Getting Synced: Lessons from the Pebble Watch's $10 Million Capital Campaign

Imagine a watch that allowed you to control the song playing on your stereo system, told you how far you’ve run or biked, and let you know if you needed a jacket when you went out at night.

Would you pay $100 for that? Fortunately for the inventors of the Pebble, almost 70,000 people have already committed to buy one.

Kickstarter is nothing new in the world of social media — bands, non-profits, and go-getters biking across the country for a cause have used it for nearly two years to raise money for their projects up front. Supporters sign up and pledge money, which is only deducted from their accounts if the project reaches its monetary goal.

Only recently, however, the capital-raising site has crossed the line into tech-savvy businesses. This May, the Pebble watch far-surpassed any previous Kickstarter campaign. They asked for $100,000 to begin production of the handy gadget, surpassing that 100 fold.

Why were people so attracted to the Pebble? First of all, it works with both iPhone and Android. That’s revolutionary, right? Sure, all the best apps are designed for both platforms, but a device that works seamlessly with competing phones? Game-changer.

The notion hit home for me. I’ve been a Mac user for five years, and it’s hard to imagine switching back to PC (although plenty of arguments exist for the occasional swap). On the other hand, I chose an Android phone because I appreciate the open developer market that Google allows, rather than Apple’s close approval of each app in their store (again, lots of reasons to go iPhone as well, I know).

When it came time to purchase a tablet, I floundered between my options. Eventually, however, I chose an iPad. It simply felt right in my hands.

For me, the best aspect of having multiple devices is the portability options they give me. On a recent family trip to Central America, I decided to test my ability to ‘work from anywhere,’ leaving my laptop at home.

With only my iPad and Droid phone, I set off into the steamy equatorial jungle. All the while, I constantly checked in with work, staying on top of emails, answering inquiries, and closing deals. What tools made this possible?

  • Cloud Storage
  • Although myriad options exist, Dropbox has the controlling market-share on personal cloud storage, and for good reason. Storing your files on Dropbox is as easy as it sounds — drag and drop. On each device, there’s an icon that immediately accesses what I’ve dropped into the folder, even seconds before on another device. On my laptop, there’s a folder on my desktop that automatically syncs with each device.

    Best of all, I can right click on a file and get a ‘share file’ link. Need to send a spreadsheet to work, but you’re about to hook into a zipline above the canopy in Costa Rica? Click, paste, and send. Then fly away. Whether you’re sending an mp3 or a million-dollar account, file sharing is far beyond the olden-days of college campus and office networks.

    Although Dropbox remains at the forefront, Google launched Drive this spring, a competing platform that syncs with existing Google Docs accounts. Most importantly, it starts new users off with 5GB of free data, as opposed to Dropbox’s 2GB. Look for heated competition in the coming months on this rapidly-growing front.

  • Contacts on a Server
  • If losing your phone would be a complete tragedy for you (beyond the obvious monetary loss of replacing it), then you’re not using your technology to its fullest potential. There is absolutely no reason for anyone to ever meticulously type names and phone numbers into their phone again (unless they enjoy the process of recounting old friends and college pals they haven’t talked to in years). Both Apple and Google offer sophisticated contact storage that sync with each other. Lose your phone, and it’s a matter of minutes before every contact is uploaded back in its place, just like it was before you jumped off the high dive with your iPhone in your back pocket.

  • Calendars
  • Daily and weekly schedules may be the avenue that Google and Apple have done the best job matching up. My office utilizes iCal invitations for meetings and conference calls, but I have my calendar completely organized in Google Calendar. Fortunately, a couple of clicks sync these up to the point that I don’t even have to open iCal and approve of a meeting that’s scheduled. It immediately appears in my Google Calendar. Best of all, both an hour and ten minutes before the call, I get a quick beep on my phone reminding me not to be the guy who dials in five minutes late.

In the last three years, we’ve seen remarkable advances in syncing between devices and competing platforms. With the advent of the Pebble watch, we’ve immediately seen the type of demand that will emerge for any device that works seamlessly between operating systems.

From Amazon to Facebook, the major players recognize the synergy that comes with creating syncs to competitors’ software. Just look at the recent integration of Tumblr posts to Facebook’s Timeline for a prime example. Now, if we could just get Apple to allow Flash on the iPhone.

Christopher Wallace, VP of Sales and Marketing for Amsterdam Printing promotions, has more than 20 years experience in sales and marketing. At Amsterdam, a leading provider of custom pens, mugs, and other personalized items such as imprinted apparel and customized calendars, Christopher is focused on providing quality marketing materials to small, mid-size and large businesses.

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