Crowdfunding Web sites have led to an explosion of hardware-related companies, especially wearable startups, said speakers at Wearable World Congress here, debating the pros and cons of their impact.
Pebble, for example, shipped a million smartwatches to crowdfunders and others in 18 months. “In 2012 when we first launched on Kickstarter, investors weren’t investing in hardware. Now there’s an app store for literally everything,” Pebble CEO Eric Migicovsky said.
At the time, Pebble was Kickstarter’s best-funded campaign at $10 million. Tech products continue to make up 30% of all money pledged on the site. Crowdsourcing platforms continue to see hardware projects on the rise, specifically those targeting medical applications, and bigger players are getting in on the game.
Larger companies on the hunt for new talent, as well as venture capital firms looking to invest, have turned toward crowdfunding platforms as a means of measuring a potential investment. An investor could take the statistics from funders and read community response to determine whether a startup has a good chance of success.
Big online retailers such as Amazon will start developing close partnerships to sell products advertised in crowd-funding campaigns, said Indiegogo CEO and co-founder Slava Rubin.
The boss is often the block to innovation in large companies, Andrew Song, an Indiegogo manager, told EE Times. If a product manager can launch on a crowdfunding platform and show monetary interest, they’ll be more likely to see a product to fruition. GE, for example, launched a crowdfunding campaign for Paragon, an induction cook-top with a smart thermometer that raised over $300,000. The company will run another campaign in the late summer.
Although Intel has not announced a crowdfunding campaign, company officials recognize the importance of collaboration.
“We can reach 50 billion connected things, but I can’t imagine us doing it on our own. We’ll have to tap into other industries to make them smart,” said Intel’s Ayse Ildeniz, vice president and general manager of strategy and development for new devices. “It’s not a couple companies making decisions about what you wear, but a whole system and the people who have the building blocks to make this happen.”
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