Last week, Crowd Supply’s CEO Josh Lifton gave our first public webinar on how crowdfunding and open source are enabling new products to come to life that otherwise never might have been.
Building on his academic background in distributed sensor networks, Lifton discussed how open source and crowdfunding are likely to be key drivers in developing the Internet of Things, and how the combination of the two can lead to unique, otherwise “impossible” product development in many areas.
According to Lifton, compared to something like food, which has all sorts of marketing, social cues, and certifications so that we know its provenance and composition, consumer electronics are much more opaque with regard to user rights and ownership. In some sense, a product like a laptop doesn’t even actually belong to the consumer. Even when technically legal, large entities like corporations and governments build in data gathering tools that constantly erode user rights to privacy and ownership.
Lifton contrasts this to a product like the Librem laptop from Purism. This hardware was crowdfunded on Crowd Supply and built with the explicit goal of protecting user rights. This could not happen with VC or traditional corporate development models. There is no incentive for VC’s or corporations to pursue such goals. Lifton discusses two other examples of complex, powerful products that could not have come to be without the combination of crowdsourcing and Open Source.
Responding to audience questions, Lifton further examines some examples of ways traditional, corporate products have been disabled or downgraded to the detriment of consumers who purchased them. He contrasts this with the need for open, accessible manufacturing, sales, and marketing resources, a role that Crowd Supply fills.
If you look at the diverse projects that succeed on Crowd Supply, Lifton points out, they have some things in common. Most obviously they are all physical, manufactured goods. Second of all they are carefully vetted to ensure there are sound fundamentals in terms of both experience and development/manufacturing plans. Thirdly, they share some philosophical underpinnings: connection to a community, user empowerment, and user rights. Lifton discusses examples of projects that illustrate this philosophy. He then goes on to discuss how and why these projects have been successful according to clear and specific metrics such as meeting funding goals, shipping product, etc.
Tune-in to get the details as well as a sneak peek at some other new and recent projects at Crowd Supply that exemplify the way crowdfunding and Open Source can create “impossible” products.
*Image credit: Novena by Andrew 'bunnie' Huang and Sean 'xobs' Cross
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