Why is an established photography company like Lomography chasing Kickstarter to help position its new camera lens as the next big thing? It's simple: Kickstarter, a website that acts as a platform to fund new projects, has grown from its humble beginnings to become the most well-known crowdfunding platform. In fact, Kickstarter has become a key source for tech companies and many others to generate capital for launching their own 'next big thing'.
Lomography is using Kickstarter, which was founded just four years ago, to help generate funds for launch of its new Petzval DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflect) Lens. The new device is unique because it takes the legendary high-quality glass art lens made in Russia and brings it up to 21st-century levels. It offers Petzval's super-sharp centers and bokeh (background blur) effects, together with mounts for Canon EF- and Nikon F-compatible cameras and other modern development feats.
But having a solid or unique product is not always enough to ensure success. Having the funds to produce and promote any new product is essential, explaining why Lomography and so many other companies, both large and small, are turning to Kickstarter for help.
So far, it appears Lomography has chosen its funding platform well. At the time of this writing, the company had already exceeded its $100,000 goal by raising $162,495 -- and there are still 29 days to go.
The Big Picture
While the Lomography Petzval Portrait Lens has already grabbed the interest of design shops as well as personal photography fans, something else is significant: What does the Lomography campaign say about businesses and crowdfunding?
After all, these are not lab students using a neighborhood sub shop as a home office. Lomography is an established business that is over 10 years old.
Companies are turning to Kickstarter to test what potential buyers might think about their products, to build on campaign successes when approaching next-phase backers, and also to get more ideas from eager supporters. Scientific researchers are also turning to Kickstarter to fund their own projects.
By relying on such a platform, entrepreneurs and others can better cushion themselves against the risks of failed products or creative endeavors that don't get off the ground.
Daqri Takes Campaign Route
Another case is Daqri, an established augmented reality (AR) company that has worked in over 1,000 media campaigns as well as in the medical, education and manufacturing sectors. Daqri recently turned to Kickstarter for the first time.
The company is launching Elements 4D on the funding platform, an interactive chemistry learning experience designed to entice a broader audience to start interacting with AR. Elements 4D is a set of six wooden blocks that come to life with a Daqri app.
The face of each block depicts a different chemical symbol, representing the elements of the periodic table. Beaming the app's viewfinder onto blocks instantly transforms it into a 4D representation of that element. When you put two blocks together, they create a new chemical compound. But why Kickstarter?
"Kickstarter was the perfect place to raise awareness about the educational opportunity for 4D -- and find out what resonates most with early augmented reality enthusiasts," according to the company blog.
Value of Feedback
Daqri is not just testing the waters but, like so many other scientists and engineers, the firm is eager to carve out a path to learned feedback.
"We are looking to the Kickstarter community for input on the final design and experience," according to the Daqri team. "For example, wouldn't it be fun to be able to change an element's form from liquid, to gas, to solid, and simultaneously learn the temperatures required to induce each state? Should we include atomic models so that you can see elements share electrons as they bond? Should we add the visual effects that realistically bring the chemical reaction to life? We want to hear from you!"
Watch for an interesting shift in crowdfunding, with Kickstarter as a signpost. The platform may no longer just be famous for pushing starry-eyed college students out into the marketplace but rather for providing established businesses with more options to innovate and grow.