Before crowdfunding, the only way to make money for your latest and greatest tech product was to prostrate yourself to wealthy investors who are looking to maximize their profits. Investors who are not very interested in a product or idea as such, but really care about whether it sells a million units in record time.
Now everything has changed. Crowdfunding allows ordinary people to shell out a few dollars so that bright and daring entrepreneurs can bring their vision to life. Most people who invest in crowdfunding tech gadgets actually really want the product itself, or at least want it to exist.
Emptor Warning – Buyer Beware!
Of course, as a crowdfunding investor, you must be fully aware of what you are getting yourself into. The classic crowdfunding model is not an investment. The people to whom you give money are not required to return the money to you. It’s not an investment, you don’t own stock, and the promise to deliver a product isn’t as binding as many think.
This means that you should never invest in a crowdfunding project that is inconvenient for you to write off. A significant number of projects will not be successful, but if you take the time to really read the presentations, you will increase your chances of supporting the winner.
So where do you go shopping to invest in the next big tech crowdfunding success story? These are the four most famous crowdfunding sites known for their great technology products. We have excluded crowdfunding sites such as GoFundMe, which are mainly involved in charity work, although sometimes technology-related projects can be found there.
Kickstarter is the epitome of the crowdfunding revolution and has been around since 2009. Some of the most famous (and notorious) tech projects have been funded through Kickstarter.
By now, the Kickstarter model is pretty well known and copied frequently. If the project does not reach the requested funding amount, it will not be funded. Thus, you “mortgage” the amount, and not immediately and directly give the money. It won’t cost you a dime if the project doesn’t get enough support.
Project owners can set remuneration levels for different donation levels. For tech products like virtual reality headsets or game consoles, a level is often used that brings you together. Kickstarter shoppers often get first copies at well below retail prices, but of course you may not get anything at all.
This site is pretty much the first stop for anyone looking to help crowdfund the gadget as it also attracts some of the best projects. However, not everyone likes the Kickstarter model. Fortunately, there are alternatives.
Believe it or not, IndieGoGo was launched before Kickstarter, although it did not immediately become so popular. The idea is also very similar to Kickstarter: project owners offer tiered rewards to people who offer them some money.
Since 2016, IndieGoGo has also offered the option of selling shares to micro-investors, but in principle it is not a crowdfunding platform. Most projects still follow the Kickstarter model more or less.
IndieGoGo also offers a marketplace where you can directly buy products that are already available. So if you just want to get an innovative new gadget, this is a great alternative to the years it can take for new projects.
In many ways, IndieGoGo seems a little more innovative and flexible than Kickstarter these days, and still attracts a lot of AAA project ideas at its own merits. If you’re feeling generous, be sure to stop by.
If you feel like there are too many pointless technical projects on the large mass crowdfunding sites, then this site is for you. Crowdsupply is geared towards hardcore hardware, and most of its project categories are geared towards complex applications such as networking, robotics, and open source hardware. There are also categories of products, toys, and more, but overall, this is heaven for those who love PCBs and the smell of solder.
Another thing that sets Crowdsupply apart is its name. The company makes every effort to ensure that projects that have received funding and created fall into the hands of sponsors. They have their own distribution infrastructure and always ensure the production and delivery of successful products.
They also have a much stricter set of criteria that apply before anyone is allowed to list a project. Overall, Crowdsupply is much more user-centric than the competition, and has some truly innovative tech projects, albeit less compelling ones.
Unlike other crowdfunding platforms, Crowdfunder allows actual investments in exchange for capital in the company in question. This solves the main problem many people face with crowdfunding – the fact that people don’t owe anything for the money they put in. Even the promised rewards.
The catch is that not everyone can invest in companies on this platform. Due to legal restrictions, only accredited investors are allowed to invest in promising startups. However, this must change. In response to the changing investment world, legal changes are being made that will allow anyone to invest their money in early startups.
If you are planning to invest more serious money in the next tech startup to take over the world, Crowdfunder is the place to keep your eye on.
Science and technology are inextricably linked. After all, it is a scientific discovery that gives us the knowledge that allows us to create technologies that everyone likes today. So, while projects you can fund with Experiment usually don’t lead directly to a specific gadget or gadget, you can help develop something that could one day change everything.
New battery technology? You will find such things in “Experiment”. Robots? You are placing your bet! There are research projects in just about every discipline you can think of, and if the techies in you are concerned about something, then this is a great place to toss a few copper coins if you have them.
Of course, you won’t get anything in return, but you will have this warm fuzzy feeling if you help advance human knowledge.
Patreon is a site where people working on all sorts of projects get funding. Artists, content creators, and just about anyone else who needs financial help to pursue their passionate projects. Patreon is not like Kickstarter in the sense that you can get a shiny new gadget for your contribution. However, there are tons of techies out there who create cool stuff that you can help through this site.
They can develop new software or work on prototypes for niche devices. By becoming a patron, you can help them continue their project and perhaps one day move on to something like Kickstarter or venture capital investments.
So, to be clear, you are not getting any real gadgets for yourself. However, you must be involved in this process! This is pretty handy for those who love technology for their own sake. There are also many authors who create educational content that can help nurture a new generation of inventors, so this is a really good place to spread love from time to time.
While the Kickstarter model that made crowdfunding mainstream is not a form of investment, that doesn’t mean you can’t crowdfunding. CrowdCube allows you to buy shares in startups looking for funding there.
There are many technology-related projects on display at the show, and while you won’t get a gadget out of it, if this company takes off, you could make some serious profits. On the other hand, as with any investment, you can also see your investment grow in smoke.
As such, the same advice still applies as it does to Kickstarter and the like. That is, don’t save money that you cannot afford to lose.
Republic is another example of crowdfunding that also works as an investment. If you invest in a successful startup, you will make a profit.
The republic stands out in many ways. First, many investment crowdfunding platforms only allow registered investors to invest. The republic is open to everyone, and in some projects the minimum investment is only ten dollars.
One of the reasons they can handle this risk is the incredible degree of selectivity in the offer. Republic claims that only 3% of startups that turn to them go through crowdfunding.
While approved startups change over time and will not always be technology-driven, there is plenty here for those looking to invest in technology. Republic has implemented projects related to robotics, genomics, fintech and many others. If you don’t see an interesting investment opportunity today, you can always come back from time to time. Who knows? You might end up getting funding for the next Uber or AirBnB!
Money Well Spent
Crowdfunding has truly changed the game in the tech world. Instead of having to deal with some suitable types of shark aquariums, innovators are now working directly with the public. We can show what technology we really want and be part of the story when great success really happens.
Yes, there is never any guarantee that you will get something concrete for your contribution, but this is better than any of the unnecessary things that independent inventors come up with. So why not spread some love?