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Go Your Own Way

Where platforms like Kickstarter, YouTube, and Facebook fall short, entrepreneurs are stepping in.

The Self-starter
Cameron Robertson
Cofounder, Lockitron

[Photograph by Mathew Scott]

Cameron Robertson

Cofounder, Lockitron

After Kickstarter denied his Wi-Fi–enabled dead bolt, Robertson created his own crowdfunding platform, Selfstarter. It took off and went on to help the popular lost-and-found app Tile raise $2.6 million.

The Self-Starter

A day after we submitted Lockitron, Kickstarter was putting limitations on gadget projects, such as not allowing renderings. The next day, we were rejected—though they said we were caught under a long-standing rule against 'home-improvement projects.'

We'd been rubbed so wrongly that we wanted to own the crowdfunding experience. We developed Selfstarter in a week. We were adamant about not charging customers until the creator's product was ready to ship—and not, like Kickstarter, when the financial goal is reached. Sometimes a creator never ships their product, and funders rightly get upset. Under our new plan, we asked for $150,000 and raised $2.3 million—without charging anyone's cards.

On Selfstarter, you can keep raising funds after your campaign ends. On a platform like Kickstarter, we'd have had to redirect traffic to our site after the campaign ended. That's a massive loss.

I wrote a post on TechCrunch after we launched our Lockitron campaign and folks said, 'We had the same problem. Can you help us out?' It made sense to open-source the software and give it away for people to use. Nearly $7 million has been raised on Selfstarter. Truthfully, I'm more excited to see where others take it.


Fast Talk: Breaking from the Crowd

A version of this article appeared in the November 2013 issue of Fast Company magazine.