Does Crowdfunding Make Sense for WebRTC?

January 12, 2015

No.

Now that I got that out of the system, let’s see when does it make sense.

In the past year or so, there have been several attempts to fund WebRTC related projects. Those that succeeded, had nothing really to do with WebRTC (besides using it). Those that failed focused on technology.

Crowdfunding, for those who missed this train, is a way for founders to raise money from the “masses”. A founder opens up a page on a crowdfunding site. States what it is he is trying to build, how much money he needs, and what is he willing to give for various amounts of money. People then pledge to put money on his project. If enough is raised, the project continues. If not enough is raised, nothing is done.

The most popular crowdfunding sites today are probably Kickstarter and Indiegogo. I have had my share of pledging on these platforms and even successes. Here’s my wife and I as part of the FoldableMe project:

201501-FoldableMe

But I digress.

Here are the projects I found on these two platforms related to WebRTC.

Ongoing Campaigns

GLIR-UP – Indiegogo

From the creator of Secretly Meet, this is an ongoing campaign that started recently. So far, it raised 0 out of the target 100,000 EUR sought after. The reason if you ask me?

Too much technology and little in explaining the user story and the benefits of using it.

It will be interesting to see how this develops until the end of the campaign – I wish Orfeo and his team all the best.

Successful Campaigns

Amaryllo – Indiegogo

Amaryllo is one of the few WebRTC webcams out there. It had the modest goal of raising $1,000 USD and got to $13,473. While a successful campaign, there are a few things here to note:

  1. It succeeded to raise more than any of the failed campaigns
  2. It had a very low target goal, suggesting the target was awareness and not raising money
  3. In the awareness side it isn’t a huge success, especially if you compare it to the other success stories here

Amaryllo – Kickstarter

Here’s something interesting – Amaryllo has a similar campaign on both Indiegogo and Kickstarter.

For Kickstarter, it has managed to raise almost $200,000 USD (with the same modest goal of $1,000 USD). And there are still over 2 weeks to go for this campaign.

Somehow, the crowds of Kickstarter are more open than the Indiegogo guys for a security camera project.

Rico – Kickstarter

Rico is a smarthome device based on a smartphone. Its only connection to WebRTC is the use of it as a communication medium for the device.

This project wanted $100,000 USD and got funding of $119,120 USD a few months ago.

It is an interesting gadget for the home, where WebRTC as marginal at best.

NoFlo – Kickstarter

NoFlo is a development environment. It is unfathomable for me how it managed to get over 1,000 backers to pledge $115,677 USD out of the requested $100,00 USD.

Its connection to WebRTC? Its intent on adding WebRTC support as part of the building blocks that can be used to create an app in its IDE. It was in one of the later updates on the platform – a lot after the project got funded.

Failed Campaigns

Snake – Indiegogo

A failed attempt of a campaign. In the beginning of 2014, tried to raise 50,021 EUR, succeeding to get backing for less than 1,000 EUR.

Essentially, it was about providing a similar service to what Secretly Meet already offers.

Unsene – Indiegogo

A failed attempt of a campaign. In 2013, tried to raise $30,000 USD. Succeeded getting backing of less than $6,000 USD.

A private chat service, as if we don’t have enough of these already out there using WebRTC.

Augmenting the web – Kickstarter

A failed attempt of a campaign. This one from BuildAR. Tried raising $48,000 USD and almost got backing of $9,000 USD.

An AR framework. Hard to sell to the crowds a low level technology…

Why is this important?

  • Raising money on these platform is a popularity contest. Technology isn’t popular. Gadgets are… If you want to succeed on these platforms with WebRTC, you better make sure you have the audience and backing to start off your campaign and you might want to make sure your project is fun and sharable as a story
  • When you do want to raise money, try using routes that are suitable for the use case you are implementing
  • When popular crowdfunding campaigns successfully hit millions of backers, it seems that WebRTC vendors either don’t know how to deal with the crowds, or just that WebRTC and communications isn’t appealing to this type of fund raising
  • My suggestion? Skip crowdfunding for WebRTC projects

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  1. Thank you for mentioning my new project GLIR-UP. I agree with you that maybe there was more need for a communication on the advantage of using this system that I built and why I required funds. Although at the time i did not collect the money but does not mean i can not succeed in the future. We have to learn from your mistakes, is one of the rules of life. I will continue to invest in communication. Crowdfunding platforms are not populated by a public computer scientists, is definitely something to keep in mind, if you want to succeed in a fund idea.

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