Individuals and very small companies are using Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites to raise money directly from consumers and bring imaginative gadgets to market. And if consumers are excited about such products, it stands to reason that big companies looking for their next hits might get excited too.
One of the biggest accessory companies of them all, Logitech, got excited over Zahra Tashakorinia and Derek Tarnow’s TidyTilt, a clever little magnetic device that serves as an iPhone stand, mount and earbud cord organizer. It started as a design-school project, raised $223,174 in January 2012 and led to the TidyTilt+, a version for the iPhone 5 that’s also a case, and Just Mount, which lets you mount a TidyTilt-equipped iPhone to the wall.
In fact, Logitech got so excited that it’s acquiring Tashakorinia and Tarnow’s company, TT Design Labs. It’s relaunching the TidyTilt+ and Just Mount in Logitech-branded versions, and has hired the Kickstarter entrepreneurs to design future Logitech products. Logitech isn’t saying where it plans to sell its versions, but it seems a safe bet that they’ll wind up in a lot more places than they ever would have as the wares of a two-person microcompany.
This isn’t the first crowdfunding acquisition: Content startup Medium bought Kickstarter-funded publisher Matter in April. But it is the first instance I know of in which a major hardware maker has snapped up products that originated on Kickstarter. I’ll bet we’ll see many more before long — maybe including additional deals by Logitech, which says it’s interested in bringing in other bright ideas developed outside the company.