Online hasn’t just changed retail, it’s also revolutionised the back end of the bicycle business, taking start ups into production and introducing them to the mass market through crowd funding. BikeBiz speaks with market leader Kickstarter and examines the phenomenon…
Kickstarter was six years old in April. The New York-headquartered company, the best known of the crowd funding sites, offers punters chance to pledge funds, usually in return for goods, services or insights, to get projects off the ground. Last year 22,252 projects came through Kickstarter.com and over half a billion dollars were pledged. It has raised funds for everything from saving a local taco joint to sending a pizza into space and hoverboards – and it’s surely only a matter of time before a bike shop turns to crowd funding to stay in business.
Bicycles is one of the areas where Kickstarter has resonated, taking plenty of bike projects and pipe dreams and either taking them into production and winning them deals with the likes of Madison or Chain Reaction Cycles (see below), or simply leaving them high and dry and sending the designers back to the proverbial drawing board.
It is testament to the sheer number of two-wheeled projects launching through the site that Kickstarter’s homepage more often than not has a bike project on it.
But just how much has been raised for bike projects? BikeBiz asked the Kickstarter team for some statistics. While they don’t have a way to look only at bicycle projects, the firm did tell us that there have been 1,738 projects launched with ‘bike’ or ‘bicycle’ in their name, including those that reached their funding goals and those that didn’t. A staggering $32,323,124 has been pledged to those projects.
Kickstarter broke things down further for us, revealing that UK ‘bike’ and ‘bicycle’ projects totaled 136. Those projects shared a mighty $1,655,380 pledges, approximately £1,068,056.
While those stats do have to be taken with a grain of salt they’re nonetheless impressive – and growing. Just why have bicycle-related projects been so successful using Kickstarter?
A spokesman for the firm told BikeBiz: “Kickstarter has helped give rise to an infrastructure that allows for small-batch manufacturing. You can use Kickstarter to gauge demand, then have 300 of something made, instead of the factory forcing you to do a run of 100,000. These products are reflecting innovation in areas like batteries, LEDs and lightweight frame materials, etc.”
The cycle world’s interest in new tech and innovation naturally lends itself to smaller upstart companies, exactly the kind that would use crowd funding: “Creators on Kickstarter are able to innovate and experiment more easily than the big companies. We like to say that you can come to Kickstarter and see the future now. The technologies that will be mainstream in a few years are bubbling up on Kickstarter today.
“Bike nuts seem to have an appetite for new and interesting gear, and they’ve discovered that Kickstarter is a good place to discover and support it!”
It’s worth noting that Kickstarter takes a cut of the total funds raised – five per cent of successfully (or fully) funded projects, according to the small print. But it’s hard to imagine that will be enough to put off those thinking about using the site to launch their bike project, side-stepping the need to pitch to individual companies for funds and backing. The only foreseeable difficulty will be how to stand out from the increasingly crowded crowd-funding scene.
Clug bike storage clip
Smashed $32,000 target with $107,947 pledges. Now in mass production and available in 15 countries. Distributed through BLB Bigmama in the UK.
This smartphone mounting solution launched on Kickstarter in 2011 and more than doubled its $20,000 target. It has since been snapped up by Madison which now takes it to UK and Ireland dealers.
Cycling Party, cycling strategy board game
We kid you not, this Spanish project had a $5,000 goal and $26,886 pledged.
Innovation Lab favourite See.Sense is now being retailed at fellow Northern Irish firm Chain Reaction Cycles. It launched on Kickstarter where it drew in £33,826 of pledges. It was aiming for £12,000.
This British-devised auto balance bike aimed for $100,000 but nearly doubled it at $185,818, passing its target after only six days.
The innovative bike lights more than doubled their £25,000 goal and garnered press coverage with everyone from BikeRadar to The Telegraph in the process.
The recoiling mudguard hit $56,295, smashing its more modest $18,000 goal.
Roads were not built for cars
Our own Carlton Reid launched his book on Kickstarter, which reached its £4,000 target with 29 days still left to run.