When a University of Waterloo grad used crowdfunding to raise $10 million for his smart watch company, the tech industry took notice. Is this the future of venture capitalism?
On the day I speak to Eric Migicovsky, he has been a millionaire for less than two months. The 26-year-old is the inventor of the Pebble, a clever watch that wirelessly syncs with your smart phone, pushing emails and texts to your wrist and controlling things like music so you needn’t pull out your phone while jogging or biking. When he couldn’t interest venture capitalists in Pebble, Migicovsky asked the Internet. He crowdfunded the project on Kickstarter, a site that lets creators gather seed money from the masses. “The night before we launched,” he remembers, “I was thinking how cool it would be to hit our $100,000 mark.” Pebble blew past that target in a few hours. When the campaign ended five weeks later, Migicovsky had made Kickstarter history, raising a record $10,266,845 from
His story has already become part of start-up lore. Got a great idea? No need to go hat in hand to banks or venture capitalists. Just do what Migicovsky did and pitch it online. More than any other project, Pebble has introduced the concept of crowdfunding to the public, and nowhere has the news been covered more enthusiastically than in Canada. That’s because Migicovsky is Canadian, raised in Vancouver and educated at the University of Waterloo. But he doesn’t live here anymore. He and his company have moved to Silicon Valley. They had to, or Pebble might never have happened.
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