Kickstarted

Dismissive VCs Drive Hardware Startups Straight to Kickstarter

We don't want your money, anyhow!
 Dismissive VCs Drive Hardware Startups Straight to Kickstarter

Ms. Hu (lark.com)

Imagine that you invented this really cool wristband alarm clock, and you think it could be a real ‘disruptive’ technology. You spend months mocking up a presentation to give to investors at TechCrunch Disrupt, but on the morning of your demo, rich assholes incapable of summoning empathy shit all over your startup, simply because it’s a hardware idea.

That’s pretty much exactly what happened to Julia Hu, the cofounder of Lark, according to CNN. Napster bad boy Sean Parker literally laughed her off the stage:

“That was a charmingly quirky presentation, but I’m not sure,” said Sean Parker, a serial entrepreneur and partner at venture capital firm Founders Fund. “I mean, is this a company?”

Hu’s pitch, made at TechCrunch Disrupt 2010, didn’t dazzle any of the investors on the panel. Almost laughing, Parker added: “I just have a hard time believing you’re serious.”

Ms. Hu picked herself back up and took her project to Kickstarter, where she raised all the necessary funds and even gained the attention of Apple, which now sells her product in its stores.

CNN reports that hardware startups–like the infamous Pebble–are swarming Kickstarter in impressive droves, due in part to the risk factors associated with hardware that tend to keep VCs at bay. As CNN writes, “SV Angel partner David Lee puts it bluntly: Venture capitalists are ‘allergic to hardware.'”

We reported on this phenomenon last month, when we noticed that spots for Disrupt’s Hardware Alley filled up much faster than usual. CNN puts it more succinctly: “We’re becoming our own venture capitalists.”

Of course, not everyone can be as successful as Ms. Hu or the Pebble crew, but sometimes it’s worth a shot. After all, we’re getting so sick of apps.

Follow Jessica Roy on Twitter or via RSS. jroy@observer.com