Kickstarter becomes a Public Benefit Corporation

For a long time, Kickstarter’s founders expressed that they had no interest in selling the company and that they wanted Kickstarter to be a public trust somewhat like Craigslist (but without the religious aversion to graphics in the site interface). While Craigslist keeps its finances notoriously close to its vest, though, Kickstarter has been quite transparent about its metrics.

Now Kickstarter has codified its public interest by becoming a Public Benefit Corporation. In a nutshell, that means the company must consider its public good alongside of and sometimes ahead of maximizing profit. This includes measures such as charity, transparency, avoiding tax loopholes and running an ecologically conscious company — a better defined set of obligations than Google’s famous “Don’t be evil.” unofficial motto. One aspect of the new structure that will directly benefit backers is

Kickstarter no doubt has good intentions and has been a great resource for creators, but it — like Indiegogo — has had its feet held to the fire for projects that have not come to fruition and the steps it has taken or avoided to try and resolve such costly disappointments for consumers.  For now, the FTC has started going after the creators themselves when fraud is suspected. But Indiegogo has recently experimented with insurance that backers can buy to protect themselves against projects failing. Hopefully, Kickstarter’s company’s stepping up its commitment to do good will inspire it to find better ways to protect consumers.


Hasbro, Indiegogo team for game design contest

Companies such as Quirky and Edison Nation have shown that big-name brands are happy to tap into great ideas that come from the crowd. Now Indiegogo, which has run a number of partnership programs, has teamed up with toy giant Hasbro for a game design contest.

Participants fill out a form on the Hasbro site that provides information about the team and the game. Ideas will be judged on several criteria, including gameplay, story/theme, viability and “potential for fun-ness.” The winning individual or team will get $10,000 and a trip out to Hasbro HQ to meet with game designers. Once five finalists are selected, they’ll have the option to crowdfund their products on Indiegogo with Hasbro providing publicity support. However, the game designers are responsible for fulfilling their own rewards.

Game designers who think they’ve got a Clue in putting in the hard-Scrabble effort of creating the next game Monopoly will have to enter their submissions by September 30th with the winner announced on December 3rd, two days after the Indiegogo campaigns close.


Backerjack Podcast #16: Cyclops Cameras, Talking Trash, and Smart Homes vs. Smartphones

In sweet Episode 16 of the Backerjack Podcast, Steven Sande and Ross Rubin check out some of the latest products seeking funds and preorders:

  • Flex Cam PIC, a whimsical and inexpensive still and video camera that wraps around objects and comes in a range of colors and silly characters. It has some similarities to Podo.
  • GeniCan, a clip-on to your garbage can or recycle bin that builds your shopping list by scanning the barcodes of products you’ve consumed. As we note, it has the same goals as SmartQsine.
  • Oomi, a comprehensive and tightly integrated Z-Wave-based home control system that features easy setup. It rivals another recent ambitious smart home project, Paigo.

New wearables innovation report now available

It’s no surprise that the record for most-funded Kickstarter project was set — twice — by Pebble, a pioneer in smartwatches. After all, wearables require a level of imagination, attention to personal style and leading-edge tech that have been the hallmark of crowdfunded projects.

Part of the Product Innovation Pipeline Report series produced by Reticle Research, the latest Wearables report includes complete campaign data and profiles for all wearables featured on Backerjack in the fourth quarter of 2014. Those 45 curated projects, which include smartwatches, child locators, video glasses, pet finders, and stress management products, are essential to understanding innovation happening in the red-hot field of wearables.

Cycling Personal Transportation

Affordable Storm roars onto the electric bike scene

Electric bikes come in many flavors, offering a wide variety of options for anyone looking to shorten their commute, save some energy, or simply enjoy the thrill. Unfortunately, their one commonality is their pumped up price, something no one can get excited about.

Touted as the world’s most affordable electric bicycle, the Storm E-Bike‘s $1,299 price point does undercut many similarly performing e-bikes, and does so while outperforming them, too. The Storm boasts a 350W geared drive motor capable of reaching a top speed of 20MPH, and a lithium-ion battery capable of being recharged in just 90 minutes and offering anywhere from 25-50 miles on a single charge. This combination is a powerful one, offering riders a zippy ride augmented with all-terrain tires and a water resistant frame so that nowhere is off-limits. The $75,000 campaign is offering the Storm for just $599, which is 53% off the retail price. It’s expected to ship in May of this year.

Glaring negatives include its hefty weight (anywhere from 45-55lbs) and lack of regenerative braking, a small addition that would have made a world of difference. All in all, the Storm E-Bike is looking to truly storm the scene. At its price point, it should appeal to everyone from commuters to outdoor enthusiasts who love a motor-assisted ride.


Powerknots keeps an arsenal of backup batteries ready for your powerless friends

20140819083204-imageSmartphones have dramatically increased in versatility over the past 10 years, but that tends to keep battery life a constant struggle. Many people have long cursed the their weak capacities, leading TechSquare to create PowerKnots. Their design holds massive power: each bite-sized block has a capacity of 5200mAh and each station can charge up to eight, allowing a user to have up to 41,600mAh of power at their disposal. A smartphone user (or anyone else wanting to charge something) with PowerKnots is guaranteed to not stare at a dead phone for a very long time. While it’s probably overkill for most folks, it might make sense for those signing up for the smartphone family plan. You can get started in December 2014 with a four-pack and charging station for $70 among other more expansive options.