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How to Crowdfund Your Hardware Start-up

Sites like Kickstarter can boost a start-up—or expose critical flaws

4 min read
How to Crowdfund Your Hardware Start-up
llustration: Erik Vrielink

opening illustration for geek life crowdfundingIllustration: Erik Vrielink

Crowdfunding—collecting money from a bunch of people to fund a project—has in the last few years gone from “doable but tough” to “so easy we can’t remember how we lived before,” thanks to sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Particular beneficiaries of the new era are those wanting to make physical devices, who have often struggled for funding because of the higher risk and capital requirements of hardware development over software. “Crowdfunding validates the product-market fit early in the development cycle, before you’ve spent millions of dollars creating something nobody wants,” says Scott Miller, CEO and cofounder of Dragon Innovation, in Cambridge, Mass., which offers certification and manufacturing expertise. “It provides the capital essential for buying the tools and inventory. And it’s the most efficient form of marketing: It creates an informed community who then evangelizes,” says Miller.

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Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

His pivot from defense helped a tiny tuning-fork prevent SUV rollovers and plane crashes

11 min read
Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

In 1992, Asad M. Madni sat at the helm of BEI Sensors and Controls, overseeing a product line that included a variety of sensor and inertial-navigation devices, but its customers were less varied—mainly, the aerospace and defense electronics industries.

And he had a problem.

The Cold War had ended, crashing the U.S. defense industry. And business wasn’t going to come back anytime soon. BEI needed to identify and capture new customers—and quickly.

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