Grand Opening Next Week
Just a heads up, next week, we won’t be releasing any Daily Geek Beat episodes. Don’t worry, you’ll still get stuff, but our Monday, Tuesday and Thursday REGULAR episodes will be held off so that we can finish the Geek House and get ready for the Grand Opening Party. I hope you’ll ALL join us for the fun at geekbeat.tv/live where we’ll start the livestream at 3pm TEXAS time (4pm Eastern) and we’ll keep it going for HOURS! We have SO much fun stuff planned, even you at home will enjoy it, I promise! And don’t forget… we’re unveiling some super secret stuff we’ve done to the building. If you’re a Monthly Patron or tagged your name on our Geek House Wall of Fame, you’re invited to see it for yourself in person.
The Power and Risks of Crowdfunding
Okay, let’s get down to business. For those of you not up to date on crowdfunding websites, Kickstarter is one of a few successful sites that allows entrepreneurs and inventors to get their ideas funded. By you! You have the power to bring products to market that YOU want. You get to vote with your dollar by chipping in a little, and as long as enough people like it and want to buy the product, you’ll get it. Several months later, after the inventor has the money to be able to actually produce and manufacture it.
John P. and I have supported many Kickstarter projects over the past couple years. And we’ve launched one ourselves. Some Kickstarter projects run into problems during the manufacturing process and actually never come to market, so you have to be careful and accept that risk when you buy.
But the ones I have for you today were both VERY successful campaigns and came to market like they promised. So let’s begin the Geekbeat Kickstarter Countdown AND look at how these five top funded products are doing now that they’re actually in the marketplace.
#5 – SmartThings Hub
SmartThings jumped in to ride the new trend of the “Internet of Things” by targeting the Smart Home. One of the biggest barriers to getting a smart home concept to be fully adopted by the masses… is the lack of seamless automation. Does it really matter how smart they are if you need 20 different apps to control 20 smart devices?? Well, the $99 SmartThings Hub deals with that by supporting both Z-Wave and ZigBee, as well as a bunch of other protocols.
Their pitch: You install SmartApps on your iPhone to interact with your SmartThings based on an open platform, an SDK and an API. They figured this system would surely attract makers of various “Smart Devices” to connect them to the Smart Things hub. Spoiler alert: they figured right! …. But I am getting ahead of myself.
In September of 2012 almost 6,000 backers pledged more than a million dollars. Their goal was only $250,000.
NOW… in 2013, SmartThings added support for Android and announced a partnership with “If This Then That” to make it even easier for those who are less technically savvy to create their own automations. The SmartThings Store is filled with all types of sensors – motion, temperature, vibration, change in orientation, moisture, and presence; products from GE, Kwikset, Aeon Labs, and other manufacturers can talk to their hub (just like they hoped). SmartThings currently ships to US and Canada and expects to expand to other countries soon. They’d better do it fast, though.
‘Cause bigger, badder competitors have home automation in their sights. Last Month both Google & Apple made big “Smart Home” Announcements. Apple has baked the HomeKit platform into iOS 8, and Google has tapped its Nest Learning Thermostat to be the brains of its “Smart Home” system.
#4 – Elevation Dock
The Elevation Dock claims to be “The Best Dock For iPhone” and supports your iPhone with its case. The heart of their claim is quick undocking from a precision machined piece of solid aluminum that stays on the table!
In February of 2012, The Elevation Dock blew past its $75,000 goal by raking in almost a million and a half dollars from more than 12,000 supporters.
Where are they now? Elevation Lab shipped over 20,000 docks for just Kickstarter backers alone.
The Elevation Dock began shipping early June 2012, just a little later than estimated April. Today, you can buy an Elevation Dock 2 for your iPhone 5/5S/5C for $89.99. They’re also working on an Elevation Stand for iMac that could be available as early as September.
#3 – 3Doodler
3Doodler, the world’s first 3D printing pen. 3Doodler draws in the air or on surfaces. Just plug it into a power socket and you can start drawing anything within minutes. As you draw, the pen produces heated ABS plastic (it’s what’s used by many 3D printers), and that quickly cools and solidifies into a strong stable structure.
In March of 2013, more than 26,000 Kickstarter members said “Shut up and take my money,” obliterating 3Doodle’s $30,000 funding goal by contributing more than two and a quarter million dollars.
Today? 3Doodler started shipping in September 2013 and they’ve expanded their distribution channels so you can buy through Amazon, Brookstone, ThinkGeek, and more. There are also competitors now like “Swiss 3D Print” and at least one Chinese knock-off. Kickstarter also recently funded a slimmer alternative to beefy 3Doodler. But, the slimmer Lix 3D pen is not expected to ship until early 2015.
3D pens are pretty cool but can be hard to master. I wonder… what is the market for them?. Are they for the “common geek” or just for seriously artsy-fartsy talented designers? Would you try it for about $100 a pop (with plastic)? Drop by the forums @ GeekBeat.TV/forums and tell me!
#2 – OUYA
The $99 OUYA video game console enticed Kickstarters with an open Android design that allowed users to create their own games with one condition… at least some gameplay must be free. You can try it before you buy it. OUYA’s vision is to make games cheaper to develop, and cheaper to buy.
In August of 2012, more than 63,000 Kickstarters embraced the concept, contributing more than eight and a half million dollars – well over OUYA’s $950,000 goal.
Where are they now? Ouya launched with more than 135 games, and there are now more than 800 free or “Freemium” games developed for its game store. OUYA also made good on its promise of a $99 console about the the size of a Rubik’s Cube made of aluminum and plastic. It comes with one game controller and you can buy additional controllers for $50 each.
That’s the good news. The bad? The build quality of early OUYA consoles got some bad press and sales volume has been disappointing. The company has pivoted to an “OUYA Everywhere” strategy of licensing its platform to OEM’s who (hopefully) will bake OUYA into TVs, set top boxes and the like. OUYA will still sell a stand-alone console for those who just want their gaming system, but they’re betting on their platform being the money maker NOT just the console (which they said was the goal all along). Basically OUYA is a promising work in progress.
Our Own Kickstarter
OK, before we get to number one on our Kickstarter countdown we want to give a shout out once again to the 367 AWESOME backers who successfully funded our own Kickstarter project, the Bad Parking Cards! We asked for $5,000 and our backers more than doubled that — which means you can now go to BadParkingCards.com and buy your very own set of original designs to help you change the world, one bad driver at a time, for $35 in the US and $55 International!
OK, back to the moment you’ve been waiting for! The number one spot in Geek Beat’s Kickstarter Countdown!
#1 – The Pebble Watch
You’ve seen John P. wearing it, so there’s no question about whether it shipped.
It’s infinitely customizable, with downloadable watch faces and useful internet-connected apps. Pebble connects to iPhone and Android smartphones using Bluetooth. It alerts you with a silent vibration to incoming calls, emails and messages.
In May of 2012, more than 68,000 Kickstarter backers stampeded past Pebble’s goal of $100,000 raising more than Ten Million dollars of start-up capital.
The company has sold more than 400,000 Pebble smartwatches since January 2013. And you can now find them at Best Buy and Amazon for $150. There are now over 1,000 Pebble apps available, with 12,000 registered developers – and the company is expected to double its revenue this year. But, with Google recently rolling out Android Wear, and Apple rumored to be planning a rollout of iOS wearables around October, Pebble will be fighting for market share in 2015. May the best product win!
If you’ve bought any of the products featured on GeekBeat’s Kickstarter Countdown (or anything else on Kickstarter) let me know how you liked them with a note in our forums @ GeekBeat.TV/forums.
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