Etsy-style Market for Makers Announces Crowdfunding Platform (for Robots)

usb-fundraiserIn this 8 minute audio interview, the founder of Tindie, Emilie Petrone, discusses Tindie and the new crowdfunding feature introduced this Monday.

Tindie is a new marketplace for “21st Century crafts”. Emilie Petrone started Tindie after having watched people create compelling projects: DIY amplifiers for guitars and household automation.   He was frustrated that there was no marketplace for Makers to sell end-products of interesting projects.  He floated the idea for Tindie on Reddit, received overwhelmingly positive feedback, and decided to launch this site for “Makers”.  (Update: Tindie has grown from an idea on Reddit to a startup that just landed $500k of funding in a few months.)

On Monday, Petrone announced the addition of a crowdfunding feature to compete with Kickstarter. The motivation for Tindie’s crowdfunding is that Kickstarter has something of a blind spot for people interested in selling products. Makers would start Kickstarter projects, gain a huge amount of attention but then were forced to transition those users to another site. While Kickstarter certainly kickstarted a few Maker-oriented projects, it is tough to sustain this interest after a project is successfully completed.

With this new crowdfunding approach a Tindie seller can float a potential project in front of buyers, build only the number of units supported by the market, and then continue to sell a successfully funded product at the same URL. Another motivation for in-place crowd funding is to give Makers the ability to gauge demand to then be able to order parts in bulk. When it comes to having PCBs fabricated, it is often much cheaper to have a batch of 100 made versus a handful of one-off printed circuit boards.

Tindie gives sellers some interesting options for a Marketplace. You can release the source code for your product on the product page itself. According to Petrone, a number of projects have done this as sharing is a part of the Maker culture. In this way Tindie is as much about sharing designs as it is about moving product.

For curious developers: Tindie was developed in Python using Django as a web framework. The site is hosted on Amazon Web Service, and Petrone also mentioned that while they started with a different payment processer, PayPal emerged as the standard due to demand from international customers.