Robohub.org
 

Kickstarter, Indiegogo and robotic start-up companies

by
24 March 2013



share this:
At last weekend’s Engadget Expand event in Fort Mason, San Francisco, Kickstarter‘s co-founder Yancey Strickler started off the show with a presentation of many of Kickstarter’s crowd-funding success stories. 17 projects raised $1 million+ in 2012 including Pebble, the customizable watch, Oculus Rift, a  virtual reality headset for video games, SmartThings, a platform and hub that connect household things to the Internet and your smartphone, and Form 1, an affordable plug and play high-res 3D printer. [As an aside, Stanford now teaches a for-credit course on Kickstarter.]
FormLabs’ Form 1 $3,300 hi-res 3D printer.

Outside the area where the talks were held were a series of show booths including a group of booths under rival crowd funder Indiegogo‘s banner. The East Coast / West Coast rivalry between Kickstarter and Indiegogo appears to be good for start-ups and for each company, and it is certainly colorful — just talk to anybody from Kickstarter about Indiegogo or vice versa. Indiegogo has been pushing globally, incorporating new languages, currencies and localized homepages to encourage foreign investors and campaigns — and has seen a 20% increase in international activity in recent months. Kickstarter is playing catch-up but definitely moving internationally. All this, plus the New York City versus San Francisco and Silicon Valley competitiveness, makes for a lively rivalry.

The East Coast tech boom, really the New York City tech boom, is very real and growing. 127 start-ups happened in NYC in 2012 – three of which were robotics-related (Falkor Systems, DreamBots, and Robotic Systems & Technologies) and four more nearby (see The Robot Report’s Global Map and filter for Start-ups) – showing the vitality of NYC and also that there are serious alternatives to Silicon Valley in terms of software development, technology and entrepreneurship.

Many of the robotics-related start-ups on Kickstarter and Indiegogo fall into two categories: (1) funding for school teams and contests, theater/film/documentary/video/web projects, little gimmicks, gadgets and toys (which call themselves robotic but it’s a stretch), and (2) everything else. A sampling of the eclectic second group includes RoboBrrd, a robotics DIY kit, DiveBot, an ROV with HD cameras, Dragonfly, a GA Tech spin-off hit which raised over $1 million in two days, and RepRapPro Huxley, a new 3D printer which can print all the parts to make another RepRapPro Huxley.

Certainly this form of crowd-funding is good for some aspects of robotics. But I fear that much time, new-investor enthusiasm, and money are wasted on gimmicks and gadgets that are out of date within a season and have no real follow-up business plan. Further, because crowd funding, like TED Talks, is fun in and of itself, there is a challenge to present, share and seek recognition, an ego-building adventure in addition to the original goal of seeking money for product development.

I understand that from games and toys often comes familiarity, growing awareness and job applicants, but I wonder if a few more successful robotic products like iRobot, Intuitive SurgicalKiva Systems and Liquid Robotics would have the same effect or better effect. This is the theory espoused by Colin Angle, iRobot’s CEO, who has said:

The idea that a humanoid robot with arms would push a vacuum cleaner is an image that has set many expectations and, in some ways, has set back the industry, when, by just rethinking what needs to be done, we can build a product that satisfies a specific need (vacuuming), as iRobot did with their Roomba line of robotic vacuums. I used to think that I was a self-respecting high-tech entrepreneur, but it took me becoming a vacuum cleaner salesman to actually have some success for my company, my investors and myself.

Also see my other article about robotics at the Engadget Expand event.



tags: , , , , ,


Frank Tobe is the owner and publisher of The Robot Report, and is also a panel member for Robohub's Robotics by Invitation series.
Frank Tobe is the owner and publisher of The Robot Report, and is also a panel member for Robohub's Robotics by Invitation series.





Related posts :



Robot Talk Episode 90 – Robotically Augmented People

In this special live recording at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Claire chatted to Milia Helena Hasbani, Benjamin Metcalfe, and Dani Clode about robotic prosthetics and human augmentation.
21 June 2024, by

Robot Talk Episode 89 – Simone Schuerle

In the latest episode of the Robot Talk podcast, Claire chatted to Simone Schuerle from ETH Zürich all about microrobots, medicine and science.
14 June 2024, by

Robot Talk Episode 88 – Lord Ara Darzi

In the latest episode of the Robot Talk podcast, Claire chatted to Lord Ara Darzi from Imperial College London all about robotic surgery - past, present and future.
07 June 2024, by

Robot Talk Episode 87 – Isabelle Ormerod

In the latest episode of the Robot Talk podcast, Claire chatted to Isabelle Ormerod from the University of Bristol all about human-centred design and women in robotics.
31 May 2024, by

Robot Talk Episode 86 – Mario Di Castro

In the latest episode of the Robot Talk podcast, Claire chatted to Mario Di Castro from CERN all about robotic inspection and maintenance in hazardous environments.
24 May 2024, by

Congratulations to the #ICRA2024 best paper winners

The winners and finalists in the different categories have been announced.
20 May 2024, by





Robohub is supported by:




Would you like to learn how to tell impactful stories about your robot or AI system?


scicomm
training the next generation of science communicators in robotics & AI


©2024 - Association for the Understanding of Artificial Intelligence


 












©2021 - ROBOTS Association