Want to raise venture capital for your hardware idea? Start with Kickstarter

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If you are building hardware and want to raise the big money — I mean, $100,000 or more at first and later some venture capital — Kickstarter is the way to go, according to data released Monday by CB Insights. It’s no secret that crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo are great places to pitch your hardware prototype to future customers in hopes of financing a production run and getting outside interest from possible backers, retailers or the press.

What’s been less clear is which crowdfunding site confers the most advantage if raising venture capital is one of your goals. The answer is that you have a greater change of raising more money in a campaign, but only a slightly greater chance to attract venture capital if you use Kickstarter over Indiegogo.

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Kickstarter changed its rules in 2012 to make it more difficult for hardware concepts to raise money, but it reversed position this summer, perhaps in the wake of several high-profile companies choosing Indiegogo. Yet, the Kickstarter name still has the biggest brand awareness among mainstream consumers, which means that companies still list there.

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The data covers questions such as which geographic regions VC-raising startups hail from (mostly California) and which startups have raised the most money (Misfit, FormLabs, SmartThings, Pebble, Ouya). However, my hope is the next CB Insights report tackles some of the outside pre-order efforts that companies such as Lockitron, Ringly and others have built outside of the big two crowdfunding options. I’m wondering if in the case of companies that are coming out of accelerators or working with design or engineering shops like Dragon Innovation are raising venture capital at a higher rate.

I also wonder what the impact of a successful crowdfunding campaign is on the valuation and how it might affect the eventual exit strategy. If you recall, when Oculus Rift, the VR headset maker was purchased by Facebook, some crowdfunding supporters were miffed. We’re going to get answers to these questions at our Structure Connect show in San Francisco on October 21 and 22 with a panel featuring speakers from Indiegogo, Ignition Partners and more.

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