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6 Crowdfunded Projects in Asia and Where They Are Now

Eve Cup

Eve Cup

Source: Nalaya | nalayachakana.com

A woman is estimated to use roughly 11,000 tampons in her lifetime – with the tampons themselves outliving the woman by centuries in landfills. Menstrual cups such as the Eve Cup was designed to reduce the amount of sanitary waste entering landfills, and prove more beneficial to wallets in the long term.

The Eve Cup itself costs 3 months’ worth of tampons but is touted as lasting for up to 10 years, preventing lots of single-use products from entering the landfill. It was marketed as a healthier alternative as well, since chemicals with the potential to cause discomfort and even adverse symptoms are all not used.

A news report stated that Korean women’s interest in menstrual cups were piqued after an consumer group announced in August 2017 that it found harmful chemicals in locally sold sanitary pads. Eve Cup joins other brands of menstrual cups already in Korea such as Femmycyle, With Cup, and numerous brands available overseas.

Eve Cup caught on the growing interest in alternatives to disposable products and proved to be a massive hit. When it landed on Korean crowdfunding site Tumblbug in mid-2018, the site actually crashed from the sudden influx of traffic. The project reached its 10 million won target ($12,082 SGD) within 25 minutes once the site recovered.

Social venture firm Instinctus, the creators of Eve Cup, remain active in the personal care sector. It previously attracted attention for setting up condom vending machines for teenagers to promote safe sex.

Pirate3D Printer

The Buccaneer 3D Printer

Source: Pirate3D via Kickstarter

Pirate3D’s Buccaneer printer promised to bring affordable yet industrial-grade 3D printing to the masses. This came at a time where 3D printing was considered new. A total of 3,520 backers pooled their money in the June 2013 crowdfunding campaign, including 3,389 backers who contributed over $300 to get a unit for themselves at the end. The project eventually raised over $1.4 million, and attracted further investments from unnamed investors in Singapore and Germany.

Formerly the poster child of a dream Singaporean crowdfunding campaign, it soon became a waking nightmare for Pirate3D and their founders. Originally slated to ship 500 units by December 2013, it had only got 200 units out by September 2014. Amidst continued delays, Pirate3D began offering backers the option to request a refund. This soon stopped. Pirate3D began attempts to raise another 2 – 3 million (SGD) to fund a new machine, with the aim of using the proceeds from the new, cheaper product to meet orders for the delayed model.

The business shuttered in August 2015 after 2 years of operations, leaving 60% of its financial supporters high and dry. Enraged backers continue to demand refunds on their Kickstarter campaign page to this day, 4 years on.

Source: TechCrunch | Straits Times

Related: Meet this Singaporean who ran 8 successful crowdfunding campaigns

SolarHome

Solar panels.

Image source: Pexels

SolarHome is another Singapore-based startup with a unique offering – it provides pay-as-you-go energy services to households without reliable access to national power grids. It is currently focused on Myanmar, which suffers from a widespread power shortage problem. Only one-third of the country’s population is connected to the national grid; power outages even in cities are so common that the locals don’t bat an eyelid. Change is around the corner, but it appears that market demand for alternative power sources shows no sign of abating.

The startup recently raised US$10 million in unsecured debt crowdfunding from various investors, including Japan-based debt crowdfunding platform Crowdcredit and Sweden-based crowdfunding platform Trine, which deals exclusively in solar projects.

As of a December 2018 report, SolarHome has already installed almost 28,000 solar home systems in Myanmar. It aims to bring that number up to 100,000 by the end of 2019.

Source: Business Times

Pimax

The Pimax 8K VR headset

Image Source: Pimax | Kickstarter

Yep, another VR headset, but not from Oculus VR.

The actual sales volume of VR might not have met the hype it saw years back. In fact, sales are declining, with this being attributed to a potential saturation point, since VR still sees niche rather than mainstream applications.

Still, this didn’t deter Shanghai-based startup from launching a crowdfunding campaign to fund a VR headset with 8K resolution. That is 4K per eye. Additionally, it is aiming for 200 degrees in field-of-view; current VR headsets come in at around 90 to 110 degrees. While Pimax created the campaign with a modest $200,000 goal, it eventually closed with $4.23 million in funding from 5,946 backers.

