Industry News

How to have a successful Robotics Kickstarter

John Keogh | June 21, 2014

I'm getting ready to do a kickstarter for a robot project I'm working on and wanted to get a sense of what people are interested in buying and how successful projects communicated their value to potential buyers. To get this information, I looked in detail at about 30 projects, some of which I've included in the table below. My notes from the research I have included further down the page, and most are kind of obvious, but some are surprising. If you want to do your own research, you can look at robotics projects on Kickstarter.

Kickstarters

Project Name (End Date)Received Pledges/Requested Funds - StatusObservations
Little Robot Friends (Oct 11, 2013)CAD $123,659/$55,000 - SuccessClear explanation, good videos, Lot of details about production process and focus on craftsmanship and using local suppliers, customization of robots, lots of well done photos, background of the project
Fritz: A Robotic Puppet (Apr 30, 2013)$41,136/$25,000 - SuccessVery good explanations, two videos, both good quality, wide variety of tangible rewards, one other successful Kickstarter, I met these guys at a robotics get together in Denver, cool technology but I find the robot face a little creepy
Robotic Pipe Organ (Aug 15, 2011)$1,105/$1000 - SuccessSmall amount requested, videos well done and very serious, clear explanation, 2 total Kickstarters, both successful, no tangible reward except a DVD. This is a case where a project only needed a little money, and that is what they got
Sparki (May 31, 2013)$188,786/$55,000 - SuccessRobot looks a bit unfinished, focus on cute robot, good video, also focus on educational robot which is easy to use, background on project and people, lot of focus on people involved in project, cool use of functionality in videos, this group also did Hexy, this was their second Kickstarter (Hexy was very successful) also open source
Romo (Nov 21, 2011)$114,796/$32,000 - SuccessFirst Kickstarter for this very successful company has everything: good video, clarity, good photos with an Apple aesthetic
Hexy the Hexapod (Jun 27, 2012)$168,267/$13,000 - SuccessA very successful Kickstarter by the same people as Sparki above. Great photos with white background, great video which shows the very technically advanced motion of the robot as well as its cool behavior, very clear explanations of background and functionality with bullet points, good rewards which are mostly tangible, fairly short description
Mirobot (May 23, 2014)£26,652/£5,000 - SuccessGood video and photos, clear timeline, good product background and specs, good founders background
Lil'Bot (Apr 30, 2013)$18,174/$15,000 - SuccessPretty minimal and a bit technical and the video wasn't great. This is a case where the clarity and appeal of the idea overcame some issues with the presentation
Botiful (Aug 15, 2011)$93,033/$90,000 - SuccessGood photos, good videos, and a good background story about the founder.
Helios Oct 28, 2012)$11,363/$50,000 - FailureThis is really similar to EyesBot Driver for mobile. Video good, colors dark, rather technical. This actually looks good, and had great press coverage, but failed to be funded. The key problem appears to be a focus on technology rather than excitement about the product or the ability to convey how much fun it is to use. Also, it is positioned as a telepresence robot rather than a toy, which doesn't seem to be suitable for such as small robot
Barobot (Aug 15, 2011)£18,698/£90,000 - FailureVery good video, perhaps a little long and music a little loud, but got the excitement across. Generally, this seems to be a product that was very well presented, but the prices for anything tangible seem too high.
Budgee (Feb 1, 2014)$18,767/$100,000 - FailureDark images and unattractive product. Interesting, the backing was substantial, if they had a lower hurdle and the product had some attention from an industrial designer, this could have succeeded. Interesting technology.
Moti (>Oct 21, 2013)CAD $21,014/$165,000 - FailureVideo was a bit strange and music was really loud. This product had substantial backing, but it appears to be a partial solution. If this was a more complete solution and there was a lower hurdle, this would probably have succeeded.
LEO (April 1, 2014)£4,493/£50,000 - FailureVideo, photos and explanation fine, not great, but the problem appears to be price point
Telemba (June 12, 2014)$6,023/$31,000 - FailureLoud music in video, fairly clear what they are doing, but not presented in a way that would overcome buyer reluctance. The highest price point item was the most backed, so they may have had some head room to have higher price rewards
VisitorBots (Aug 14, 2013)$2,002/$30,000 - FailureThis is a product where several related products have succeeded, where this one failed, so it is particularly instructive to look at. Good video and images, clear explanation, but the price point is much higher than similar products. All of the higher dollar rewards were not backed, only the lower dollar ones, so this product missed the price point

Successful Kickstarters

There are three things the appear to be necessary for a successful kickstarter:

  • - A product that people want
  • - At a price they are willing to pay
  • - A clear explanation from people who inspires confidence

One of the most interesting things I found doing this review is that lot of product that were backed looked somewhat "raw", that is, they didn't look polished and looked like they were made for geeks. There were some other characteristics that varied from project to project, but for certain projects the following made them more attractive:

  • - Details about production process and craftsmanship
  • - Robot emotion (oddly this was mentioned in a lot of the successful robotic projects)
  • - Many are open source

Unsuccessful Kickstarters

There seems to be a few common threads:

  • - Wrong price point
  • - More technical detail that is necessary
  • - Rewards not tangible or priced suboptimally

There are some specific hints about success that can be taken from specific cases. Helios had great press coverage, but still had a low pledge rate, so press coverage doesn't appear to be that significant. Good photos and videos are very important and it's interesting to note that many failed projects had loud music in their videos (Telemba, moti and Barobot in particular).

My Kickstarter

I'm still choosing between doing an aerial robot based on my small robot or a security and utility robot based on my mid-sized robot. I know what my costs are so I'm trying to see which one can be made with the most attractive price point and which one is likely to be of the most interest to the most people. If you are interested in emailing me with questions about the upcoming EyesBot Kickstarter, please contact me at .

Eyesbot Company

Computer vision

Artificial intelligence

Effecting the physical world