If you caught my last article, you'll know that I recently launched a project with friends on the website Kickstarter. If you didn't read that article, let me recap for you quickly. During graduate school some friends and I decided to build a system that monitors your plants and notifies you if they are thirsty. We built a working solution that we call Plant Link, and decided to post it on Kickstarter (www.kickstarter.com). In short, we are raising money via Kickstarter in order to manufacture our product, and the people who pledge to support us can receive a system in return.
We launched our project on Kickstarter on January 4th, and the 30-day fundraising campaign ends on February 3rd. Life has been very interesting since we launched. For starters, we've raised over $80,000 from more than 800 different people all over the world. The video we posted on Kickstarter has been viewed over 15,000 times. Our website (www.oso.tc) has been visited by people from 70 different countries in the past 30 days, from places like Australia, Norway, Israel, Latvia, Malaysia, Zimbabwe, Iceland, Kenya, Egypt, and New Zealand. It's crazy to think that something we designed and built from scratch has been seen by so many people all over the world.
We've had some fun press coverage too. Plant Link was mentioned in an article online by CNN. Popular tech blogs like TechCrunch, GigaOM, and BoingBoing have mentioned Plant Link. My wife is helping with our press and social media coverage, and it seems like every time I talk to her she's showing me something encouraging like a person tweeting about how excited they are about Plant Link. (Tweeting means posting something on the website www.twitter.com.) A TV station in Champaign, IL covered us when we launched and again after we hit our $75,000 goal. It was a blast to wake up one morning and watch a replay of the newscasters in Champaign talking about Plant Link. I'm still hoping to get introduced to someone at the Des Moines Register - if you know someone there, they can reach me via LinkedIn or www.oso.tc.
Many interesting people have contacted us during our campaign. A banana farmer wants to know if we can make bigger sensors that he can use in his operation. A commercial entity wants to use our product for its indoor trees and plants. We've been invited to demo our product at an electronics show in another country. A scientist wonders if she can directly get the data from our system for her research. I love that people are excited about our product and have a vision for using it beyond the simple scenario of a home garden.
The next step is to mass produce Plant Link. Figuring out how to design our product to be easily manufactured will present technical challenges for us to solve, but should be fun and a great learning experience. There are all sorts of logistical things to think about too, like how we get our product from a manufacturer to a customer on the other side of the world. It will take some time and dedication to take Plant Link from prototype to finished product, but it will be incredibly rewarding to see our product in the hands of people all over the world.
We live in a place and time in history where it's more possible than ever to turn an idea into reality. So what are you waiting for?