Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Kickstarter Comes Into Its Own

This week, GreenGoose, a young company backed with $500,000 by angel investors last year, set out to raise some more money. But GreenGoose didn’t go to venture capitalists for its next round — it went to Kickstarter.

GreenGoose makes fun sensor technologies, and its first product — a kit for measuring when you walk, feed and play with your dog — starts shipping, after various delays, next week.

For its next product, the “Brush Monkey” Internet-enabled toothbrush, GreenGoose posted a campaign to raise $18,000 on Kickstarter.

This is more of a play for the DIY lovers in the Kickstarter community than anything else, said GreenGoose founder Brian Krejcarek. He wrote in an email,

We’ve raised some angel funding, but we’re still in this early-stage mode of figuring things out and trying to bring a dream to reality. We wanted to open it up to a DIY community with an API, that’s already out there for developers.  If we can get other folks using a toothbrush or some of these other sensors in their applications, that helps us bring it into real production to get the cost down so we can make it available to lots of people.

Obviously, making physical products takes real money — but it’s possible Kickstarter is a better home for the DIY kinds of things GreenGoose is trying to do, especially in the early days. Another sensors-for-everyday-life project, Twine, raised $556,541 last year, after setting out to raise $35,000. Its Kickstarter campaign got coverage from many tech outlets, and generated tons of community recognition and goodwill.

Kickstarter on "Portlandia"

But Kickstarter campaigns aren’t just about the viral goodwill anymore. Kickstarter backed 10 percent of the films at Sundance this year. The site is becoming a serious source of funding and marketing for both start-ups and established companies.

In fact, Kickstarter recently started generating upward of $1 million per project. By “recently,” I mean “yesterday” — which was the first time a project got more than $1 million, and two projects did it in the same day.

The first was the Elevation Dock for the iPhone, which was posted by Elevation Lab of Portland on Kickstarter in December, and was a couple days away from its funding deadline.

The funding deadline is basically just a preorder deadline at this point, though. Kickstarter only makes backers pay up if a project’s goal is reached, but the dock received commitments for its goal of $75,000 in funding in just eight hours on Dec. 14. At last count, it had 1,124,440, from 10,275 backers.

Then, five hours later, another Kickstarter project got $1 million in funding — just a day after it was posted.

Double Fine Productions, a well-known studio that makes games for the Xbox and other platforms, turned to Kickstarter on Wednesday to raise $400,000 to create a new game and document it for Kickstarter backers. That goal was quickly met, and then some.

The Double Fine Adventure campaign now has $1,267,843, from 34,376 backers.

Double Fine didn’t come out of nowhere — its first hit was “Psychonauts” in 2005 — but that’s the point. The company’s Kickstarter pitch posed the project as a goal to see if crowdfunding can take it to the next level: Funding a major game release that usually requires publishers, investment firms and loans.

It appears the answer is yes. Or, as Double Fine put it “WoooooooooOOOOoooOoOoooOOooo!” The studio said it would put the extra money into things like translations and an original soundtrack for the documentary about the making of the game.

Last night, the New York City-based Kickstarter team quite understandably threw a party rather than updating its most-funded project page.

Hopefully the team’s hangovers will be in remission by tonight, when Kickstarter reaches another all-too-perfect milestone: Being the subject of a skit on “Portlandia” on IFC. Here’s a preview:


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work