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Hot Topic Reporting season
Hot Topic Reporting season
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Another Kiwi company successfully taps US crowd-funding site Kickstarter


Money rolls in from micro-backers. UPDATED:  Fund-raising goal beaten inside a week.

Thu, 03 May 2012

UPDATE MAY 3: When I first talked to the guys at Syrp on Tuesday night, they had raised $42,000 in five days on Kickstarter. By Wednesday morning, that had jumped to $79. Now (Thursday morning), it's taken another leap, to $US155,875 - beating their 60-day goal of $150,000 in inside a week [UPDATE: by the weekend it had reached $US226,000].

"We've had an amazing last 24 hours. We're blown away," Syrp co-founder Ben Ryan told NBR ONLINE.

Now for the hard part - manufacturing the product. How are things going on that front?

"We have two working prototypes and another one will be ordered soon with some minor changes," Mr Ryan said.

"Manufacturing quotes are issued and we've visited the factories [in Asia and Australia] we are working with and we're likely revisit them in the next couple of weeks.

"Kickstarter pledges cover the manufacturing costs but we won't make a direct profit or break even on previous research and development investment. The whole kickstarter campaign enables us to get over the hurdle of manufacturing and tooling for the first production run as well as marketing?"

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MAY 2: It remains to be seen whether crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter are a passing fad - or at least if it will become to hard to stand-out as more and more jump fund-seekers pile in (and already we've seen the first hysteria story over an allegedly fake auction, despite the power of community ratings, and Kickstarter rejecting nearly half of those who apply to list).

But for the moment, a few NZ contenders are having a golden run with the service, which lets you solicit micro-donations from hundreds, or thousands, of backers (usually in return for getting your product at a cut price).

I've previously written about Kiwi film-maker Taika Waiti using Kickstarter to help bankroll the US release of Boy with $US90,000 raised from 1284 micro-backers (including $US20 from NBR - hey, it all adds up).

And Wellington game developer Sidhe, which is eyeing the success of others in its field, and weighing a run [UPDATE: This morning Sidhe boss Mario Wynands told NBR ONLINE, "We are currently looking at the tax implications of the process given funds may have to be routed through a US third party, and will be using that to inform our decision." Kickstarter is restricted to US residents, more on which below].

One inspiration for Sidhe is another NZ developer, Grinding Gear Games, which raised $US200,000 via pre-sale focused crowd-funding. A couple of US-based game studios have raised millions.

Now I've heard from Queenstown entrepreneurs Ben Ryan (a cinematographer) and Chris Thomson (a designer), who've formed a company called Syrp and started a Kickstarter campaign to promote a product called the 'Genie.'

"It's used primarily for motion control time lapses in either panning or linear direction, the device can be integrated with all your existing equipment as well as DIY projects which we believe will open up a new wave of creativity for time lapse photography," explaned Mr Ryan.

"It's also been designed to be extremely easy to use so theres no need to be an expert which I believe puts it into a different category than a lot of other products out there."

There's more info, and a video, on Syrp's Kickstarter page.

$US79,000 in six days
"We've had an incredible response so far and have received $US42,000 in funding over five days," Mr Ryan said last night.

This morning, less than 12 hours later, I see that's shot up to $US79,468.

The company is aiming to raise $US150,000 with its 60-day campaign.

As I type, there are 154 backers (as with any Kickstarter project, their pledges will only be charged to their credit cards, via Amazon Payments, if the Genie gets fully-funded. Kickstarter makes no guarantees on any given company's ability to deliver).

Most have gone for a $US590 or $US690 pledge, which earns a photography buff a $US300 or $US500 discount off the Genie's retail price once the product goes into production (discounts on a product, once release, are perhaps the most popular incentive for Kickstarter funders).

There are also other perks, such as T-shirts, and getting your name on the side of the Genie. If a retailer kicks in $US10,000, they get 20 units (which works out ot half the retail price per unit of $US999; so far there are no takers).

US only
How did Mssrs Ryan and Thomson get around Kickstarter's US residents-only policy? (The site says it hopes to allow international projects to be posted shortly, but for the moment its Amazon Payments-based system renders the option impractical).

"It was a mission. We had to work with a US citizen to get around this but finally got the all-clear after a lot of going around in circles," Mr Ryan told NBR Online.

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Another Kiwi company successfully taps US crowd-funding site Kickstarter
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