Interview: Carnegie Mellon Professor Ari Lightman On How Students Are Empowered By Learning To Use Brandwatch Consumer Research
By Kara FinnertyJun 10
Twittr, Flickr and Tumblr ar jst som of the biggst abbrevitd web hits in recnt yrs.
We might change our name to Brandwtch. Get rid of just one letter and you’re well on your way to a developing a site destined for success. Don’t worry, you can change it back again later, like Twitter did. Another great example is the rising internet darling Kickstarter, which also began with the vowel-light name of Kickstartr.
With a name like that then, the writing was on the wall for the startup to achieve huge success.
Like Wikipedia, Kickstarter is the sort of site you’d include in a pitch to the 1980s if you were trying to sell them the internet.
At its most fundamental level, the site is a fundraising tool for entrepreneurs, inventors and just about anyone that needs financing. Any user can create their own page, upon which they can host a video, upload pictures and write text to try and explain why their idea is most worthy of investment from others.
They’ll state the total required and the various rewards associated with different pledge amount, and the site (via Amazon) will help track the effort and co-ordinate the whole affair.
The site has grown in notoriety hugely over the past few months, and since the beginning of this year has accumulated over 280,000 mentions across social media sites, a statistic we gathered using our social media monitoring tool.
The graph shows how the site has grown in popularity (it plots number of mentions each week) since January, though after the hype of the Pebble watch in May, Kickstarter’s buzz has stabilised somewhat. The following graph also illustrates how individual projects drive the popularity of the site.
It’s received large boosts in attention thanks to high profile projects funded through Kickstarter, some of which have in turn further promoted the site through the excellent Kicking it Forward campaign, in which successful fundraisers pledge 5% of their fund to other Kickstarter projects.
Here at Brandwatch, we not long ago were the recipients of a $6m investment. This was carried out through traditional venture capitalism and it may seem ridiculous to consider Kickstarter as a viable alternative.
Not so. Here are a few examples of ideas that have been the beneficiaries of significant investment through Kickstarter. It’s also important to note that the New York-based company will be keeping around 10% of the money raised, to be split with their partners Amazon.
The Pebble Watch
If the $10m raised through the site to help produce this watch wasn’t impressive enough, then the $5m that was raised in just the first week will surely sway the unconvinced.
The Pebble watch synchronises with the user’s smartphone to relay messages, apps and other flashy gizmos straight to the lucky owner’s wrist.
Double Fine Adventure
Game industry celebrity Tim Schafer is never far from the spotlight in gaming, and gaming is never far from the cutting edge of internet technologies, memes and tropes so it was all but inevitable that the first big project to put Kickstarter on the map would be a game developer.
Double Fine, the makers of the cult hits Psychonauts and Brutal Legend, harnessed the purchasing power of their fanbase to pull together a then-record amount of $3.4m to help fund their next project, the nostalgia-inspired Double Fine Adventure.
While 3D printers have existed for some time, they’ve never been realistically commercially available to the consumer market.
One man set out to change that, and fashioned his own prototype printer capable of physically building anything you care to name, straight out of science fiction. And of course, he’s also continued the theme of success/vowel-removal like we talked about earlier.
The project soon raised $830k, which is more impressive when you consider that this was in 2011, before Kickstarter really got going.
It’s yet another technology that the gamers and the geeks have championed (all ten of the top-funded projects are gadgety, gamey or otherwise geeky), and it seems that only now it has begun to filter into the mainstream.
It’s no longer about just comic books and revivals of much-loved franchises, the site is now littered with artworks, indie films and other interesting ideas.
The final great thing about Kickstarter is the open narrative inherent in the site. The news, the ideas, the drama: it all unfolds in front of everyone. With no legal grounding for refunds, follow-through of work or other deliverables, half the fun is simply watching to see how a project progresses.
It’s also great to have the investors so closely involved with these ideas from such an early stage, and dozens of the successful bids end up taking advice and suggestions straight from the fanbase.
So perhaps next time we need some money to expand to the moon, or wherever else our ambition takes us next, we may just consider this fascinating little platform to generate some more space bucks.