A Langford resident is among the first onboard Kickstarter in its second month in Canada.
Kevin Larsen, a father of two, mechanical engineer and now president of Uberwatcher Technologies Inc., is using the online crowd sourcing platform in the hopes of getting his new baby monitor product, Uberwatcher, off the ground.
When Larsen and his wife Joann had their first child about two years ago, the proud parents decided to buy smartphones in order to make staying in touch easier. With all the different apps available they figured it would be simple to find a portable baby monitor product that could be integrated with their iPhones.
To their surprise, the search turned up fruitless.
“There wasn’t anything there that was portable,” Larsen said. “We searched and searched and then it was ‘OK, maybe there’s nothing out there yet, let’s see if it’s possible to do it.’”
Working with a friend in the computer industry, Larsen came up with a basic design and a wish list of functions and the two got to work. Camosun College printed a rudimentary model of the design on a 3-D printer, to give a better sense of the final product.
Then they started forging contacts with manufacturers, including one in China that turned out to be ideal. Now Larsen has a few prototypes to take around, use himself and take to baby fairs to gauge the response.
“Overwhelming response,” Larsen said. “There were people who wanted to buy it on the spot. Everybody loved it, they loved the idea, the concept, the portability. So that was great.”
Next came the hard part: the search for investors.
Larsen’s need for funding happened to coincide with Kickstarter launching in Canada on Sept. 9.
Kickstarter allows people from writers to filmmakers to inventors, to fund projects through the kindness of many. Instead of looking for one or two major investors, the site allows average people to pledge as little a $1 to a project. Each project sets a funding goal and a time limit. If the goal is met by the time limit, the creator gets the money; if it isn’t, all those who pledged get their money back.
“There was rumour that they were coming to Canada and as soon as they did, we jumped on that boat,” Larsen said. “They’re a fabulous site for getting good exposure for good projects.”
According to Kickstarter, since U.S. site launched in 2009, 5.9 million people have pledged $886 million to 52,000 projects. The site funded such products as the iPhone dock, numerous video games and a watch that displays messages from an iPhone that raised over $10 million on the site.
Larsen’s goal is to raise $89,000 by Dec. 29. As of Monday (Nov. 25) $2,567 had been pledged by 26 backers.
If the goal is met, the money will be used to order an initial production of 1,000 Uberwatchers to sell.
“Obviously if it took off, that would be fabulous,” Larsen said. “I want to get it out there for other parents too, because we fought with the mirror on the back seat (of the car to see the baby while driving).”
Learn more at kickstart.uberwatcher.com.