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Kickstarter at 15: The legacy of the crowding launchpad

22 May 2024
Pocuter One is a small Arduino compatible board that includes a full-color OLED, WiFi, Bluetooth and a micro-SD card slot for substantial storage. Source: Kickstarter

Kickstarter, which recently celebrated its 15th anniversary, remains a trusted launchpad for artists, hobbyists, inventors and entrepreneurs. With over 626,000 funded projects, the crowdfunding community continues to thrive, driven by a desire to bring new and experimental ideas to life.

From its first project that raised $35 for an illustration idea to facilitating $8 billion in pledges from 23 million backers, Kickstarter has demonstrated how communities can join together to fund projects they believe in. It has enabled the creation of Grammy-winning songs, Oscar-winning films, 60 Guinness World Records, a thriving universe of indie games and comics, and products that have become household names like Brooklinen, Peloton and Allbirds.

Origins The seed of an idea

Kickstarter emerged from Perry Chen’s unfulfilled desire to hold a concert in New Orleans. Along with Yancey Strickler and Charles Adler, they envisioned a web tool that would enable fundraising with no personal risk. They saw it as the democratization of technology to support any idea left on the margins of traditionally financed cultural thought. Referring to it as the people’s National Endowment for the Arts, Kickstarter is now a framework for inspiring thinkers to put their ideas into action, giving them a chance to independently present their innovations to the marketplace on their own terms.

As both a business and a facilitator of culture, Kickstarter recognizes the power of community, collaboration and feedback. It gives creators a seat at the table and connects thinkers in ways that amplify their voices. For those who see invention as a daunting task, Kickstarter provides a way to alleviate some of the pressure.

Benefits for them include:

  • Community access: A global network of backers eager to support and promote innovative ideas.
  • Crowdfunding expertise: Resources and best practices to keep projects on track.
  • Visibility boost: Increases exposure for both newbies and seasoned creators, helping turn visions into tangible products.

Case studies

There is significant proof that Kickstarter can work in all aspects of life. It has become known as an exceptional way to bridge market gaps where unique solutions are needed to address real problems. Select campaigns demonstrate Kickstarter's ongoing influence.

AKITA Instant Privacy for smart homes

One of the most funded Kickstarter projects to date is the AKITA Instant Privacy project that introduced an AI Zero Trust cyber platform to protect against cyber threats in diverse settings such as corporate offices, home networks and public spaces. At the heart of the platform is its zero-trust architecture that adheres to the principle that no entity on the network is trusted by default.

The model emphasizes continuous verification, requiring identity validation and policy-based evaluation for each access attempt, a significant difference from traditional VPN security that depends on physical location to grant access. This framework offers quick adaptation to evolving threats, scalability and proactive security measures across different network types and devices.

The AKITA Instant Privacy device is one of the most successful campaigns in Kickstarter history. Source: Kickstarter The AKITA Instant Privacy device is one of the most successful campaigns in Kickstarter history. Source: Kickstarter

P-51 automatic watch

The P-51 watch, crafted from recycled 1960s Ford Mustangs, blends radical design with high-quality components. Achieving substantial funding from 553 backers who pledged $500,000, the watch surpassed its initial goal while embodying the spirit of innovation and sustainability. Each unique and distinct watch is powered by a Japanese Miyota caliber 9130 automatic movement, features a sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating, and includes a handcrafted dial made from salvaged Mustangs.

Pocuter One

The Pocuter One, one of Kickstarter's most funded devices, is a coin-sized, Arduino-compatible microcomputer that leverages the potential of modern microcomputing. It features a full-color OLED, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth,and a micro-SD card slot for substantial storage, along with sensors like an accelerometer, temperature and light sensors. Running on Pocuter OS, it supports direct application loading and updates via a micro-SD card, acting like a mini hard disk. The addition of an app store broadens its utility for all kinds of DIY projects, from mobile computing to environmental monitoring and voice-activated functions.

Eufy Pro Floor Washing Robot

The Eufy Pro Washing Robot, a self-cleaning floor washer, revolutionizes household cleaning with features tailored for modern living spaces. It integrates a Zero Trust AI cyber platform to protect against cyber threats in office settings, home networks or public areas. The unit self-empties for up to 68 days and has a powerful 8,000 Pa suction capability. It boasts the ability to efficiently tackle high levels of pet hair and debris, promising clean carpets and floors in one pass. With precision navigation 750 times more accurate than standard robotic vacuums, the Eufy Pro successfully raised $3.3 million from over 3,000 backers.

MiMi Micro Mirrorless Yashica I’m Back

The MiMi Micro Mirrorless Camera, developed in collaboration between Yashica and I'm Back, advanced mobile photography by blending traditional camera quality with modern portability. With a solid backing of $549,349 from 1,575 supporters, the camera vastly exceeded its initial funding goal of $10,952, demonstrating how unique the market believes a compact camera that can overcome the shortcomings of smartphone photography in telephoto situations really is.

The camera features a lightweight 100-gram body that is compatible with C-mount lenses, Wi-Fi control, and a complimentary app, perfect for dynamic, on-the-go photography. Delivering professional-quality images through a versatile lens system that includes wide, standard and telephoto manual focus lenses. It includes a foldable display, external microphone input and USB Type-C and HDMI outputs to facilitate easy media transfers. The MiMi is travel-friendly, packed with professional-grade features for documenting life's moments without the bulk of traditional DSLRs.

Nuwa Pen AI-powered Ballpoint Pen

The Nuwa Pen is a breakthrough for those who value the tactile sensation of writing on paper but who also need the organization and accessibility offered by digital tools. Suitable for busy professionals, students and anyone who multitasks, this smart pen seamlessly converts handwritten notes on anything from sticky notes to butcher paper into digital format. Launched at CES 2023, the Nuwa Pen attracted considerable attention, with 743 backers pledging $200,000 to support its development. Users get the power of two hours of continuous writing with a 15-minute recharge time. The pen uses regular ink cartridges, allowing for natural, precise strokes. Furthermore, it integrates with over 100 apps and platforms, enabling features like easy save, searchability and sharing across devices. Set for delivery in 2024, the Nuwa pen is poised to revolutionize personal note-taking and creative processes.

Conclusion

As Kickstarter continues to foster a vibrant community of innovation and creativity, its impact extends beyond individual projects. Kickstarter reshapes how ideas are shared and developed, contributing to a culture that values creative freedom and collaboration. The platform not only supports the transformation of concepts into real-world solutions but also inspires a future where anyone can innovate from anywhere in the world. With each funded project, Kickstarter reinforces its role as a catalyst for creative and entrepreneurial success, highlighting the profound influence of community-supported development.

About the author

Emily Main holds a J.D. in Compliance Law and a BS in Telecommunications. With extensive experience in the intersection of technology and law, Main has contributed to numerous publications and conferences, exploring technical challenges, innovations, trends and applications. Passionate about communication and networking, she is dedicated to sharing the latest advances in the field with a professional engineering audience through engaging and informative articles.

To contact the author of this article, email GlobalSpecEditors@globalspec.com


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