How to Crowdfund Your Dream: Checking In on the WWW Kickstarter Fund

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Romo Smartphone Robot on Kickstarter

Romo—The Smartphone Robot for Everyone

Project Deadline: Nov. 15

Goal: $100,000

Status: FUNDED ($170,034 collected)

This is a project to build a roaming base that turns an iPhone into a mini telepresence robot. It blew way past its funding goal. The project had a built-in fan base thanks to a successful $115,000 project in 2011 to build the first version of the device. But my guess is that the project’s frequent and enthusiastic posts to supporters also helped.

Sparse Bicycle Lights on Kickstarter

Sparse Bicycle Lights

Project Deadline: December 8

Goal: $45,000

Status: IN PROGRESS, GOAL EXCEEDED ($58,814 pledged as of Dec. 6)

Anybody who bikes in San Francisco knows that everything not securely bolted to their bike will get stolen sooner or later. The ingenious idea behind these LED bike lights is that they fit around the stem of your bike seat and handlebars, so a potential thief would have to take your bike apart to get at them. The project is part of a larger effort by San Francisco-based designer and engineer Colin Owen to rethink bike design to encourage more bike commuting. The project has already passed its fundraising goal, but there’s still time to contribute if you want to help Sparse hit a strong finish.

Square Frame project on Kickstarter

Square Frame

Project Deadline: Nov. 15

Goal: $5,000

Status: UNSUCCESSFUL ($1,242 pledged)

The creators of this campaign hoped to raise money to market an aluminum photo frame optimized for displaying pictures from Instagram. I thought it was a cool idea, but it was hard to tell whether the team’s heart was really in it, since they never posted any project updates.

Sunseeker Duo project on Kickstarter

Sunseeker Duo

Project Deadline: Nov. 11

Goal: $70,000

Status: UNSUCCESSFUL ($25,927 pledged)

Pilot Eric Raymond of Ramona, CA, raised less than half of the sum he’d hoped to collect from Kickstarter to finish the electronic systems in this two-seater, solar-powered plane. To meet his goal, I think Raymond would have needed to spell out the societal benefit of the project more clearly. I backed it because I think solar flight is cool, but I can see how the project might have come off as one dude’s project to finish his weekend-hobby plane. Raymond posted no status updates and the project attracted zero comments, so community involvement was definitely a missing element.

The Vela Music Project on Kickstarter

The Vela Music Project

Project Deadline: Dec. 26

Goal: $50,000

Status: IN PROGRESS ($2,522 pledged as of Dec. 6)

The Vela iOS app, which is already available in the iTunes App store, lets you select songs on Rhapsody, Spotify, or Rdio verbally the same way you can ask Siri to play songs from your iTunes playlists. It’s the creation of Air Force veteran Justin Mason, who says he’ll use the money to build an Android version as well as an improved iOS version. The campaign hasn’t picked up much momentum yet.

Who Killed (or Saved) The Music Industry? on Kickstarter

Who Killed (Or Saved!) the Music Industry?

Project Deadline: Nov. 14

Goal: $30,000

Status: FUNDED ($33,381 collected)

Rock musicians Ryan Phillips and Adam Russell turned to Kickstarter for help raising the money they need to finish their documentary about the recent history of the music business. The campaign succeeded, largely on the strength of the video Phillips and Russell posted on Kickstarter, and the duo estimate that they’ll finish the film by July 2013.

Pistol Lake Men's Shirts on Kickstarter

Pistol Lake—Perfect Men’s Shirts at Perfect Prices (formerly From Holden)

Project Deadline: Dec. 8

Goal: $5,000

Status: IN PROGRESS, GOAL EXCEEDED ($45,882 pledged as of Dec. 6)

Pistol Lake plans to open an online store selling tailored hoodies, polo shirts, T-shirts, and v-necks at reasonable prices. It’s the creation of William Sulinski, a former Boston-based entrepreneur who recently transplated himself to the Los Angeles area. The project ran into a speed bump when a trademark dispute forced Sulinski to change the company’s name, but that didn’t slow down fundraising on Kickstarter. The project has shot way past its original $5,000 goal. Apparently a lot of guys are interested in dressing better, without shelling out for Burberry or Ralph Lauren.

Spark Wi-Fi Lightbulb Controller on Kickstarter

Spark—Upgrade Your Lights with Wi-Fi and Apps

Project Deadline: Dec. 13

Goal: $250,000

Status: IN PROGRESS ($107,415 pledged as of Dec. 6)

This is an ambitious project to raise a quarter of a million dollars to commercialize a Wi-Fi-enabled light socket that lets you control your lights via the Internet. The possibilities are pretty fun: you can login to Spark’s website and take a turn controlling the Christmas lights on their house in Minnesota. But it’s looking like the creators are going to need a little holiday magic reach their goal by December 13.

1 Second Every Day App on Kickstarter1 Second Every Day App

Project Deadline: Dec. 27

Goal: $20,000

Status: IN PROGRESS, GOAL EXCEEDED ($31,010 pledged as of Dec. 6)

Like Victor Saad (see The Leapyear Project Book, above), Brooklyn-based Cesar Kuriyama decided to take a year off from his regular work to explore other interests. Also like Saad, Kuriyama decided to create a chronicle of that year. But he did it very differently: by recording 1 second of video every day and, eventually, stringing the clips together into a 6-minute video. Now he’s building an iOS app to let others do the same thing. The project hit its funding goal this week, and Kuriyama says he hopes to release the app before the year is out. An Android version is on the way too.

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Wade Roush is the producer and host of the podcast Soonish and a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @soonishpodcast

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