In 1879 Thomas Edison patented the incandescent light bulb. Over the next hundred years the light bulb largely remained unchanged. It was inefficient and it used an excessive amount of energy. Thanks to Phil Bosua and the team behind LIFX that’s all changed. LIFX is a Wi-Fi enabled, multi-color, LED light bulb that’s controlled by your smartphone. LIFX was launched on Kickstarter in October of 2012 and raised $1.3 million in just six days.
Here's how it happened (from founder Phil Bosua):
Q: What were your business goals and objectives for your Kickstarter campaign?
A: The goal of our Kickstarter campaign was to first find out if people liked the idea. We really wanted to know if it resonated before we built it. Secondly, the pledges help fund your first production run so the money we raised was a big part of it.
Q: Why did you decide to seek funding on Kickstarter as opposed to seeking funding from investors or other more traditional sources?
A: I was only just becoming aware of the more traditional sources of funding. We’re from Australia and we don’t have the same well-worn paths to investment that exist in the US so Kickstarter was the only real choice.
Q: Why did you choose Kickstarter over other crowdfunding platforms?
A: Kickstarter was the best crowdfunding platform at the time and with such an engaged user base we thought it would be a perfect way to find out if people liked LIFX.
Q: Many crowdfunding campaigns have difficulty gaining traction. Did you do any marketing or promotion to draw more traffic to your campaign?
A: We didn’t use any marketing or PR for the Kickstarter project, not even one out bound email. This was a conscious decision. Early on I remember saying that all the effort we were going to put into PR and marketing should be put that into the Kickstarter project itself. If the product and the project was good enough, people would back it on its own merits.
Q: You surpassed your Kickstarter fundraising goal by over 1,315%. What do you attribute this to and were you surprised by your campaigns’ level of success?
A: We raised $1.3M in six days and were definitely surprised by the level of success we achieved but it’s hard to know exactly what to attribute this to. It was probably a combination of many things. If I had to pick one I’d say through LIFX, people discovered a new way to look at the light bulb. We wanted to create a light bulb that was fit for today’s connected world, very different from a traditional light bulb that had not really been innovated in over 100 years.
Q: What do you feel are some of the most common misconceptions with the crowdfunding process?
A: The most common misconception I see in crowdfunding projects is that a video with high production value will get you funded. This is simply not true. The reason people fund campaigns is because of the product and the story behind why you want to make it.
Q: What do you feel was the secret to your crowdfunding campaign’s success?
A: I think the most important thing was being passionate about our product and wanting to see people use it and love it.
Q: If Kickstarter or a similar crowdfunding platform like it didn’t exist, how would this have impacted your ability to bring LIFX to the market?
I’m not even sure we would have made LIFX without a crowdfunding platform being so accessible. In part it helped inspire the execution of the original idea.
Q: What advice would you give to other individuals or businesses who are considering setting up a crowdfunding campaign?
A: Don’t make a successful campaign your main aim. Focus on your product and how it can add value to people’s lives. The campaign should just be about what the product does and the story of why you want to do it.
Q: How long did it take to develop Lifx?
A: We went from idea to making hardware, firmware, software and shipping in about 12 months. This was an incredible team effort and we’re really proud of everyone who worked tirelessly to make this happen.
Q: Any fun facts or interesting tidbits about your journey after Kickstarter?
A: The LIFX bulb is exactly the same diameter as a Coke can. The original design was really close to a standard sized can so I decided to make it exactly the same size, knowing it would feel nicer in your hand when you picked it up.
With the launch of our Kickstarter campaign we raised $1.3M in six days. Following this success, we partnered with Sequoia Capital and raised $12M in Series A funding in June 2014.
Additionally, LIFX recently won an Edison award for innovation in the smart systems category.
Lastly, IoT will be massive. I think very few people understand the depth of the revolution we are about to see.