By Scott Sutherland
Our client Pebble, a company that is creating an e-paper smartwatch, is full of great stories. The company now holds the record for largest funding pooled on crowdfunding websiteKickstarter. The perseverance of founder and CEO Eric Migicovsky in the face of rejection from VCs is a classic tale of never giving up, and trying new avenues when traditional doors have closed.
Even more interesting than the amazing crowdfunding numbers – $6 million from more than 45,000 backers in the first two weeks – is the opportunity unveiled by the attention and support of future customers. Aside from the money, Kickstarter has enabled Pebble to do an amazing thing: assemble a community of highly engaged evangelists before they’ve shipped one product. This feat alone is quite amazing considering it can take months or years for most brands to achieve this kind of attuned following.
The community of evangelists is important for Pebble because like the iPhone and Android, the smartwatch is more valuable when more developers create customized apps for it. Without this proven crowd of evangelists on Kickstarter, it would’ve been much more difficult to get developers interested. The backers on Kickstarter will now form the community that builds the apps for Pebble or requests apps to be built. In addition, Pebble has created a special offer for developers who back them on Kickstarter: early access to the SDK and a prototype watch delivered in August.
Crowdfunding not only supplied Pebble with the funds to get off the ground and ship the first round of smartwatches this fall, it also created an immediate sounding board for collecting ideas, feedback and soon actual apps that will run on the watches. It helped demonstrate real demand where traditional investors were not willing to risk money to find out whether that demand really existed. In many ways, the community is even more valuable than the investment funds.
45,000 people can’t be wrong.
To read more about Pebble, visit Pebble’s project page on Kickstarter.
Also, check out some of the coverage so far:
- Pebble Watch for iPhone and Android, The Most Successful Kickstarter Project Ever (Forbes)
- Pebble Watch Touts ePaper Screen, Bluetooth Apps and High Demand (Time)
- Forget the money, Kickstarter turns Pebble into a platform (GigaOm)
- Pebble Smart Watch Raises Over $3M on Kickstarter After Asking for only $100K (TechCrunch)