Predicting Our Futureis a podcast about the next revolutions in technology, as seen through the eyes of a serial entrepreneur. Below is an edited transcript excerpt from Episode 11: "Searching Kickstarter for the Next Killer Smart Home Product" -- the second episode in a 7-part series on the future of the smart home.
In this episode of Predicting Our Future, I explore the future of the smart home by speaking with experts and entrepreneurs about how smart home startups have been using crowdfunding campaigns and making waves with innovative hardware devices.
Crowdfunding: A Success I Didn't Bet On
My personal relationship to Kickstarter is not one that I enjoy repeating. I met Perry Chen in 2007 when I was introduced to him by Sunny Bates, a long-time friend and Kickstarter’s first investor. While Chen’s initial idea was around getting fans of bands to fund the bands’ music, he quickly came up with this idea that people would pay for a product in advance simply because they wanted to see that product created. He offered me the chance to invest and I turned him down. Why would people devote their time offering to buy products that didn’t exist?
I’ve done a fairly good job in my career in sizing up entrepreneurs and the opportunities in front of them. But here’s a story of a company that I badly misjudged, and it’s because I didn’t appreciate the dynamic behind the vision and how vital it would become to the future disruption of so many industries.
From an entrepreneur’s perspective, it should be obvious why a platform where you can visually or verbally describe a future product would be appealing. Why waste time on building something that people don’t want when you can ask people ahead of time whether they would buy your product? For those of you who haven’t used Kickstarter or aren’t familiar with it, that’s exactly how it works. You can browse products that people want to build. And if you like what you see, you can commit to buy the product if and when it’s ever built. What surprised me was that, in a world where you might think every conceivable product is available on Amazon, there are still lots of products people are willing to pay for that are yet to be conceived.