Dan Provost, "instead of a place where you're going to help people make projects."

Backers with a more consumer-based mindset don't take kindly to product delays. "Try to avoid giving people firm dates on when things will arrive," said Tom Gerhardt, "Don't try to excite people with delivery dates, don't make it a feature of your product. Apple does a really good job at keeping things quiet until they know and I think that's really smart." Tom's business partner, Dan Provost agrees, "Taper expectations and try to over-deliver instead of under-delivering because you set expectations too high."

Successfully funded project teams also receive unsolicited pitches from manufacturers, suppliers, retailers, distribution, and fulfillment agencies all hoping to stake a piece of the value chain. Each link in said chain can stretch the capabilities of a project team that, more often than not, has very little experience working directly with manufacturers, especially in China, or with coordinating the shipment of actual product to hundreds or even tens of thousands of backers. Teams must also deal with all the complexities associated with the inevitable product returns, failed payments, and on-going customer support. As such, one of biggest problems for project teams now flush with cash, is knowing which unsolicited offers to trust when operating well beyond their own areas of expertise.

As a company, Kickstarter is "pretty hands-off" according to Revolights' Jim Houk, "We reached out to them a couple of times, initially with some questions, and they just basically said 'hey, talk to your legal representatives or accountant.' They literally are providing the conduit for people to gain access to potential backer funding. I think it's a great concept and a great idea. They don't provide you with a lot of guidance or information because they aren't necessarily the experts in those fields." Fortunately, current and former Kickstarter project leaders are usually happy to help.

Kickstarter, at least in these early days, is a true community of like-minded and passionate people eager to lend a hand and share their knowledge. Leaders from successfully funded projects tend to feel personally indebted to the community, much as you would to an alma mater or a particularly inspirational teacher. It's easy to understand the affinity: Kickstarter helps make dreams a reality. As such, you'll find its alumni actively promoting other projects on Kickstarter, offering advice, and responding to requests from those looking to launch their first projects. So, don’t be shy in asking for help from those who have already walked the path you’re about to travel.

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Execution

Funding is an important milestone but it says nothing about your ability to execute upon the commitments made to supporters. Once funded, the remaining 10 percent of the project will suddenly take up 110 percent of your time. And for all their help, you can’t rely upon the Kickstarter community to complete your product's material science research or work out the final details with your manufacturer, shipper, and fulfillment center. To make matter worse, you’re likely still employed elsewhere and you’ve already promised delivery dates that suddenly feel a tad too aggressive. At this stage you'd better have a firm grasp of what you and your team can, and cannot do. Then augment your weaknesses with additional people or specialist organizations.

Like many project leaders we spoke with, Brendan Dawes is more comfortable with digital design and Arduino kits than supply chain management, so he and the Popa team brought in Danny Kane of Glasgow's Meso Design to help out. Not only did Danny produce a prototype to the exacting specs required by the Popa team, he also had the relationships needed to manufacture the metal casing and plastics (in China), and the electronics and final assembly (in Scotland). "Danny is a pro and knows what he's doing," said Brendan, leaving the team to focus on its strengths of dreaming up useful new products.

More often than not, the biggest obstacles to execution are not your known weaknesses but all of the unknowns laid bare by your relative inexperience.

"Shipping and fulfillment is really hard and costs a lot of money," cautions Tom Gerhardt, reflecting on his struggle to send Glif to the project's backers. Fulfillment, in fact, was the bugbear of nearly every project leader including Scott Wilson, who already had some experience with outbound processing but not at the scale required for his iPod nano watch bands. "We found a good company — Shipwire — that does order fulfillment, so that worked out really well." In fact, Shipwire was the company chosen by almost every project we spoke with, partly because of its aggressive pursuit of funded Kickstarter projects but also because the project leaders we spoke with are generally happy with the service.

After the success of Glif, Dan and Tom returned to Kickstarter with their more ambitious Cosmonaut project, a wide-grip stylus for capacitive touchscreens. Whereas Glif was a rather simple piece of injection molding, Cosmonaut was an altogether different beast. "Going into it, we knew 90 percent of what needed to be done," said Tom, "It was the 10 percent that we didn't know that created the surprises." Surprises that would only be revealed through the various prototypes the team had to build — each taking three to four weeks to turnaround. "We greatly underestimated the challenge of finding a material that balanced conductivity, flexibility, and low friction."

