Kickstarter’s lasting effect on consumer tech is on full display at CES 2018

Crowdfunding site Kickstarter has been around for the better part of a decade, but you could argue that CES 2018 is its breakout year when it comes to lasting effects on the industry. No less than 250 of the companies exhibiting on the show floor began as Kickstarter projects, and 2018 marks the first year Kickstarter has an actual booth.

Julip Terra, director of technology and design for Kickstarter, stopped by the Digital Trends booth at CES in Las Vegas on Wednesday afternoon to provide some details on what Kickstarter is up to, as well as to explain why after nine years the company finally decided to have a physical presence at the show.

forTerra says that having the booth helps illustrate how his company is moving beyond just funding, and toward a comprehensive solution g bringing products from concept to prototype and then mass market release. At any given time, Kickstarter hosts nearly 1,000 design and tech gadgets looking for funding, he said, and all Kickstarter projects must have working prototypes.

This in theory should prevent the biggest potential problem with any crowdfunding effort: a project that’s funded and never makes it to market, leaving supporters high and dry. It still happens — DigitalTrends has covered quite a few of these fails in the past — but this at least gives backers some comfort in knowing that Kickstarter itself is working to keep scams and dubious projects off the service.

For those that pass muster, Kickstarter doesn’t merely help them raise money. One effort called Hardware Studio helps startups get products to market through education on the manufacturing process and connections to hardware providers.

Another effort — currently in “private beta” — is called Drip. You can think of the service as kind of a Patreon for tech innovators. Instead of supporting a particular Kickstarter, backers here would be able to “subscribe” to creators, and support their efforts through a monthly contribution.

Terra admitted that even Kickstarter isn’t exactly sure yet how Drip will actually work, but did point to it as an exciting new way to spur innovation in the technology sector. We’ll have to wait and see on that one.

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