24 March 2014

Crowdfunding takes off for some businesses

Crowdfunding has been highly successful for some entrepreneurs, with websites like Kickstarter leading the pack. The basic project puts together a concept, some pictures of the work in progress, and asks for backers to fund the product. The entrepreneur can be anywhere in the world, and the backers can come from anywhere in the world as well.

Funding is typically requested through an escalating tier of pledges, with larger backing eligible for a product with more features. The whole process can be gamified with stretch goals, with growing backing for the project 'unlocking' a new reward for everyone at selected milestones. 

While anyone can try crowdfunding, the Internet recognises those who have clearly put a lot of effort into their proposals. The more intriguing the story, the slicker the packaging and the more sophisticated the pledging plans, the more likely it is to be successful. It also helps to have something tangible which can be mailed to the backers; crowdfunding for a service is less likely to be successful, especially one that is tied to geographic location like a mobile food truck.

Most projects on Kickstarter are US-based but there are some from the Asia Pacific. Zelos Helmsman, a watch that can be made of bronze or stainless steel, is the most successful active Singapore-related project on Kickstarter at the moment, with Yahoo Singapore reporting that the project was fully funded within two days of its launch on Kickstarter. The Helmsman is over 200% subscribed at the time of writing.

CDN$1 gets name recognition on the website, and CDN$420 a Helmsman watch. "We wanted to create the Helmsman to be a modern sports watch, functional yet sleek enough to take with to the office. Its automatic movement powers the watch by your kinetic energy so no batteries will ever be needed... Each variant of the Helmsman will be limited to only 50 pieces and will be individually numbered," states Zelos Watches on the Kickstarter project page. 

Pawda, a GPS-based tracking system that works with iOS and Android mobile phones, is a project from Sydney, Australia. According to maker Ross Lambert on the Kickstarter project page, Pawda is a small lightweight GPS tracking device which fastens securely to a pet's collar. Once the pet leaves a virtual perimeter or 'safe zone', the Pawda user receives an alert on the Pawda smartphone app. A map shows exactly where the pet is. The device can track the pet using the same network as your mobile phone, in real time, in the same way that Google Maps adjusts your location as you move.

While the device is marketed for pets, it could just as well be fastened to a toddler's backpack, or to a suitcase full of money; it's up to the imagination. 

A pledge of A$45 gets a Pawda t-shirt, and A$99 the device itself. View the associated video here.

*All images from the Kickstarter website.

*All percentages correct at the time of writing.