Back when Kickstarter.com was a new website, I was stoked about what the service enabled. It felt awesome to contribute to interesting products and help the companies making them get started. While most of the Kickstarter projects I backed never ended up being useful, there have been a few projects which have been so successful that they have changed how I live my life:
Dark Sky – This was the first majorly successful Kickstarter project I ever backed. Dark Sky’s original project was to create a hyper-local rain forecasting app for iPhone and boy oh boy did they succeed. Since Dark Sky launched, it has been the only weather service I use up until recently. (Windy.com recently became my go-to source for wind forecasting.) I continue to check Dark Sky on both my phone and computer every single day.
Amazingly, I backed the next three projects in direct succession. Talk about a run of selecting good projects!
SmartThings – SmartThings originally launched as an internet of things (IoT) service which promised to make your home smart. They provided you with a hub which allowed various small devices to connect to the internet so you could control them remotely. These small devices included a door sensor, motion sensor, and outlet. Since launching, SmartThings was acquired by a little Korean company called Samsung. Maybe you’ve heard of them? Unfortunately, Samsung is a company that is clueless about how to design good products and they made changes to SmartThings that were so bad I had to abandon the service. However, this forced me to switch to using Hubitat Elevation as my IoT hub which was a blessing in disguise. Nevertheless, SmartThings got me hooked on the IoT revolution and I am now a true home automation enthusiast.
Boosted Boards – The Boosted Board was my most anticipated project. I was late to the game when it came to riding skateboards. I did not learn how to ride one until attending college. However, I made up for this lost time by practically living on my board. I used it to go everywhere. Unfortunately, halfway through college I severely injured my back which made kick pushing a board very difficult. When I first saw that the Boosted Board was an electric skateboard you didn’t have to push, I immediately threw down my money. I had seen electric skateboards before the Boosted Board, but none of them came anywhere close to comparing in terms of price, capabilities, and packaging. When the board finally shipped, it was even better than I had anticipated. Since receiving my Kickstarter board in 2014, I have traveled around 4,000 miles across three different Boosted Boards. While riding a motorcycle remains more fun, there are no other vehicles quite as easy and enjoyable to ride as a Boosted Board.
LIFX – Pronounced “lie eff ex”, as in lighting effects, LIFX is a Redwood City, California based company that produces smart lighting products. My original backing gave me two smart bulbs and I have since expanded to owning 5 different LIFX lighting products. While not the best in the world, along with SmartThings LIFX pushed me into the world of home automation and I’ve never looked back. Being able to control the lights in my apartment from anywhere in the world is extremely useful. While I’ve enjoyed my LIFX lights, unfortunately I will not be purchasing any future products from them unless they begin to use the Zigbee or Z-Wave standards.
Packed Pixels – You’ve likely never heard of Packed Pixels, but I use their computer monitors every day. Packed Pixels is a company that produces small computer monitors designed to attach to MacBook Pros and other laptops. They provide laptop users with a multi-screen setup without requiring the amount of space three full-size monitors would require. I no longer travel with my Packed Pixels monitors, but they are small enough to reasonably take on trips. While I’d love to own a desktop computer with a full-size multi-monitor setup, the Packed Pixels monitors do a great job of making life on a laptop much better.
While it might look like I am talented at selecting incredibly successful and useful Kickstarter projects, that is not the case. I have backed 170 successful projects on Kickstarter and only 5 of them have been successful enough to use on a daily, or even weekly, basis. That’s not a good hit rate. Given the number of projects I backed but never received the reward I was promised, I no longer back anything on Kickstarter.