I’m a huge Kickstarter fanboy. The creativity that they’ve unleashed is mind-boggling and embodies exactly what the Internet is capable of.
The projects I’ve backed tend to skew tech-heavy and I recently wondered if there were any identifiable trends as to what sort of tech projects get backed. I hear all the time about companies that started with a Kickstarter campaign; are there any patterns?
Kickstarter is really open about what projects get backed (note that it’s not clear how accurate the project counts are; they seem to appear/disappear/dramatically change based on when you access the site), so I went out and scraped some data (code here).
I managed to get data on 1700 successful tech projects, which raised a cumulative total of $212,472,913. That’s an average of $124,984 per project-but this is no even distribution. The winners (like the Pono music player, Reading Rainbow or Zano drone) raise millions while Kymira smart sports apparel is limping in at $8,000 or so (but still successful; kudos). The median raised is $45,992.
I wrote some code to try and cluster these projects and found a few categories that people like to back:
Physical Computing: Arduino clones and shields; Raspberry Pi accessories galore. Examples include Microview, RFDuino and the Touch Board.
3D Printers: Every type you can imagine, including the Micro, the Form1 and the 3Doodler.
Home Automation: Smart plugs, dimmers, remotes – Kickstarters want a connected home. Sample projects are Ube Wifi dimmer, the NEEO remote and the Ninja Sphere controller.
Lighting: Make it glow-whether lights attached to your stereo, fancy bike lights or an enhancement to your GoPro. Examples are the Notti Smart Light, Lume Cube flashbulbs or Playbulb candles.
Phone Accessories: Anything that can pimp your phone. Check out the Jorno foldable keyboard, Thermodo thermometer or Chipolo item finder.
Solar Powered Gizmos: Kickstarter backers seem to really want to take their electronics outside. Witness the WakaWaka Base, SPOR and Solarpod Pyxis chargers/lights.
Here’s how many projects fall into each category:
That’s a high of 433 for Home Automation versus 181 3D printers.
(Hate that there are no numbers in these graphs? I do, but can’t figure out how to add labels. All the raw data is here.)
The total funds raised varies dramatically across the categories ($M):
Surprisingly, Physical Computing has clocked almost $50M ($46.4M), closely followed by 3D Printers at $41.4M. Solar Power is half this at $21.5M.
There’s a similar difference in the the amount raised per category-both the average and median ($K):
On a per-project basis, 3D Printers have captured peoples wallets (most likely have a much higher per unit cost than other projects) and clock in with a $229.0K/$79.9K average/median raise. This median is almost as high as the average for solar power projects: $89.4K/$42.3K average/median.
A couple of closing thoughts:
- I was amazed at how much money has gone towards backing Physical Computing. I imagine that most of these devices were bought by geeks to make geeky devices, so I’m guessing that we’re only at the starting of a big revolution in Internet-connected devices
- There was no major cluster for robotics or drones. This surprised me as I would have guessed more based on the buzz in the press. Big difference between what is bought vs. what is talked about
- Some of the major success stories (like Pono or Reading Rainbow) don’t fall into an of these categories. I don’t yet know how to interpret these “one hit wonders” but its interesting to think about why they succeeded as a product but didn’t launch a category