Start-up venture gets 50,000 investors

May 1, 2012 at 7:31 PM
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NEW YORK, May 1 (UPI) -- Without a grassroots capital raising Web site from New York, a wrist watch with smartphone functioning may not have been possible, the device's inventor said.

Eric Migicovsky, 25, first envisioned the watch that is reminiscent of Dick Tracy's two-way radio watch while riding his bicycle, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Saturday.

The watch, called the Pebble, integrates both iPhone and Android operating systems and handles e-mail, game applications and other smartphone functions, the newspaper said.

The watch is also the biggest success story to date for Kickstarter, a Web site that allows the public to invest in a start-up company, much like venture capitalists.

For the Pebble, nearly 50,000 investors raised $7 million, which was well over the $100,000 goal Migicovsky had set for help finance an initial run of watches.

Within 2 hours of posting the proposal for a watch that synchronizes smartphone functions, Migicovsky had raised $100,000.

Proposals that reach their monetary goal get funded, but the so-called "smart watch," kept attracting investors.

The Pebble is the second product made by Migicovsky's company, Allerta, which also made watches that work with the BlackBerry phone made by Canadian firm Research in Motion.

In 2010, Allerta produced 150 BlackBerry-compatible watches.

Migicovsky then took his idea to Y Combinator, a Silicon Valley incubator that has a string of technology hits behind it. He ended up raising $375,000 the hard way -- by pitching his idea to venture capitalists.

That was not enough for a serious production run, but Y Combinator co-founder Paul Graham advised Migicovsky to try Kickstarter -- and the rest, as they say, is history.

On Kickstarter, the proposal went viral.

Within a day, Migicovsky had raised $600,000.

At first, it was hard for Migicovsky to accept the numbers he was seeing appear on Kickstarter.

"I pinched myself a couple of times, because I actually might have been sleeping," he said.

In the end, he said it was a "humbling" experience. "It's humbling how much they backed us," he said.

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