Hot or Not? Let the Crowd Decide




In a recent post we looked at crowdfunding and why it might be a logical (or maybe illogical) path for engineers and product designers to take to get their dream project funded and built. 

Though the crowdfunding space is littered with failed projects (and sometimes really, really bad ideas that should have stayed in the garage), there have been many successes. Kickstarter alone says its users have funded more than 100,000 projects to date. Indigogo is estimated to have a 34% success rate.

What do the winners have in common? According to Fundable, successful campaigns:

  • Ask for around $7,000.
  • Last about 9 weeks.
  • Pick up 30% of their funding goal within the first week.

“Crowdfunding sites are helping scientists and inventors fund projects that might not otherwise see the light of day,” writes IEEE’s Insight publication. “In the process, they want to help turn scientists into rock stars….”

So, are you an engineering rock star? Have an idea you think people will love? For inspiration, here are a few products that started with a dream, got funded, and flourished, thanks to, well, crowds.

Image: By FXR from Paris, France - Cut Copy (Fans), CC BY 2.0

The Oregon Pint

Goal: $15,000

Raised: $500,000

Rock star status: Customized 747 tour plane (stocked with Oregon beer, naturally)

North Drinkware started out with its founders enjoying local beers. During the conversation, they hatched the idea of making a product that connects to the local beer scene – and Oregon’s many mountains. Leveraging 3D data of Mount Hood, and using Creo, the company produced a pint glass unlike any other. The result? Watch the video below or go here.

 

EO1

Goal: $25,000

Raised: More than $700,000

Rock star status: Lifetime admission into MoMA

The Internet of Things and art meet head on with the EO1. Electric Objects’ product is a sleek, internet-connected, high-definition screen with powerful graphics processing that displays images, animations, video, and generative art. Creators turned to Creo for the product design and to drive more value and productivity into the design process (a key component to any project, crowdfunded or not). If you missed all the press this received, here’s the original video that appeared on Kickstarter:

 

The Incredible HLQ quadcopter

Goal: $7,500

Raised: $11,500

Rockstar status: Lifetime supply of Marvel comic books (and back issues)
Nick Conover and three fellow students at San Jose State University pitched an idea on Kickstarter – and got it fully funded. Their Incredible HLQ (pronounced Hulk) is an autonomous gasoline-powered four-rotor helicopter that can carry an unprecedented payload of 50 pounds. The team used Creo Parametric for the 3D CAD work and Creo Simulate to ensure their quadcopter would fly. They’re still going at it – follow their journey on Facebook.

 See the Incredible HLQ in action – complete with jazzy soundtrack: 

 

Winner vs. non-winners

For all of the successes of crowdfunding, there are, alas, failures. It’s hard to pinpoint what went wrong, why a product didn’t resonate, or why no one gave one cent.

 Believe it or not, there is a silver lining. Getting rejected on crowdfunding sites is like your own private focus group. If no one bites, take it as an opportunity to tweak and change what you’re doing. For example, failed ideas that never saw the light of day include baby drones (whaaat?), hovering smartphones (um, okay), and an anti-gravity device (no words).

 Why these flopped but others succeeded is something we’ll look at in a later post.

 [Ed. It takes imagination to design and engineer a product from scratch. Creo is there to turn that idea into a prototype – and eventually a viable product. Read how others have used Creo to go from the desk to store shelves.]