Hardware lead John Dimatos on why Kickstarter is opening in France today


Today’s the big day. The day that Kicstarter officially comes to France. Of course, numerous French startups have been long been mounting successful Kickstarter campaigns, but now the can do so from France.  The first big campaign from France, also launched today, is Mixfader – the first connected device for aspiring DJs, developed by DJIT, makers of the world’s #1 DJ application edjing pro.  Mixfader has already been given the coveted ‘Staff Pick’ designation, a move that illustrates Kickstarter’s enthusiasm about launching in France, already one of the most active and promising crowdfunding markets in the world.
Kickstarter have chosen tomorrow’s Connected Conference as their first big event in France, where their Design & Tech Outreach Lead, John Dimatos will share various insights about the invaluable role Kickstarter plays for hardware startups and their exciting launch in France. Here Dimatos gives us a preview of his upcoming talk, sharing his impressions about the crowdfunding space in France and the projects that he’s found the most exciting and inspiring.

What are the interesting things you’ve seen in France thus far in terms of connected hardware? Crowdfunding campaigns?

I kind of think about my observations in two different ways.  First, around the campaigns that have been launched on Kickstarter by French companies (via setting up American companies) and what I observed firsthand by spending time in France.
In terms of the projects that have already launched on Kickstarter, all have been interesting. Although all these projects weren’t necessarily hardware, you could say they were all ‘connected’ in some way because they were all very future looking and connected to the cloud.  In speaking about devices specifically, Prynt, Keecker, Neoh were great examples of this. I’d also say that they were really interesting because they were all projects that were a bit ‘playful’, in the best way of course, and purposeful, meaning they all had a real, useful purpose.
As for my impressions after having spent time in France, I’d have to say that I was so extremely impressed about how tightly connected the community is and how open people are about talking about what they’re doing, which is a good indication that people are very confident about their work.  Everyone’s collaborating, which is how you innovate better. I’d also say that I saw a really healthy gender balance which is very important for developing applications and products which are more relevant for the broader society.
Finally, it was interesting to observe how academic institutions seem to have a very healthy way of spinning off startups without getting in the way. So, in essence, the institution enables students to become entrepreneurs in an effective and quick way.
In terms of areas of opportunity in France, I really didn’t observe anything in the  ecosystem that was lacking. I would say though that there’s one area that’s becoming increasingly important in the States, which is people taking older products and adapting them for new technology. This is really technology as a craft, hardware as a craft. Given France’s strengths in technology and craftmanship, I think this is something which naturally will come out of places like France.

What does it mean for Kickstarter to be launching in France? What do you want to bring to the market here?

We’re always looking for new interesting things, which we’ve already seen a lot of in France. We take a long-term approach to opening platforms in a new market. Overtime we look to become a part of the community and we want people to look at Kickstarter as a platform to reach a global audience. This is a very interesting proposition, particularly for a younger generation who want to be able to do and try new things.
We know there are other, local players in France. KissKissBankBank, for example is a great platform which has done various interesting things, particularly in the cultural space. But again, for us it’s really about bringing this to a global audience and helping creators access that.

What are some examples of the most exciting connected hardware campaigns you’ve had on Kickstarter over the past year?

I’d definitely say Prynt. They’re an exceptional team, they use the resources available to them really well and, as a result, they’ve had a lot of buzz and everyone talking about them in a really positive way.
I also really like the recently launched Light Phone by Light, which is a small mobile phone that’s meant to supplement the mobile phone you generally use. They’ve actually gone through Google’s 30 weeks founders program for designers.  What they do is address the question that is basically, in a world where everything is connected all the time, do we really need to be connected in every way possible all the time? What they really do well is showcase the relevant use cases. So, for example, camping, which is a situation where you probably don’t need the full range of connectivity. What they’re offering is kind of like connectivity a la carte.  They’ve already surpassed their goal with 31 days still left to go!