San Diego’s 10 Top-Funded Kickstarter Tech Projects of 2014

Securing venture funding for tech startups has never been easy in San Diego, especially after the great recession came to town in 2008. But in recent years, crowdfunding has opened a new outlet for technology innovation in San Diego and other regional hubs. (Our list of San Diego’s 10 top-funded tech projects on Kickstarter is below.)

When Daniel Lee, Daniel Chesong Lee, and Daniel Synn launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter last November, they hoped to raise $100,000 to help them produce Hush, noise-masking “smart earplugs” they had developed over the previous year. They met their $100,000 goal in five days. When their Kickstarter campaign ended in December, Hush backers had committed a total of $593,255—and validated an idea that originated in an undergrad class for entrepreneurial-minded engineers at UC San Diego.

Hush CEO Daniel Lee

Hush CEO Daniel Lee

As a recent college grad, however, CEO Daniel Lee said he didn’t have the necessary credentials to raise funding from VCs. Lee was able to raise about $150,000 from angel investors in San Diego, but he says crowdfunding was really his only option for raising enough capital to actually begin producing Hush earbuds.

As for the crowdfunding experience, Lee said, “We were pleasantly surprised by the press coverage we got, just by virtue of getting funded on Kickstarter.”

Indeed, technology journalists pay close attention to successfully funded projects in technology and industrial design on Kickstarter, according to John Dimatos, who oversees technology and design projects for the Brooklyn-based company. Even though the crowdfunding platform is primarily focused on creative projects, Dimatos says Kickstarter also has become an online watering hole for the technorati.

John Dimatos

John Dimatos

Because he worked at MakerBot Industries before joining Kickstarter two years ago, Dimatos says he watches how the maker community interacts through the comment sections of Kickstarter projects in certain tech categories. For example, some audio projects, such as wireless speakers and headphones, generate hundreds and even thousands of comments—and serve up interesting conversations about innovation as well as the latest industry gossip, Dimatos said.

It’s a willingness to share ideas and expertise that has benefited Hush, Lee said.

“There are definitely some technically minded people who are making some awesome suggestions” for Hush, Lee said. (There are 340 comments about the Hush project on Kickstarter.) “We have received over 20 e-mails in the past month from people who are trying to improve our product.”

So what’s trending among the Kickstarter projects in San Diego?

We seem to share the same fascination with 3D printers, drones, and personal display technologies that appear on Xconomy’s nationwide list of the top-funded tech projects on Kickstarter in 2014. Many of San Diego’s tech projects on Kickstarter also seem to … Next Page »

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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