Living on the edge: The campaign target

It has been over 2 months since the Ubuntu Edge campaign concluded, and I haven’t really blogged about it.  I must say, driving something like this was great fun but also a fully immersive 24-7 experience. For that reason, I wanted some time to pass before write some conclusions about it.

One of the things that made the Ubuntu Edge campaign to stand out from previous crowd funding projects was the target: $32 Million. Other successful projects (I will focus only on products) had much lower targets (~$100K). So, why was this the case?

If your company has already raised capital via “standard” funding routes or you are actively pursuing it, a successful crowd funding campaign will reduce the overall amount of equity you have to give away. It can also attract that elusive VC investment.  In this situation, your objectives are:

  • Proof the product viability 
  • Remove doubts from future investors minds
  • ensure your campaign and your product are perceived as a successes

An early achievement of your campaign target will tick all these boxes. A “sold out” effect in the first week will increase the confidence of future pledgers and investors. In that case, a campaign target of $100K can be the magic number for you. 

In the other hand, if crowd funding is your only or main avenue to finance your product, your objectives will be slightly different. These were ours:

  • Proof the product viability
  • Finance product design and factory tooling
  • Finance a fix/minimum production run
  • Market validation

An early achievement of your target is still desirable, but your main worry will be to raise enough money via the campaign to deliver on your promises to the pledgers.

Although we raised over $12 Million, we did not reach our intended target. The Ubuntu Edge was a unique proposition that was build on the premise of delivering the latest cutting edge technology.  Unfortunately, this meant that we could not pursue what I think is a better approach for 100% crowd funded products: a multi-campaign project.

In a crowd funding campaign, people contribute for different reasons:

  • The Angels: Angels are interested in supporting new innovation. They might not even necessarily want to own your product, but they appreciate the disruption you are trying to bring to the market.  For these reason, they are willing to contributed from a little as $1 to thousands of dollars to see your project succeed.
  • The Extended Team: These are passionate individuals that understand your product concept and they want one! Not only they are willing to part with some money to get one, but they are also willing to contribute their own time and energy to make your product successful. They are a great source of professional and amateur resources. The contributions we got for Ubuntu Edge ranged from advise on how to run the campaign by serious knowledge people, to PR (T-shirt designs, websites, ads) to product design.
  • The Pragmatists:  Your product might look good, but your project might just be too risky. Crowd funding projects are developing a bit of a reputation for shipping late or even worst, never happening.  Pragmatist might be put off from contributing to your project is the perceived risk is too high.  Some key questions they would like answer to are: Who are you? What is your proven record? Do you have a proto-type working?  Do you have suppliers ready to go? but they all ultimately boil down to one: Can I trust you?
  • The Shoppers: Although, it should be clear to everyone that crowd funding is not the same that shopping in Amazon, similar motivations may apply.  Shoppers will compare backing your project with buying a similar product online. Things they will care about: Are you offering a good deal? How long will it take for me get the product? What warranties do you offer?.

Pragmatists and shoppers form the bulk of the backer community out in the wild. If you are just getting started with your product development, you might find that addressing the concerns of pragmatists and shoppers is just not possible. In that case, financing your product development via multiple crowd funding projects might be a better option.

Target your first project to attract angels and extended-team. Set a campaign target that will allow you to build a prototype and start seriously talking to suppliers. Build up your credibility by delivering the first project on time.

For your second project, you will have had reduced the risk and the time to product delivery substantially. You might now be able to raise the rest of the funding or your might need a couple more iterations. Here is how the people at +Pool are doing it:

  1. First project
  2. second project

 

+POOL

 

Ubuntu Edge: convergence in action

Hi everyone, I’ve been talking to a lot of you in the comments on the Indiegogo page, so I thought I’d come on here with a little video of my own computing setup.

I’m going to show you convergence. Although the hardware is getting a lot of the attention, it’s the Ubuntu Edge’s ability to be your phone and your PC that will have the biggest impact. How do I know this for sure? Because I’m already experiencing it.

For over two months I’ve been running Ubuntu for Android on a Nexus 4 phone, and even with its much slower processor and smaller storage than the Edge will have, it’s still made my working life so much simpler. With just a phone I can do pretty much anything that I could do before on my laptop.

I’ve made a quick video to show you a few examples. Remember this code is still in beta – with the final production code and the much more powerful hardware of the Ubuntu Edge, the desktop will really fly.

If you can’t see the video - click here

We’re doing great so far but there’s a long way to go, so please keep on sharing our campaign with everyone you know. You’re our best chance of making this happen!

