When the Pebble watch recently scored more than $10 million in backing via Kickstarter it concurrently drew more attention to how the concept of a crowdfunded venture remains behind the curve in Canada. Eric Migicovsky, the Vancouver-born University of Waterloo graduate whose customizable wrist device has been capitalized with more than 100 times its original goal, may not have needed to reside in Palo Alto to imagine the Bluetooth gizmo — but successful startups are generally a product of the environment from which they originate.
With no indication of plans by Kickstarter to break beyond the Amazon payment system technically limited to U.S. residents, a platform called Ideavibes has announced its intentions to step up, with the hope that the Canadian government will follow the legitimization of crowdfunding. For now, the opportunity for an American donor to get equity in a program through the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act has no equivalent around here.
The potential for that to change is being closely watched at the Academy of the Impossible as part of events in our Hacking Reality series this spring. While the local projects highlighted during a couple of sessions to date have been relatively modest, there seems to be a growing desire to raise the stakes, even if the strategies still benefit from the novelty value of these websites.
Indiegogo, which can boast of an unparalleled global reach that extends from Sydney to Paris to Toronto, has possibly attracted a few ideas that would have gone the Kickstarter route — although its allowance of those who have fallen short of a goal to cash in their pledges with a 9 per cent deduction, compared to 4 per cent for those who do, has some appeal. Glory Hole Donuts, a bakery looking to set up shop in Parkdale, has gained press attention based on its audacity alone. Reaching the $15,000 goal by July could also prove a challenge when the rewards offered at the $100 level are either a dozen baked goods or a couple of T-shirts.
The people behind Atlas, a human-powered helicopter now seeking $30,000 via Kickstarter, do not necessarily promise anything more concrete in their bid for the never-claimed $250,000 Sikorsky Prize — although a rib section from the first such craft to potentially get off the ground quickly appealed to some backers, while others would be satisfied with a souvenir.
Keeping overall score of crowdfunding in Toronto, meanwhile, is a task that seemed perfectly suited for Pinterest. We have set up several new boards based on a monitor of the notable activity on Kickstarter and Indiegogo along with projects from RocketHub.
The efforts are a prelude to a Crowdfunding Conversation on Thursday, May 31 at 7 p.m at the Academy of the Impossible (231 Wallace Ave. in Toronto). Presenters will include James Cooper, who raised over $20,000 for his recently-completed short Elijah the Prophet, and will share his experiences in a book called Kickstarter for Filmmakers. (Click here for more details.)