SEARCH

Entries in Kickstarter (3)

Tuesday
Sep182012

Everpurse: A Purse with a Built-In Phone Charger

Everpurse(NEW YORK) -- Liz Salcedo was a social worker who helped other people with their problems, but she had a problem of her own: a battery life problem. She was using her phone heavily, and by 2 p.m. on most days, her iPhone was almost completely out of juice.

Her husband decided to lend a hand and bought her a number of third-party mobile chargers. Together they rigged a system to charge her phone in her purse so she didn't have to chase down AC outlets wherever she went.

"We made modifications to it and it worked fairly well," Salcedo, 27, told ABC News. "Friends started wanting me to make one for them."

So she did. Together with her husband and now-business-partner, Dan, she has created Everpurse, a bag with a built-in battery charger.

The small bag, which is meant to fit inside a larger purse or laptop bag, has a built-in charging pocket. You drop your phone in the bag and it "automatically connects to the charger via gravity," says Salcedo. Salcedo wouldn't go into detail on how the phone connects; the patent, she says, is still pending. There will be bags that support the older iPhone charging port, Apple's new Lightning port, and MicroUSB ports, which are used on most Android phones.

A battery in the bag charges your phone, and a wireless pad charges the battery in the bag. Using inductive charging you lay the bag right on the pad. It works similarly to the wireless-charging Powermat accessories, but uses the Qi wireless charging standard, which is the same technology in Nokia's new Lumia 820 and 920.

"I think wireless charging is where we are headed," Salcedo said. "I wanted to do something that cut down on the wires."

That's also shown in the design of the bag itself. Behind the bag's inside lining are the inductive receiver and battery. You cannot see wires or the battery; Everpurse teamed up with two Chicago designers to craft the bags so that they look non-technical. The small bags will be available in different colors and materials, including leather and cloth.

But they aren't quite ready yet. With a prototype made, Salcedo took the project to Kickstarter.com, a crowdfunding website, which allows people to invest in and buy the product. Since launching last week on the site, more than 800 people have backed the project and Everpurse has raised over $125,000.

Early backers were able to buy one fabric Everpurse and one charging mat for $99, typically a $175 value, says Salcedo. For $119, Everpurse is offering a leather bag and one charging mat. The Kickstarter deals will be offered until Oct. 13.

Kickstarter projects don't always take off, but Everpurse seems to have struck a chord with buyers and other consumer electronics companies. While Salcedo says she will likely sell the bag after the Kickstarter run, she also says she may license the technology to other bag makers. Within the last couple of weeks she has heard from a few bag and technology companies.

It's going to be a bit of time before you can get the Everpurse. Salcedo says it will ship by March 2013. (Her plan is to make as much of the bag as possible in the U.S.) Looks as if some of us will just have to be okay with rigging our own purse-phone-charging systems until then.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Aug122012

Kickstarter vs. Quirky: Startups Provide New Routes for Invention

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It's one thing to buy a fun new gadget or accessory, another to think up an idea for one, and a whole other thing to bring it to market.

Even as actual production is increasingly outsourced, the companies that create your products are creation machines: design, research, engineering, marketing, testing, branding, legal, distribution.

However, two New York companies – Kickstarter and Quirky -- have begun to help those who need help bringing gadgets to market. Their approaches offer very different paths to market.

Kickstarter: Crowdfunding for Entrepreneurs

Kickstarter focuses on crowdsourcing. The site has sections devoted to the arts: music, photography, fashion, film, theater. There's also a technology section, but it tends to focus on hobbyist endeavors such as MaKey, which allows you to activate actions on a PC by tapping on such non-digital items as a glob of Play-Doh or a banana. The real home for consumer gadgets is in the Design section, under Products.

Kickstarter projects, which must be approved by the site before being listed, are usually offered for about four to six weeks. During that time, the creators must reach a certain funding goal. If they don't, they get nothing. Some projects ask for a couple of thousand dollars, others $100,000 or more. Recently, the Pebble smartwatch, which can communicate with an iPhone or an Android device, raised a record $10 million.

Kickstarter projects offer a number of rewards for project backers, based on how much they pledge. In the Product Design section, this often includes a preorder of the product being developed. Payments are made via Amazon Payments, which, like Kickstarter itself, takes a percentage of the money raised.

