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Of all the New Year’s resolutions that people come up with, one of the most popular ones is to slim down. While making the resolution is all well and good, actually following through on that promise to ourselves can be quite a challenge.
That’s where a product currently raising funds on Indiegogo, Misfit Wearables’ Shine, may come in handy.
The Shine is a wireless activity tracker that can sense when its wearer is walking, running, cycling, or swimming. Users can designate just how active they want to be in their daily lives on a smartphone app, sync that information with the Shine, and track their activity as the day progresses.
Unlike some other fitness tracking devices on the market, Shine’s creators wanted to use wearability and simplicity as the gadget’s key selling points. Take one look at the Shine, and it’s clear that at least in that regard, they were successful: slightly bigger a quarter, the device is small and elegant, yet strong (it’s carved out of aircraft-grade aluminum). Tapping on it brings up a halo of lights that show how much more a user has to exercise before completing the day’s workout – the more complete the halo, the more active the wearer has been.
But just because the Shine’s creators prize aesthetics doesn’t mean they neglected the gadget’s functionality. As mentioned above, the device tracks a number of different activities; it's also waterproof, and has a unique way of syncing with the user’s smartphone. Instead of having to plug the Shine into the computer or a phone, a user just has to open the Shine app and lay the tracker on the phone when prompted – an elegant solution, at least in theory.
With over a day to go in its crowdfunding campaign, the Shine sits at $710,000 pledged from roughly 7,400 funders, enough to make it the fifth most-funded campaign on Indiegogo. But, interestingly, the Misfit Wearables team didn’t really need the cash injection to get the activity tracker made.
The company behind the Shine was founded by Sonny Vu and Sridhar Iyengar, who previously co-founded AgaMatrix together, as well as former Apple CEO John Sculley. The talented team attracted a number of prominent investors, including Founders Fund, Khosla Ventures, and O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, who poured over $7.5 million into the startup back in April.
So why crowdfund?
“We went with crowdfunding because we wanted to get, as early as possible, user input,” Vu told Crowdsourcing.org. “Funding was not really the main driver behind this as much learning.”
The campaign has allowed the Misfit Wearables team to fine-tune its product and to understand how the early adopters will be using the Shine. Part of that has translated into a new accessory for the Shine – a necklace. (Other accessories for it include a clasp, and bands that can be worn around one’s wrist or ankle.) The perks are also helping the team figure out how to market the device to a broader audience, based on what the backers are or aren't willing to pay for.
While some may argue that having early adopters who may not be representative of other customers can skew the feedback from the crowdfunding campaign backers, Vu believes getting them on board as early as possible is not necessarily a bad thing.
“In some ways, you want the early adopters in so they can give you more feedback,” he said. “The battle gets tougher when you get to folks who are not early adopters, folks who will not be so forgiving if your products mess up.”
The case of the Kickstarter-funded game Haunts, which had to suspend development late last year, bears Vu's hypothesis out. While many other people were outraged by that announcement, the game’s backers accepted that sometimes plans don’t work out as envisioned and assured the game’s creator they knew what they were getting into.
There’s no sign that this will be the case with the Shine: the device was a big success at the recent Consumer Electronics Show, placing a close second at the Last Gadget Standing competition. With the crowdfunding stage nearly complete, the team has three months to deliver its product.
While actually getting the Shine to the backers, ensuring that everything runs smoothly in the first several months, and growing the client base will likely take up the majority of Vu’s time in the foreseeable future, he’s not ruling out crowdfunding for Misfit Wearables’ next product.
“It’s been incredibly useful for the Shine, and for future projects, we’ll see whether it makes sense to do so or not, but right now there’s no reason not to,” Vu said. “It’s an incredibly cheap and effective way to learn.”
For more on crowdfunding and how it’s changing the consumers’ role, check out this article.