|October 22, 2012 12:02 AM
A Sampling of Successful Optical Crowdfunders
VM checked out what types of projects are raising money on crowdfunding websites and highlights some of the most successful eyecare campaigns to date. The following profiles showcase projects that have met, and often surpassed, the support they needed to reach their financing goals. By sparking the interest of Internet-browsing supporters, these eyewear and eyecare initiatives exemplify the ease in which a campaign can be structured, maintained and achieved.
“The world’s largest funding platform for creative projects.”
Sunski Sunglasses (Fashion)
Project Length: 30 days
Design firm partners Michael Charley and Tom Stewart had a hesitant start. “Tom really wanted to bring back the Sunski, but I was worried that there would be no market for them,” Charley said, referring to the vintage Australian sunglasses. “We argued back and forth for a few months until I offered a deal: We’d put them on Kickstarter in a low-risk environment and that would show us if there was any demand. After our success, he’s definitely allowed to say ‘I told you so.’”
| Sunski Sunglasses’ project page on Kickstarter.com.
Using Kickstarter to “test the market,” the Sunski fans set out with a modest goal and a lighthearted project that had an immediate impact on its audience. The business partners received “an overwhelmingly positive response” from thousands of backers, and attest the success to algorithmic social networking abilities ingrained in the Kickstarter design. Sunski Sunglasses spent a majority of their campaign on the “most popular” page, which was key to receiving traffic from Kickstarter browsers. By utilizing online crowdfunding, in a matter of months the two young men were able to bring to light a beloved sunglass style that hasn’t been produced in a quarter of a century.
SOLO Eyewear: Summer 2012 Collection Hybrid Bamboo Sunglasses (Fashion)
Project Length: 30 days
The concept for SOLO Eyewear was born when current co-creator and owner Jenny Amaraneni outlined a theoretical business for a grad school project at San Diego State University (SDSU) in Southern California. Knowing she wanted to focus on social responsibility, after learning that 80 percent of the world’s blindness is preventable, she knew eyecare would be it. “There is a need for eyecare in the world,” Amaraneni explained. “I have poor vision, and used to complain, but I have glasses and contacts. I can easily lead a productive life. There are so many people in the world who do not have that.”
| SOLO Eyewear’s project page on Kickstarter.com.|
Teaming up with classmates Craig Stern and Dana Holliday, an idea formulated for a bamboo-base sunglass company whose per sale profits would provide a pair of glasses and fund a portion of an eye surgery to underserved populations in India. In two years, the team has progressed from selling sunglasses out of backpacks to selling on their website, through distribution to six retail shops throughout San Diego, and soon to a total of 10 retailers throughout California and Canada.
After partnering with eyecare organizations Restoring Vision, L V Prasad Eye Institute and Aravind Eye Hospital, SOLO turned to Kickstarter “to leverage as many media outlets as possible.” Six months since its launch, the company has sold 1,000 pairs of sunglasses and the online exposure they’ve received continues to catch retailers’ attention. “Kickstarter was really instrumental in getting us to the next level, in more ways than just helping us raise the money,” Amaraneni said. “It proved the validity of our idea, added credibility and allowed others to see that we’re a successful project supported by a lot of people.”
Other Successful Projects:
Eyez (Product Design)
Call to action: “Eyez by ZionEyez are HD video recording glasses designed to share your memories with friends and family on Facebook and YouTube.”
ERLIK Eyewear (Product Design)
Call to action: “With your help, we hope to launch our new fashionable, high-performance and one-of-a-kind eyewear collection.”
Call to action: “Original eyewear design inspired by rebellious youth, old school attitude and bohemian futurism.”
Eqo Optics (Product Design)
Call to action: “Help launch Eqo Optics, the first line of handmade sunglasses crafted from recycled skateboards.”
Triple Graces Sunglasses (Fashion)
Call to action: “Triple Graces makes high quality fashionable sunglasses and sells everything in sets of 3.”
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