To complicate things further, the manufacturer the team used for Glif didn't have the machinery or capabilities required for Cosmonaut. Ultimately, Tom and Dan had to find an additional three manufacturers to assist with the final product, desperately trying to get their attention along the way. "We're amazed at how slow things can be, trying to get big companies to treat us with respect, to make us a priority." In the end, the delivery of Cosmonaut was delayed from June until December to the dismay of some of the project's 6,129 backers. Others, however — those who see themselves more as patrons than consumers — are happy to wait just as long they receive the uncompromised product that they backed.

The GoPano micro team suffered its own shipping delay, largely due to a defect caused by the "no lint" wipes used during assembly. "The wipes were leaving lint on the lens," said Brad Simon. A simple issue to solve in hindsight, but arduous to troubleshoot, and ultimately contributing to the decision to build some 500 testing rigs to search for imperfections. As a result, the expected ship date slipped from July until October with most backers receiving their units by November. "I think we could have kept people a little more informed as to what was going on," Brad, the archetypal salesman admits, "Maybe it was lost a little bit in the fact that we're tying to put this together and get it out the door."

"Going into it we knew 90 percent of what needed to be done, it was the 10 percent that we didn't know that created the surprises."


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Kickstarter won't make you rich but it might make you happy

Kickstarter won’t make you rich, but it might make you happy

"You should never start a company with the goal of getting rich, your goal should be making something you believe in and making a company that will last." — Steve Jobs
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With crowd-sourced funding now within easy reach to everyone, anybody with a dream can, for the first time in history, execute upon their million dollar ideas with relatively little risk for themselves or their backers. In fact, the Kickstarter community — a collection of individual backers, venture capitalists, manufacturers, suppliers, retail agents, and fulfillment centers all linked together by a common internet — has the potential to revolutionize product development by illuminating the path from concept to creation for millions of passionate individuals, casting off the shadow of obfuscation that prevents so many from realizing their dreams. A revolution bolstered by the like-minded services from IndieGoGo and Quirky and a burgeoning market for both 3D printing services and 3D printers suitable for home use — one of which was birthed right on the pages of Kickstarter, earning over $800,000 in pledges in the process.

Yet, for all of its millions, nobody we spoke with thinks that Kickstarter will make them rich. Not that anyone seems to mind.

Steve Wozniak bought the second to last $500 TikTok+Lunatik party pack. "It was really cool," said Scott Wilson, clearly enjoying the fact that the world's ultimate nerd would be wearing his watch bands. "There was no intention of getting rich. It was just a pet idea, something I believed in."

The Revolights team planned to slowly grow demand organically for its bicycle lighting system, starting with local bike shops in the San Francisco Bay Area. "We had no idea that it would be received so well internationally. That blew our minds," Jim Houk said, "Really, somebody's contacting us from The Netherlands with the world's largest per capita bicycle population, this is wild!" Composing himself, Jim offers a more sober view of the team's motivation. "All three of us are in unique situations where we all have full-time jobs and careers outside of this. So the get-rich scenario isn't the driver. It's about being part of something where we can start it from the ground up. We want to take this idea and hopefully implement it into something that can be a really important and commercially viable product that can save lives."

Similarly for Brendan Dawes, the success brought about by the Kickstarter-funded Popa shutter button has very little to do with money. "It's not going to make you rich, no," he says laughing, barely able to get the words out. The reward is much deeper. "I was with my nephews the other week," he begins solemnly, "one is six and one is nine-years old. I put it on the phone, the app fires up, and they just ran around the room taking photos. For me it was actually a bit overwhelming and emotional." Brendan pauses. "Ideas are nothing without execution and becoming real. For me, that's what Kickstarter facilitates. It's not about getting rich." Brendan begins laughing again, "there must be fucking easier ways of making money."

Brendan's reasoning is echoed almost verbatim by the Glif and Cosmonaut team. "Do it because it’s something you’re really excited about and obsessed with, something you can’t stop thinking about," urged Dan Provost, "Don’t do a Kickstarter project because you want to make money or you see it as a way to get rich. Do it because you’re excited about the thing you are making." Interrupting, Tom Gerhardt adds with a laugh, "You’re not going to get rich, that’s for sure."

While not rich in economic terms, Tom and Dan were able to quit their day jobs and start their own company — Studio Neat — after Glif. "We were fully Kickstarted," said Dan, "Kickstarter is the reason we're doing this, 100 percent."


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