DIY Manufacturing

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In 2010 the TikTok made headlines when it pre-sold nearly a million dollars worth of iPod watchbands directly to the public. In a world of Apple, Google, and Microsoft, how could some guy in Chicago do such a thing? The breakout success brought a wave of designers and first-time manufacturers to Kickstarter in 2011.

Typically product design is a corporate-dominated market, but Kickstarter products were made by real people we met in homemade videos. In project updates they shared the thrills of achievement and the headaches of learning-as-you-go. Backing a product was as much an experience as it was making a purchase. The process was part of the reward.

When product design was a hit, it was a hit — more than 30 product design projects raised six figures in 2011. Coffee lovers marveled at the Coffee Joulies. Filmmakers rallied around CineSkates. The Camera Capture Clip found support from thousands of photographers. The Revolights and TiGr were hits with bicyclists. The PadPivot landed in Best Buy. Windowfarms made anyone an urban farmer.

Designers with off-beat products also made an impact. There were wooden desktop trebuchets, a three-stringed guitar, and an annual clock. People backed jellyfish tanks, imaginary marching bands, physical GIFs, LPs lasercut into 3D dinosaur puzzles, and an alert system for the International Space Station. The Design category was anything but predictable.

At the core of Design were the makers. They made stuff so other people could make stuff, whether it was an arduino mod for game designers, a modular system for solar-powered electronics, a 3D printer, or the irresistible Twine. Their projects turned backers into creators.

Projects turned backers into manufacturers, too. They commissioned thousands of Cosmonauts, HexBrights, and Elevation Docks from manufacturers in the US and around the world. Their pledges reopened factories and launched small businesses along the way. In 2011, “mass-production” didn’t just describe the assembly line’s output. It described how the crowd made it happen, too.

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      Jono Garton on

      Nice summary but links to things aren't NEARLY as much fun as little pictures of the things themselves I reckon

    2. Joe Whiteside on

      I'm so excited about Kickstarter! It's the perfect playing field for creatives to make their imagination reality. I'm currently working on my first Kickstarter campaign. I love reading the success stories because it inspires as well as teaches. Much success to Kickstarter in the coming years.

      Joe W.

    3. ann sprayregen on

      glad to have been a little part of all this.... Ann s.

    4. Laroi Jackson Sr on

      ...crawl,walk,run,fly,sour,orbit !!!!!

    5. kim jaesung on

      한국에도 이렇게 활성화된 공간이 있으면 하는 생각을 합니다.

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      deleted on

      This user's account has been deleted.

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      Stephen Resta on

      In what has been a difficult period for our economy Kickstarter has re-kindled the "American Dream"
      Steve Resta

    8. steven chayer on

      I've contributed to two ideas in 2011 The Art of the Patent by Kevin Prince and the Sam Grdon's Oona! Totally satisfied with both products too. Next month I'll re-submit a brand new product (never before invented), one that KickStarter rejected as a concept in 2010 but that I went and invented anyway. Now it is nearly complete and very favorably received in early market testing. With any luck I'll convince the KickStarter team to feature it and give it the kick start it needs.

    9. Gregory Francis on

      I honestly believe that the platform you have created with Kickstarter is the solution to our economic problems, and many social and environmental problems associated with 'blindly' inventing in mutual funds and the like. I love that the people decide who and what to support. Thank you Kickstarter, please keep growing and spreading around the world!

    10. Gregory Francis on

      *investing (inventing is on my brain it seems)

    11. David Leith on

      Greg, I have to disagree. Look at Steven's comment. I think Kickstarter has been much too focused on Design and not enough on innovation. You see plenty of products where people are taking commonplace items and customizing them in colors or finishes. But I have heard from a number of people (and it was my own experience) that truly innovative products that don't involve design or Arduino or 3D printing are being turned down as "inappropriate". Crowd-funding is something that could really propel invention and innovation - it's a shame that Kickstarter is discouraging it (despite what they say here). No design, no love.

    12. Jae Son @ GoSmart on

      It is amazing the successes people are having through kickstarter, and I love the great ideas and products that are being funded through it. Creating something that is innovative takes not only money, but time and lots of hard work. 1% inspiration - 99% persipriation. Even the very successfully projects such as the a-pen and the cosmonaut has had a really tough time delivering on the goods after being funded so it is appropriate for Kickstarter to limit projects that are not fully developed. What I am learning from Kickstarter is that clear message and promotion is perhaps even more important than the idea or the project for it to be realized.

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      Bert on

      Kickstarter AWESOME platfomr to place your idea or designe out to the market.

      Well done to the creaters.

    14. John Loughlin on

      Thank you Kickstarter!

    15. xoxo on

      Wow! More jobs in a failing economy? Doesn't get any better than that. If a site like did not exist, how would they have been able to do it?

