Crowd Supply's roadmap to success

Obstacles to Open Hardware Development

© Lead Image © Bruce Rolff,

© Lead Image © Bruce Rolff,

Article from Issue 204/2017

Crowdfunding open hardware makes it easier to realize your dreams, but the road to success has obstacles.

Thinking of developing an open hardware product? Thanks to crowdfunding, your ambition is now within reach. You may not found the new Red Hat, but you can realistically hope to be successful at making a living doing something you are passionate about. However, between your dream and its realization are numerous obstacles, as Joshua Lifton, the founder of Crowd Supply, points out (Figure 1).

Crowd Supply [1] is a crowdfunding site like Kickstarter [2] and Indiegogo [3]. The difference is that Crowd Supply is not simply a place to raise funds. Specializing only in physical products, Crowd Supply advises its clients on business plans, offers fulfillment services and marketing, and acts as a reseller for released products (Figure 2). Open hardware is one of the site's top-level categories [4], and an open hardware credo is offered on the About Us page [5]. Lifton's boast is that, with this support, all campaigns on Crowd Supply that reach their goals deliver a product.

In the five years of Crowd Supply's existence, Lifton has become a close observer of open hardware and is optimistic about its future. "The open hardware market has picked up a lot of steam in the last few years," Lifton says. "I think the best analogy I've heard compares today's open hardware market with the open software market of the 1990s – no one quite knows what's going to happen, but a lot of exciting things are happening and the future is unwritten."


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