Meet the world’s fastest hot tub and Furby’s slightly less evil cousin, among others.
Kickstarter and Indiegogo are home to some awesome new products, and many more strange ones. After taking a deep dive into this month’s crowdfunding campaigns, we were left incredulous at the sight of some of these projects—for reasons good and bad. Some of these are incredibly well executed by really smart people; others are scams that would make Bernie Madoff blush. The main qualifier: a certain amount of head-scratching perplexity.
“I think Aaron’s story is compelling for lots of different reasons. My previous film We Are Legion followed hackers and activists, so I was following Aaron’s story right from when he was arrested. He was so deeply engaged in so many issues that are really relevant about information, our relationship with information, the way the Internet is changing, and the freedoms of the Internet. And then I was struck by how much his story resonated with people far beyond the communities in which he was a celebrity—people that didn’t even know him.”
—Brian Knappenberger, director of The Internet’s Own Boy, on Aaron Swartz. Read the rest of the Q&A and watch the new trailer, over here.
Young girls interested in working on machines have few fictional role models, and even fewer hands on experiences that are geared specifically toward them. This new Kickstarter project hopes to change that with its exciting new characters and tie-in engineering projects.
Her new album, “Theatre Is Evil,” is the most successful music-based Kickstarter project to date. But is Amanda Palmer’s tweet-happy, DIY, often NSFW approach a model for independent artists?
We’re down to the final minutes of the singer-songwriter-provocateur’s month-long Kickstarter campaign, a crowdfunding effort that shocked the entertainment world by becoming the site’s most successful music-based project to date. The pledges—which had an official target of $100,000, and which had privately been budgeted to hit $500,000—have already topped a million dollars.
To celebrate the countdown, Palmer, who the Huffington Post called “the social media queen of rock & roll,” is throwing a six-hour, block party-style celebration in a parking lot behind some warehouses along Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal. To a surprisingly “classic pop” soundtrack (the Jackson 5, the Who, Ray Charles), she and her crew dressed up in old-time bathing suits and frolicked in an aquarium-style clear box on the back of a truck, scribbling the names of everyone who contributed on pages ripped out of phone books and holding each one up to the laptop that’s webcasting the event. In the end, it will be almost 25,000 names, each of whom pledged between $1 and $10,000 for a menu of products and experiences ranging from a download of her new album, Theatre is Evil, (out Tuesday, Sept. 11) to art books and customized turntables, up to private concerts and dinners with the artist.
When faced with the reality of these products, disappointment is inevitable—not just because they’re too little too late (if at all) but for even weirder reasons. We don’t really want the stuff. We’re paying for the sensation of a hypothetical idea, not the experience of a realized product. For the pleasure of desiring it. For the experience of watching it succeed beyond expectations or to fail dramatically. Kickstarter is just another form of entertainment. It’s QVC for the Net set. And just like QVC, the products are usually less appealing than the excitement of learning about them for the first time and getting in early on the sale.
On the surface, Rock the Post follows the same reward-based formula as Kickstarter: entrepreneurs post ideas, fans offer support, and if the pitch is successful, prizes are handed out (and the platform takes a cut). But Rock the Post’s emphasis is on helping small businesses facilitate connections not only to funding, but also programmers, designers, and anyone else who can help get their idea off the ground. “At the early stage of a business, the most important thing is not the product,” says Cremades. “It’s the people behind it, and how they’re going to face challenges.”
"We want playing our games to entertain people on many different levels. Deeper down, I want to make a connection with the player, and it’s the way, to me, of saying to the person playing the game that they’re not alone in the world."
This behind-the-scenes interview with the brutal legend of video game design proves that listening to your customers can pay off in unexpected ways.
It’s a clip-on iPad keyboard with a milled aluminum chassis and integrated speaker that ostensibly converts the iPad into a MacBook. Other products like this exist, but Brydge is a bit more minimal than the others, and doesn’t fall into the trap of trying to make the iPad look exactly like a Macbook Air.
"We read a hell of a lot of Kickstarter posts—I pretty much watched every single stupid video on that website," he says. One lesson learned: Unless you’d invest in the product yourself, it won’t get attention. "We really wanted to find an example of a good product that had bad reception on Kickstarter, but we couldn’t find one," Migicovsky says.
The most interesting and exciting part of the show is the relationship that I have with the audience. So in thinking about doing this again, that was certainly the first place that I looked. And thinking about, “Well, if I’m gonna do this, it’d be nice to get a little bit of a gauge of if they’re interested and whether they’re willing to support the effort.” The Kickstarter video was a little bit of a test in that way, saying that it was going to be different than the original. And it was just an amazing thing. I set kind of an arbitrary goal of $50,000 and we hit that in, I think, eight hours. And it ended up a little shy of $150,000. I ended up using Kickstarter as a background to actually start brainstorming about the show itself and reconnecting with folks who were interested in helping. I actually wound up meeting an animator through that experience; he’s now animating user dreams for a segment.
In the dark hours last night, the Pebble project broke the previous Kickstarter funding record of $3.3 million. And still the backers arrive. The project has 31 days left to run, and at the time of writing it has $3,428,933 in funds and nearly 24,000 backers.