funding

In the last 2-3 years I’ve explored backing new products, something that isn’t exactly common at the moment, but is becoming much more common, especially in the online world.

It’s what the “users” of sites like KickStarter, Patreon, Indiegogo, DonorsChoose [charity concept] do when they throw their support behind something, they back it in some way, a pledge, a purchase, etc. etc, most typically involving giving money immediately for something later.

I love the concept in how it enables a global internet enabled economy and it encourages creation. I’ve also toyed with the idea if I ever needed to raise capital to launch a business concept through IT Arsenal.

The concept of giving money to an idea before it’s in production, in hopes that the idea will come to fruition and you’ll be one of the first to experience it/reap some sort of benefit from it has typically only been available to big investors, but like many things, this concept is being disrupted and replaced.

Here’s five products I’ve backed, and my experience with them.

Coin – backed early 2014 – long wait, fizzled out

Ordered on KickStarter, chip readers are now everywhere but wireless payments aren’t really mainstream, making this “all your credit/finance cards in one card” frustratingly useless after so long a wait due to the fact that if I use a card that has a chip in a reader without wireless, I’m screwed, because Coin doesn’t have a chip. This is how they frame that problem, the market sort of evolved on them in a problematic way, something that can happen when investing in early adoption technology. Also Coin was recently acquired by Fitbit which is interesting.

Zolt – backed early 2015 – long wait, awesome product

Pre-ordered on their site, it came when expected and is awesome. It’s a compact charger capable of charging my Macbook Pro and 2 USB devices at the same time. Excellent for travel, good investment, most people ask where I got it when they see it.

Lockitron – backed mid 2014 long wait, still waiting

Pre-ordered on their site, it’s gone through several iterations. It’s a smart wifi connected deadbolt lock. I sort of feel like they will never deliver, and at this point, I’ve been frustrated enough by the wait that I feel my money could have been better used elsewhere. Hopefully it’s still useful and will fit my home by the time I receive it.

Pistol Lake – backed early 2016 responsive, regular updates, one of two products sent

Recommended by Noah Kagan, ordered on KickStarter. It’s a clothing line. I admit this was somewhat of an impulse buy, I needed shorts, these looked like they had a cool story, and supporting them on KickStarter meant a shirt too, so the price didn’t seem THAT bad. I got the shirt rather quick and it’s great quality, still waiting on my shorts. I got asked almost every time I wore the shirt where the lake was, so, it’s in Maine, it’s a lake where the owner and his brother used to play. The purchase here also proved that these backer type sites can be influenced like traditional models typically can’t, like providing an avenue for friends to easily support you, or social media to sway success.

DonorsChoose

So this isn’t a product, but the concept is similar. Teachers all over can post a project to be funded, and when it is, the donor is typically rewarded with special thanks or recognition, and really just by doing something awesome. I’ve had friends who are teachers use this recently, and have enjoyed giving here myself in the past. Enables teachers to do much more in the classroom for education, and it’s build on the “backing” mindset.

There you have it, have you backed any products? What are your thoughts?

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