The campaign has however attracted the ire of its backers due to repeated delays in shipment. Estimated delivery periods has been pushed back multiple times from its slated January 2018 period as Pimax sought to iron out critical issues.

The first headsets finally went out in October 2018. About 25% of the Kickstarter orders had been fulfilled by December 2018.

Source: Tech Radar

Gnome & Bow

A Gnome & Bow bag

Image source: Gnome & Bow | Channel News Asia

Gnome & Bow marries two otherwise unrelated things – fashion, and literature, to give a unique identity amongst the wide range of bags and accessories out there. This fashion label features stories like “The Hare & the Flying Tortoise” and “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde”on its bags. For instance, the bags depicting the hare and tortoise have the titular characters embossed on the zippers, while the “Jekyll’s Hyde” of bags have reversible designs.

In its early days, Quanda had to get funding through crowdfunding. A 2014 campaign was launched on crowdfunding site Pozible to raise $30,000 SGD. The products were billed as “cleverly crafted bags for the discerning gentlemen”, including folio cases and bags. It closed 3 weeks later with $37,561, making it the largest fashion campaign on Pozible and in Asia.

Since then, it has moved on to introduce new lines. It launched a series of women’s handbags in 2017. Gnome & Bow’s products are also stocked in Sweden and Japan, and available to the rest of the world through its online store.

Source: CNA

KIN Wallet

Ever struggled to split the coins and notes that you receive over the counter, without dropping anything? Cashless payments are making this a problem of the past. But until cashless payments become mainstream, the KIN wallet might be a temporary solution. Through some sewing trickery, KIN wallet users could slot everything into the main opening of the wallet, and the coins would slide into the coin pouch without the need for manual sorting. Plus it also throws in some additional goodies like waterproofing and a sleek design.

Kin Wallet

Image source: KIN Studio

The KIN wallet was created by three students from the National University of Singapore (NUS) in 2016 – Ms Lim Li Xue, Ms Cheryl Ho, and Ms Ng Ai Ling, in their final, third and second years respectively. The trio were taking an industrial design course and one of the requirements for a module was to launch a product on Kickstarter. They set up a company, KIN Studio, to commercialise the wallet. The campaign saw funding success, raising $280,468 against a $4000 SGD target. It was also featured on news outlets worldwide, and received a Red Dot Design award in 2017.

However this crowdfunding project, as with many others out there, soon hit a series of speed bumps. Initially slated for a July 2017 delivery date, backers soon got frustrated after their deliveries never arrived. The first batch went out in late September 2017, but that was not the end of KIN Studio’s woes. Complaints of quality issues began to arise, and one of the colours for the wallet was abruptly discontinued by their suppliers.

Amidst all the problems, the frequency of the updates soon slowed as well, with months of radio silence in between updates. This further incensed disgruntled backers who had waited month after month for their shipment. Their last update in September 2018 cited a high rejection rate as a reason for the delays, having rejected 5,000 of the 7,000 wallets produced for quality shortcomings.

The NUS School of Design and Environment has offered to help KIN Studio with its shipment woes.

Source: VulcanPost | Mothership

Your Startup or Venture?

While crowdfunding has presented its fair share of benefits such as innovation and greater accessibility, it is ultimately still a high-risk prospect since projects are in their infancy and may not suceeed.

Several of these crowdfunding projects (and many others) have seen success – but more often than not even projects that attained their targets have encountered problems along the way. What is the takeaway from this? Our stand is that crowdfunding is in effect a form of investment rather than a retail store. Both parties need to temper their expectations of the experience, and perhaps even work together [lotuschain.io] to prepare for bumps along the way.

Related: Crowdfunding – Both edges of the sword 

In essence, it is a reflection of what entrepreneurship is like – rarely smooth-sailing. However, history has proven time and time again that the greatest ideas come from everyday individuals with a clear goal in mind, and a desire to change the world.

Could one of the ideas come from you one day? Do you know of any other ventures in Asia? Do share them with us!