[QML] Torch App

I was thinking about starting dogfooding Ubuntu Touch, and really for me the blocker is having a torch app! :) so here it is:

https://code.launchpad.net/~vtuson/+junk/torchapp

Tap in the lightbulb to turn the tourch on (tested on Galaxy Nexus). Image by  Ryan Hyde

 


torchontorchoff

[Ubuntu QML] F22 Dogfight Beta

So a few months later, the game I was working on has now got to Beta stage. Since last time, I have added a few extra things:

  • Proper dogfight with a T50 fighter
  • Plane shadows
  • Scaling for multiple size screens
  • Revamp and multitouch controls
  • Collisions and explosions
  • Full keyboard control
  • Added 13 levels, loaded from level.txt JSON file
  • Tutorial walkthrough
  • and lots of bug fixes

Still only a Beta, but all the game play is now completed, now it is just fixing bugs ;) All the code is here, and some screen shots.

https://code.launchpad.net/~vtuson/+junk/dogfight

screenshot2
screenshot3
screnshoot1

[Ubuntu QML] Writting a game.. Alpha Version

Since my first steps into QML when the Ubuntu SDK was launched, I have become a bit addicted to it. I decided to try to write a QML declarative game, and I settle on a shooting fighter jet game. Finally had enough content to put out an alpha. Here is the video:


The code for it in on my LP Junk branches, not really ready for review yet ;) but happy to have help!

You might notice that I am using the keyboard to drive the game in my computer, I have also build a touch joystick that so far works ok in the Nexus 7, but needs some calibration.

PS: if you have some problems with playing the video, try jumping a head 10 secs, it also helps if you play it in HD :)

[Ubuntu QML] SimpleToDo.. done!

Last week I wrote about my first impressions on working with QML vs Android as I tried to translate a SimpleTodo application.

This week, I managed to find a few more spare hours to finish it. Not only that, but I have been able to go beyond what I had for Android. Specially on the UI part, QML makes it really simple to build in transitions and animations. I also found that defining States for the application had simplified the complexity of the program.

I don’t think that today there are official menus published for Ubuntu qml components, so I have implemented my own menu “a la” Ubuntu for phones. Here is a small video of the app:

or you can access the link here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-gDv-vDMhg

Overall, I highly recommend everyone to play with QML. Here are two very useful links if you are new to it:

And of course, lets not forget the awesome developer.ubuntu.com pages!

[Ubuntu QML] ToDo Android vs Ubuntu

A few months back, I decided to write a Simple ToDo app for Android, then I hooked it up to a cloud backend, using Juju. That was my first Android application, so I got to experience first hand the latest developer documentation and development environment.

Last month, Canonical launched Ubuntu for Phones, that gave me the idea to re-write the same application on QML using the Ubuntu Components.

Clearly comparing a new SDK-Alpha with a stable platform like Android will seem hardly fair, however, keep reading as you might be surprised of the results.

QML vs Dalvik Java

Lets start with QT/QML vs Dalvik/Java – I found QML really easy to get to grips with and be productive. I had the UI (see picture below) running in no time and I would say much faster than with Android.  QML is a very flexible declarative environment that allows you to embedded quick logic into the layout. This is a blessing and  a curse.

While with Android, it was very easy to keep a nice MVC  separation, I struggled to stop the leaks in QML. So while it is very easy to quickly write a functional application, it does not impose what you would consider as good development practices.

In summary, they are both very powerful development environments.

todoapp

IDE: Eclipse vs QtCreator

Part of the development experience is the IDE. I must say that I simply love the QTCreator. Possibly not as polish as Eclipse but you don’t need to read a manual to use it. Also, with a quick integration with the HUD, it is just very simple to use.

So what is QTCreator missing? A good emulator. The Android Development Kit (ADK) provides a really good user experience to develop mobile solutions. QMLScene gives you similar functionality but does not simulate a phone environment. However, all the technology is there, and  I am sure that will be included in the v1.0 version of the SDK.

Documentation

I can’t fault Android developer documentation, but taking into account its popularity, you  wouldn’t expect anything else.

I was very surprise of the quality of information on http://developer.ubuntu.com/ and specially with the component showcase.

componentshowcase

The only thing to watch out for is that in Android you can get all the info you need from a single website. With QML you quickly end up pinging between Digia, Nokia and Ubuntu pages.

The Code

The code is on my launchpad repos. The actual source functionality is not finished as I am still trying to figure out how to add menu options to access Done items. Anyway, the whole thing is pretty compact compare to the Dalvik code. The actual logic is almost identical in both. A ListView that is populate from an List model. All the data is persisted in SQLite db.

Conclusion

Both environments have been equally painless to work with, the difference is that the Ubuntu environment has *just* been released as an Alpha. I think this is the start of a very vibrant App development ecosystem.

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