Is Kickstarter the Future for Tech Hardware Entrepreneurs?
Lance Parker is building something he says will bring a new level of convenience and security to on-the-go computing — and he’s funding the project through Kickstarter.
His product is called Compude, a tiny device that allows users to take a data-locked version of their personal computers’ contents with them, then plug in and work on any smartphone, tablet or other computer. He says it’s the smallest fingerprint authentication device in the world.
“With tablets, desktops, laptops and smartphones, the whole idea of trying to juggle devices and have your settings and data someplace you’re not is becoming more important,” Parker told Mashable. “When you look at what’s out there now, there are certainly already remote-control software and things like that. But we take it beyond that to essentially recreate what’s on your computer.”
Parker has successfully worked in technology since 1996, but he’s taking his latest project to what may seem like an unlikely place for a sophisticated hardware device — Kickstarter. He has a working Compude prototype, has consulted with government security experts and has taken out three patents. Now he’s looking to the online community to help raise $50,000 over the next two months to build more devices and help gain increased traction.
Most commonly associated with artsy pursuits and offbeat or esoteric campaigns, Parker believes Kickstarter also has a built-in set of advantages for entrepreneurs in tech hardware, which bootstrapping and pitching investors don’t offer.
“It’s a really great way to get access to early adopters and have them be the first to see the next device beyond the prototype,” he says. “Even just putting it up on Kickstarter [two days ago] I’ve had emails from three people saying they’d like to be a private investor in this.”
But media attention on tech entrepreneurs is increasing and recent government moves are beefing up opportunities for startups. Parker says those changes are two reasons he’s turning investors away to keep Compude community-oriented, at least for the time being.
One more Kickstarter advantage? No need to keep Compude secret until it’s ready for market.
“If it wasn’t for Kickstarter, I would basically be building the product all the way, then coming out with it,” Parker says. “If it wasn’t for Kickstarter, I wouldn’t even be talking about this right now.”
Do you think Kickstarter is a smart route to take for entrepreneurs like Parker who are building complex hardware devices? Let us know in the comments.
Posted by Janine E. Mooney, Editor
March 29, 2012