Products > Crowd Funded Projects

Easy IoT project


Ivan Donev:
Hi guys,

Do you think it's worth trying to crowdfund a project, which promises easy visual creation of smart/iot/electronic devices?
If so, what would be the best path to do it?

There's already a working implementation released, so it's not just a floating idea, however it's all the work of one person so far and it needs more hands and professional touch to become appealing for the general public.

I'm afraid though, that it's a niche and there might be too little a crowd to fund it.

The thing itself, although still rudimental, is published here:

That's an interesting project. When you say there is one person involved, presumably that's you?

What would you expect from crowd funding? That is, someone supplies some funds and in return they get... ? You say it is open source, and free, so anyone could use this without donating at all, couldn't they?

One source of funds might be to sell the project hardware. Someone creates a project and selects the parts, then they nip into the shop and buy the PCB and components. For a bit more perhaps an assembled thing, which they can then push the firmware to. But that wouldn't be a crowd funder.

Perhaps the Arduino thing might be the way to go: the software and stuff is open source so anyone can contribute (your job might be to filter out the rubbish and apply the good contributions), and money is made from the hardware even though that's open source too. Makers at this kind of level wouldn't be into getting 5 off from JLCPCB and soldering hard to see parts to the PCBs, etc, so even though they could notionally do all this themselves they would prefer to just buy the kit. But, of course, someone else could make the kits and undercut you...

Ivan Donev:
Hey, thanks for the feedback and the ideas, much appreciated!

My main goal is to keep evolving the project.
Ideally, I'd prefer it to be free and accessible for non-commercial use, which leaves room for monetization with commercial use.
At this stage though, it needs more people working on it, which calls for a source of funding.

For crowdfunding, some benefits for contributors could be

* To be credited
* To get account features/preferences
* To get hardware kitsBut would that be attractive enough? And how to bring it to potential contributor's ears in the first place?
Are there services that build you a crowdfunding campaign, say for a part of the funds?

I'm also pondering undecidedly about angel investors, venture capitals and collaboration with established companies.

The store? I think it might actually work, but wouldn't that move the focus from the project to logistics and trade?
I've thought about a store (thus the "under construction" store page on the site) but more as an auxilliary side-part of it.
I guess you may be right though. As you say, it's open source (currently) - same as Arduino and they've chosen to sell hardware.

I don't think you will crowd fund enough to employ people to work on this though the goodness of their hearts. Commercial backing would need a defined pay-off down the line, and I'm not sure you can show that even if you don't open source it. Thinking about it, I quite like the idea of selling the hardware, perhaps already programmed from a project, which makes it really simple to create your own IoT thing. But that has issues too: form factor for, say, lights isn't going to work for plug-in sockets, so you will need a variety of packages.

The other thing is the phone app. That's pretty good (for many people getting into embedded stuff, a phone app is really tricky) but also something of a block. The device needs to work with Alexa and the like, and it would also benefit from working with the likes of Tuya (Smart Life app). I think most people have now realised a separate app for every IoT device they have is a drag, so making it work with the big  boys' apps is an instant plus.

One thing you might consider is a kind of sponsorship. The firewall/router pfSense used to use this before it got bought out. So far as I remember the way it worked was in one of two ways:

1. If you wanted a particular feature you'd offer some amount of money (or kit) to have it implemented.

2. A feature might have a price put on it by a developer.

In either case, there would be a fund and users could donate as much or little as they liked, and once the target amount was reached the feature would be implemented and the dev would get the dosh. Normal stuff would still be done, but that would be the dev implementing what they wanted to, whereas the sponsorship thing persuaded them to implement a specific feature they otherwise wouldn't be in a rush to do. It worked too: I sponsored a couple of features, which got done and everyone was happy.


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