Quirky: From Start to Finish

Like Kickstarter, Quirky, which describes its business as reinventing inventing, generates its product ideas from Website visitors. It also cooks up some internally and has trotted out a couple of tech-related devices. But while most of Kickstarter's projects are about the creative arts, most of Quirky's veer toward household items.

The major difference, though, lies in the level of expertise required. Kickstarter project creators are responsible for what they need to bring products to market. Kickstarter simply facilitates the raising of cash to fund those efforts.

In Quirky's case, all you really need to get going is an idea, perhaps enough drawing skill to visualize it, and $10 for Quirky's filing fee. If an idea is lucky enough to be picked by the community and pass Quirky's approval process, Quirky not only puts its in-house team of designers and engineers to work, but tries to get placement for it on the shelves of retailers who are Quirky partners. These include Bed, Bath and Beyond; Target; Amazon.com; and The Container Store.

For all this assistance, Quirky assumes the patents on the product, but pays a perpetual royalty to the inventor. Its biggest success story to date has been Pivot Power, a snaking power strip that avoids the problem of not being able to accommodate bulky wall wart AC adapters. Jake Zien, the developer and recent Rhode Island School of Design graduate, has been paid more than $285,000 by Quirky. Quirky also awards "influence points" to community members for voting on products, suggesting names and participating in pricing polls.

Buyer Beware

In either case, be prepared to wait as products often get iteratively redesigned and refined before they are put into final production. After receiving Kickstarter funding or the green light from Quirky, products can take weeks or months to be ready. In at least one Kickstarter case, a product that had attracted many pre-orders was abandoned and the inventor said he could not return the money, leaving backers out in the cold. Kickstarter, like eBay in its early days, takes no responsibility for enforcing delivery of pre-orders even after credit cards are charged.

On the other hand, many small companies and well-funded startups are turning to Kickstarter to help ease the financing burden and generate pre-orders for products that they would have created anyway. Quirky, in contrast, has abandoned pre-orders after trying them in the site's early days, but still has a long backlog of products to create. But it, like most Kickstarter project creators, works to keep customers up-to-date via posts and videos.

Because Quirky is generally reaching for a customer base with critical mass, the appeal of its products must generally be a lot broader and often more affordable than many of the more niche-oriented devices on Kickstarter.

But both companies open doors to a wide range of products that otherwise might have floated aimlessly, perhaps in the head of someone like you.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr132011

Magic Coffee Beans Save You From Scalding Coffee

Joulies [dot] com(NEW YORK) -- Young inventors Dave Petrillo and Dave Jackson may have solved a problem that has frustrated many an office warrior -- the scalding cup of coffee.

But it's not just their product that's innovative.  The funding for their Coffee Joulies, a product that cools scalding drinks down to their optimal temperature and keeps the drink at its optimal drinking level, came from a social media site that crowd-sources funding for start-ups: Kickstarter.

So what is a Coffee Joulie, and why would you want it anywhere near my cup of Joe?  The small bean-shaped stainless steel Joulies are each about the size of a large ice cube and are filled with a non-toxic material designed to regulate the temperature of hot beverages.

The liquid found inside the Joulies is the key ingredient that regulates a steaming cup of coffee.  The substance (its formula is a trade secret) liquefies as it absorbs heat until it reaches 140 degrees Fahrenheit.  At that point, the substance starts to harden again, releasing stored energy and keeping the temperature of the cup around 140 degrees.

The beans last a lifetime with proper care (think silverware), and are completely safe, according to the two Daves.

"The mug you drink your coffee out of is probably made out of the same stainless steel [the beans are made from], so there is absolutely no problem there.  The stuff that's inside is completely edible and food based.  It's so non-toxic that you could drink it," Jackson told ABC News.

Kickstarter is a two-year-old company that has becoming the largest funding platform for creative projects in the world.  So far, 500,000 people have pledged over $50 million to start-ups just like Dave and Dave's Joulies, getting rewards like products for their investment.

The site allows people to post their ideas and concepts and ask for "pledges" from Kickstarter's user base.  If the combined pledges reach the goal set by the entrepreneur (or surpasses it), they get the money, minus a five percent fee for Kickstarter.  If funding does not hit the goal, no money changes hands, so it is for companies with products and/or hard start and end points.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio