A coming of age for Kickstarter
When Eric Migicovsky, an engineer, wanted to develop a line of wristwatches that could display information from an iPhone — like caller ID and text messages — he went the traditional route of asking venture capitalists to finance his company.
But he couldn’t even get a foot in the door, let alone secure any money for what he called the Pebble watch.
So he turned to Kickstarter, a site where ordinary people back creative projects. Backers could pledge $99 and were promised a Pebble watch in return.
Less than two hours after the project went up on the site, Mr. Migicovsky and his partners hit their goal of $100,000.
“By that night, we were at $600,000,” said Mr. Migicovsky, who is 25 and a recent engineering graduate of the University of Waterloo. “We went out for a beer to celebrate, went home and slept, and when we woke up, we were at a million dollars.”
As of Friday afternoon, nearly 50,000 people had pledged close to $7 million — and there is still two weeks left before the fund-raising window closes. (As of Sunday afternoon, the total had passed $7 million.)
Pebble is the latest — and by far the largest — example of how Kickstarter, a scrappy start-up sprouted in the New York living room of its founders three years ago, is transforming the way people build businesses.
Although the site first began as a way for people to raise money for quirky projects like pop-up wedding chapels, around-the-world boating trips and offbeat documentaries, it quickly expanded to include video game production, feature films and innovative new gadgets, like the Elevation dock, a sleek stand for the iPhone, or Brydge, which turns an iPad into a laptop resembling the MacBook Air.
The large amount of money that Pebble has raised — equivalent to what a young company would get in a second round of venture capital financing — also signifies a coming of age for Kickstarter.
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