Venture capitalists, shmenture capitalists.
That is not what Eric Migicovsky said to himself when he went out to get funding for a new smartwatch he and his team developed called Pebble.
Migicovsky, who had some critical success with a Blackberry-compatible smartwatch called the inPulse, was hoping to fund his next venture the traditional Silicon Valley way -- through angels and venture capitalists.
The new smartwatch would be compatible with the Android and iPhone, linking to the smartphone via Blue Tooth and would also have an e-paper screen that could easily be read in sunlight, as well as the ability to show emails, tell you who is calling on your phone, and serve as a bike computer for avid cyclists.
But nobody coughed up the cash.
“I wasn’t extremely surprised,” Migicovsky told The Times. “Hardware is much harder to raise money for. We were hoping we could convince some people to our vision, but it didn’t work out.”
And so, in a sort of desperation, he turned to the crowd-source funding site Kickstarter to see if the masses on the Internet might help him out.
They did: Migicovsky’s Pebble watch raised $100,000 in the first two hours it was on the site, and has currently raised $4.7 million with 30 days of fundraising left to go.
It’s sort of a funny type of fundraising though, which might better be described as pre-ordering the Pebble Watch for a discount off the final price.
For example, if you pledge $115 to Migicovsky and his team, you will get one Pebble Watch in the black color when the Pebble starts shipping this fall.
The same watch will retail for $150.
So far 20,000 people have signed up at the $125 level. An additional 7,000 pledged $125 to get the Pebble in a different color, and 1,500 have pledged $220 to get two Pebble watches.
Seven backers have even pledged $10,000 or more, which means they will get the watch in bulk.
Migicovzky is confident that the amount of money he can raise on Kickstarter by pre-selling his watch will continue to grow.
“We raised $700,000 in watches on Tuesday, and on Wednesday we are track to beat that,” he said.