    16. Shweta Dehariya on

      kickstarter very good plateform where we can place our idea's

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    18. Richard Ortiz on

      As I was searching for a helping hand was there to guide my idea into a new marketplace and pull me out of a deep pit i was in and gave me light to express my ideas show the world that we have options. Kickstarter has open my door in inventing a Hybrid System that turns a 1967 Chevy into a fuel saving Hybrid. I am saving old used cars from the Junk Yard, but I need your help project stopped due to lack of funding I am almost there need a bit more time to test the engine and drive it to California with news coverage and KickStarter as my Sponsor. wow thanks for your support on American Inventors like myself to create jobs right here in the USA. ''Ask not what your country can do for you'', Ask what you can do for your country''. Thank you

    19. Mark Nowotarski on

      @David Leath,

      There have been a number of pure innovation projects on Kickstarter. See +pool for an example. The key, I think, to getting Kickstarter buy in, and then backer buy in, is a compelling vision and meaningful ways for backers to be part of the effort. Think of the vision as your "design".

    20. Audrey Storch on

      I invented my first product in 1998 and with no knowledge of manufacturing overseas or the gift/toy industry I brought my product to market Oct. 1999. Exhibiting at trade shows that cost $5000.0 EACH plus flights, hotel etc soon added up to $80K year NET. Using our home for loans and after 911 and Enron, and economy going down so fast it has been a crazy ride. I was on QVC for 3 yrs AND HSN for 2 yrs with my 2nd invention. As I read everyone's comments and projects it is very clear that the statistics of 99% failing within 5 years for numerous reasons are obvious. First manufacturing. You MUST have a viable FINISHED prototype that you know the pricing on and that actually works. If you cannot meet delivery and quantities don't bother even starting to go to buyers. You get ONE chance with them. I have sold in the Fashion Industry, Credit, Market Research, Theatre, TV and other jobs which all helped me tremendously with my company. The consultants I interviewed to help me manufacture were all sitting in very expensive offices but none of them were at the shows like myself or actually in factories in China, Korea or India and wanted 5 figures just to start! And this was 14 years ago. Since I received over 100 articles on my product and myself, commercials given to us on WABC-TV for a year and on 106.7 Lite-FM twice and NY times just to name some I was getting hundreds of inquiries on advice on how I turned my idea into a successful sellable product in one year and grew. I started small amounts ($500.00 for two hours but gave many hours extra)just enough not to waste my time but enough to see if they just wanted to meet me because I was on Rosie. I have been so happy to help companies already in existence but not able to make the profits to keep gojng and to get to the next level and start ups, some with just an idea and others further along. Some with IP some not. I can tell you the money needed not only for your patents trademarks etc is alot but DEFENDING them starts at $50 to $100,000 deposit! You WILL be knocked off, and many times. I give my clients factories that can make a great product at a great price, buyers name and numbers who are right for them. What pricing they must be at for wholesale, retail, premium and so much more. It blows my mind that over 90% who come to me do not know most of this. And lets speak of Social Media and websites-omg I cannot believe the mistakes made. I have saved almost every client (I do not accept many) alot of money and work within the first hour alone. I have taken some to China and moved production schedule up by 8 MONTHS which meant they could accept the orders they were turning down due to low production where they were and low profit margins. Out of all only one client did not rehire me. They also did not even make the 3 year mark in business. I am just trying to tell all of you focus on whether your idea is manufacturable, and if so at a price that is sellable. and at a profit margin you can be in business now and in the future with. Learn what margins you need now and 5 years from now. Will the product support that price? What are the CSPSC rules on your product here and in EUROPE. The testing is very strict in UK and other countries. Patent lawyers are unfortunately rarely anywhere as good as promoted. 14 years later, interviewed over 45 and hired 7 and would not recommend a single one. I finally do have one that is all I wish for. I sure wish I had found him 14 years ago as the others cost me alot. Research EVERYTHING. Do NOT take anyone's words for it. Make ANYONE you disciss/show your product to sign a confidentiality agreement. Plan for the worst but hope for the best. This has saved me everytime! Credit-most go out of business in the first 5 years due to not able to collect receivables. I have lost $39.00 in 14 years. I worked in credit and with street smarts and investigating ALL even big ones I sold like FAO SHWARTZ and JACOBSONS I turned FAO down on their reorder as I knew they were over extended. Do not get impressed by the name or size. Bigger just means more money you lose! Use people you can trust. Hire people like me. Honestly you won't find someone else like me for this pricing but join networking clubs. Women and minorities get WBE, SBE, AND MBE certified. If you do not know what this means again learn.
      There is a fantastic book out you can get at with 71 (yes I am one but is is fantastic help)authors of successful business's. Called Big Bold Business Advice from New Jersey Women Business Owners. Published by Woodpecker Press and I know it will help almost all posted that I have read and almost all who have a project listed. I am just trying to show you the real world after the rose color glasses come off and the money is all gone. If you do the real work and research required you will have a better chance of succeeding. I truly wish you all the success I have had and more.
      Audrey L. Storch-HUGGS TO GO LLC

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      josts on


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    26. Movers Marathahalli on

      I am very much pleased with the contents you have mentioned. I wanted to thank you for this great article. -

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