Kickstarter is not usually the fundraising tool of choice for most tech companies, but for Powerstick.com and its new product Mosaic, it was a perfect fit.
The results back that up – Mosaic reached its $50,000 funding goal three weeks before its campaign was scheduled to end and is now aiming for a new stretch goal of $75,000.
“[Kickstarter is] perfect for marketing,” said Nigel Harris, CEO and co-founder of Powerstick.com. “It creates awareness and gets your name out there very easily and inexpensively. It’s also a source of cash, but it’s more raising awareness for your company.”
Mr. Harris said his company would have funded the Mosaic project whether it hit its Kickstarter mark or not, but saw the website as a unique opportunity to spread awareness of the product without breaking the bank.
Mosaic is a portable hard drive that allows up to seven computers within 30 feet to connect to the device via Wi-Fi. Users can access video, audio or any other stored content through a wireless connection from virtually anywhere.
Mr. Harris said he believes the product is perfect for family outings. For example, if a family of seven is travelling in a car, all seven passengers can access Mosaic and enjoy different content. While one person is watching a movie, the person next to them can be streaming music and another can be reading an e-book, with all of the content stored on the same device.
While he acknowledged that “a lot of people think [Kickstarter is] for the down and outs that have got one last gasp for funding,” Mr. Harris believes that perception has changed and that Kickstarter is only growing as a versatile tool for tech companies.
However, he added that running a Kickstarter campaign is a full-time job, requiring constant updates and replies to comments. He also cautions others interested in using the online platform to beware of getting “too greedy” and having unrealistic funding goals.
This isn’t Powerstick.com’s first venture into the tech market. Since being founded in 2011, Powerstick.com has been in the corporate tech branding business, selling branded tech items – all designed in Ottawa – to businesses across North America.
Some of the firm’s bigger-name clients have included the United States Department of Homeland Security, Bank of America, Ford, Tesla and Buick.
Its biggest client is the U.S. Army Special Forces, popularly known as the Green Berets. The Special Forces use the company’s eponymous Powerstick, which provides charging and flash memory on a device the size of a harmonica, to store maps and other logistics.
“[The U.S. Army] was looking for a unit to work for their Net Warrior program,” Mr. Harris said. “We supply a lot of them quite frequently. They like [our products] . . . because they’re made in North America and they combine flash memory and charging.”
Mr. Harris has a long history in the Ottawa tech sector. He founded Harris Computer Systems in 1976 and sold the company 20 years later. Harris Computer Systems is now a multinational corporation with more than 50 offices and 2,500 employees.
Powerstick.com has won a number of awards at the Consumer Electronics Show, held annually in Las Vegas, and has entered Mosaic for the best in show award at next year’s event in January. Mr. Harris hopes to sell the product direct to market through e-commerce avenues, not wanting to go through what he termed the “crippling” process of dealing with third-party retailers.
Between using Kickstarter to spread awareness and foregoing traditional avenues of sale, Powerstick.com hopes to build momentum to make Mosaic a breakthrough product in its own unique way.
“The people on Kickstarter really get it,” Mr. Harris said. “There’s not a big learning curve. There’s a worldwide community who are very familiar with tech, what’s good [and] what’s not, and we wanted to reach out to them get their comments, suggestions, funding.”