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Ottawa startup enlists crowdfunding to bring product to market

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Ottawa Citizen by Vito Pilieci | August 21, 2013

blacksumac president 300x205 - Ottawa startup enlists crowdfunding to bring product to market

Blacksumac president Russell Ure has enlisted Indiegogo in a bid to pre-sell $100,000 U.S. worth of the company’s Piper home security monitors and kick-startt full-scale production.
Photograph by: Chris Mikula , The Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA — An Ottawa startup is hoping a successful Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign will speed commercial production of its Piper home security monitors.

Piper plugs into a wall socket in a home, office or apartment, then connects to a Wi-Fi network and beams live high-definition video of that space to an application the Piper user runs on a cellphone. Users can see what’s going on at home, speak through a live, two-way microphone and speaker built into the unit, activate a high-pitched alarm, and even tie into an existing home automation system. That would allow Piper users to adjust a thermostat or dim lighting remotely.

“Combining security, high quality video, and home automation just makes sense,” said Russell Ure, president of Blacksumac, founded in 2012 and now employing eight people. “You can’t get real peace of mind without actually seeing what’s happening at home, and the possibilities for making your home more secure and interactive really open up when you add automation into the equation”.

The company’s Indiegogo campaign launched early Wednesday morning. Blacksumac is targeting $100,000 U.S. in pre-orders for Piper over the next 30 days. Within its first three hours, the campaign had already attracted 23 backers who had paid a total of $4,069 U.S. toward the company’s goal.

Indiegogo is one of a handful of online services, the most notable being Kickstarter, that have popped up to help small companies “crowd-fund” their projects.

In the past, startups would look for venture capitalists to invest money so they could start commercial production of their products. Those investments would be secured by equity in the startup.

Crowdfunding allows startups to skip past the large venture capitalists and avoid having to give up any ownership of their business. It also allows the firms to secure early sales of a product or service while at the same time pushing those offerings through to full-scale commercial production.

Indiegogo works on a “campaign” system; Blacksumac doesn’t collect any of the funds it attracts until it meets or exceeds its $100,000 U.S. funding goal.

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