Christopher Charlesworth, CEO and Co-founder of HiveWire, Joins National Crowdfunding Association of Canada’s Advisory Board
March 24th, 2017
GigaOM by Ross Rubin | January 31, 2015
Crowdfunding has helped to bring us some of the most avant garde devices of the past few years. Some, such as the Oculus Rift, Pebble smartwatch and Hidden Radio, have helped to jumpstart whole new categories. And more categories may be pioneered by products such as the Narrative Clip (formerly Memoto), Dash smart headphones, Melon brain-training headband, Ubi home intelligent agent, Romo smartphone-driven robot, Canary security system, and Galileo remote conferencing accessory.
But this method of bringing products to market has been fraught with challenges. Not surprisingly for those who have navigated the rough waters of device development, many products listed above — such as the Pebble, Clip, Ubi and Galileo — missed their estimated original shipping windows. Indeed, many high-profile crowdfunded tech gadgets — such as the AGENT smartwatch (over a million dollars raised in June 2013), the ultra-thin CST-01 e-paper watch (over a million dollars raised in February 2013), and the Jorno folding keyboard (over $100,000 raised in October 2012), have still not shipped (although its otherwise non-communicative inventor last updated the shipping date to March 2015). Delays such as those of the Jorno have been so profound that what once seemed like an innovative product has been overtaken by crowdfunded competitors and radical new designs.
The Kickstarter manifesto that it is not a store has led to a number of companies seeking to offer more assurance to those who preorder devices. Christie Street, an early effort by Ring inventor Jamie Siminoff, has been dormant since failing to achieve critical mass. Crowd Supply, which sells products after they’ve been funded, has has a number of wins related to open source projects such as the chunky Novena laptop. Prelaunch.com seeks to capitalize on the buzz crowdfunding generates, but with more established companies. More recently, Crowded Rocket launched with a handful of cool tech products and the support of a number of online personalities with large followings, including Robert Scoble.
But these companies have all been startups, and have struggled to compete with the large traffic flow and audiences of Kickstarter and Indiegogo. What if, though, a company that was a store stepped in at the intersection of crowdfunding and product development and that company was unabashedly a store? Amazon.com, which has long been the primary payments provider used by Kickstarter, would be well-equipped to be that company.
Amazon may be finally waking up its potential as a leading source for crowdfunded or products that are offered for preorder while in development. As reported by Hacked.com, the company has a job listing for a senior manager of product management to “build the world’s best end-to-end platform for startups.” The company seeks those “inspired by inventors who develop and launch new products” and “see the opportunity to connect these entrepreneurs with Amazon’s hundreds of millions of customers.”