This year, we’ve done our best to keep you informed of some of the cooler up-and-coming businesses, musicians and projects seeking crowdfunding on Kickstarter. Now it’s time to release our choices for the best Boston-area Kickstarters of 2014. And, since we could only pick a limited number, we made a chart of the top-funded tech projects on Kickstarter as well.
The highest amount of money raised for a Kickstarter in 2014 was $1 million for the the Blink Wire-Free HD Home Monitoring and Alert System. (The least raised was $10 for some girl wanting funding to make herself a pasta salad.) Music was the most popular category, with 95 successfully funded Kickstarters, and journalism was the least popular category, with only one successful campaign.
The team that brought you Lumen, the bluetooth-enabled smart bulb, launched a Kickstarter on March 12 for funds to produce the bulb in smaller, more varied sizes. The basic idea behind the Lumen is simple: use the bluetooth connection and app to turn the Lumen bulb on or off. But because the bulb has a set of RGB LED inside, the light generates millions of colors and you can change the lighting with your mood. With the app, you can set the lights to gradually wake you up in the morning, turn off when you leave a room, or rapidly change colors when you receive a call.
Kevin So, the founder and CEO of Tabu Products, decided to Kickstart LuMini when he realized that the standard-size Lumen bulb didn’t fit in a lot of lamps. So he decided to create a series of smaller bulbs to fit in E14, E27, E26, and E12 sockets. These would also be slightly cheaper, so the people who wanted to try out smart bulbs could do it for a cheaper price.
Initially, So launched a Kickstarter with a goal of raising enough money to finance the creation of all the new model sizes – $50,000. When that only raised $21,424 in February, he cancelled the project and launched a new campaign in March with less ambitious goals. Instead of a one-time $50,000 goal, the new Kickstarter had an initial goal of $25,000 to make E26 and E27 bulbs and stretch goals of $37,oo0 and $50,000 to make E14 and E12 bulbs. Ironically, this time, the Kickstarter got 1,171 backers, raising $76,239 by the time it ended on April 1.
Lumen recently finished production of LuMini, mailing out bulbs to backers in late October. Their other products include Lumen Strips, long strip-light lights; and the Lumen eye, a light-bulb shaped mirrored lamp with the same bluetooth technology as the bulbs.
We picked the CoffeeBar for a spot on this list before its Kickstarter campaign was even over. We first interviewed the creators of the coffee-infused energy and breakfast bar in September, barely a week after the campaign had launched. At the time, CoffeeBar had yet to raise $25,000. By the time it ended on Nov. 6, the total amount raised was $44,109, more than four times the initial $10,000 goal.
Northeastern University students Ali Kothari and Johnny Fayad started their company, New Grounds Food, out of their freshman dorm room. On the Kickstarter page, Kothari and Fayad wrote, “We were tired of waking up for our 8am financial accounting class without having time for breakfast or coffee. We wanted a simple healthy way to get energy on the go, without sacrificing nutrition.”
Out of that desire was born the CoffeeBar, an all-natural, gluten-free, soy-free, vegan energy bar infused with expresso. The bar contains 102 mg of caffeine, which is roughly equivalent to that of an average cup of coffee. Currently, the CoffeeBar only comes in one flavor – Mocha Latte. One bar has 240 calories and contain cashews, almond butter, expresso, vegan and gluten-free chocolate chips, cinnamon, gluten-free oats, chia seeds and dates.
New Grounds Food was the Audience Favorite Winner at Northeastern’s 2013 Husky Startup Challenge and Fayad and Kothari were subsequently accepted into IDEA, Northeastern’s Venture Accelerator, earning $10,000 in grant funding. With that money, they perfected the product and found suppliers and a manufacturer. They made sure to source fair-trade coffee and to keep production in the United States.
On Sept. 22, the pair launched the Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for packaging for the coffee bars. After $10,000 goal for packaging funds was met, Kothari and Fayad established a $25,000 stretch goal to partner with Project Alianza in order to buy coffee directly from coffee-farming families. The 1,103 backers ultimately almost doubled this goal.
According to the Kickstarter page, the estimated shipping date for the first batch of CoffeeBars is in December. So, if you’re interested in trying to “eat your coffee”, check out New Grounds Food’s website to order their first product!
Box Brew Kits (formerly HopBox)— Handcrafted Brewing Kits
Back when we reported on this Kickstarter in May, it hadn’t even raised $100,000 yet. A couple weeks later, when the campaign ended on May 31, it had raised $158,877, several times the $45,000 project creator Michael Langone was seeking. It’s not a big surprise why the project was so successful: HopBox (or “Box Brew Kits,” as it’s now called, due to a legal dispute with another company) is a good-looking, easy home brewing kit, with all the ingredients and supplies included.
Each Box is crafted by hand based on a design by Langone, whose shop was in Somerville (the operation has since moved to Waltham). Box Brew Kits offers four different models of brewing kit, able to brew 1 to 3 gallons (or 10 to 30 beers) at a time. Kits include a base (you can choose rustic pine or reclaimed wood), a hydrometer, an auto-siphon, a funnel, a rubber stopper, a plastic airlock, a thermometer, tubing to siphon the beer, and a jar for priming sugar. Each box also comes with instructions and a recipe book.
The whole design was already perfected by Langone and his partner, Matt Gorman, before the Kickstarter launched on May 1. The $45,000 goal was in order to move to a bigger workshop, enabling production and shipping to be housed under one roof. The Kickstarter also raised money for supplies and to hire additional personnel. Langone shipped out backer prizes – including glasses, bottles, and home brewing kits – in September. Along with the rebranding of Hop Box to Box Brew Kits, and launched a campaign on Reddit to create a “crowdsourced” beer recipe – which, unsurprisingly, didn’t turn out too well.
Here are the 10 top-raising Kickstarter projects in tech from Massachusetts this year:
|Company||Amount||Percentage of Goal||Link|
|Blink: Wire-Free HD Home Monitoring & Alert System||$1,069,386||535%||Kickstarter Page|
|Bringrr – Helping You Keep Track of What Matters Most||$76,561||102%||Kickstarter Page|
|LuMini – A Simple Bluetooth Smart Bulb for Everyone||$76,239||305%||Kickstarter Page|
|BEDJET: Sleep better with ulta rapid bed heating and cooling||$58,551||154%||Kickstarter Page|
|Quitbit – The first smart lighter and app to track smoking||$55,287||111%||Kickstarter Page|
|Acoustic Stream: the Guitarist’s Wireless 4-in-1 Companion||$55,074||110%||Kickstarter Page|
|GoGlove: Life Has a Soundtrack. Control Yours.||$45,585||114%||Kickstarter Page|
|Smart Wallet: Locater & Charger a Fashionable Tech Accessory||$36,237||104%||Kickstarter Page|
|Radlicht – First Functional Side Lighting Solution!||$28,509||285%||Kickstarter Page|
Wondering which month to launch your Kickstarter next year? Well, try not to have it end in July, as that was the least popular month for successful funding this year, clocking in at only 17 funded projects. Instead, try April, which had 38 successful campaigns.
Some more interesting stats about Boston Kickstarters in 2014:
- Average Amount Raised: $17,799
- Total Amount Raised: $5,321,773
- Average Percent of Goal Met: 239 percent