Introducing GetSparked

A new partnership with GroupGets will help bring your projects to market!

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This post is part of a series of guest posts by GroupGets and their appointed experts to talk about project crowdfunding and early-stage product development, from successes to battle wounds.

It started with a chance encounter at the DEFCON 25 hacking conference in Las Vegas back in August 2017. Nathan was presenting a spectacular, automated safe-cracking robot to attendees. I was there with a team to monitor the airwaves for a rare but emerging type of wireless attack to assist the Event Goons, as they are affectionately called.

A team member sat in on Nathan’s demo and told me I had missed one of the best talks of the conference. I didn’t even know that SparkFun was presenting, so I was sorry to have missed it. About five minutes later, I saw Nathan setting up the demo in a lounge space. 0xF8? We had a quick chat and then decided to combine his safe-cracking bot with our wireless toolkit for an Ocean’s 11 style op throughout Vegas (ha).

safe-cracking robot

One of our boards had been selling on SparkFun for a couple years before this encounter, but we never met or took things past that. Shortly after Vegas I was at their Boulder HQ to meet SparkFun CEO Glenn. A few meetings and brainstorming sessions later, with more team members on both sides, we arrived at GetSparked – a direct pipeline for pro-makers, hobbyists, engineers and entrepreneurs to sell their passion projects on SparkFun after they get successful market validation GroupGets.

This is a purposeful partnership to ensure developers put the best product and user experiences forward before going to high volume production. Even today, there are massive funding raises on other crowdfunding sites with nothing ever shipping. The ability to create a catchy marketing video to raise significant funding has far surpassed the ability to ship - and that hurts everyone.

GroupGets + SparkFun = GetSparked

Similar to the way Nathan started SparkFun after being frustrated by a minimum order quantity for an overseas MCU, I started GroupGets in 2013 as a means to group-buy a wafer of ASIC’s from China that had a six-figure cost. I suspected others wanted to securely group-buy bleeding-edge components with impossibly high minimum order quantities as well.

People at that time were getting comfortable with funding ideas from un-vetted teams on other crowdfunding platforms (I blew $600 on a TubeCore that never shipped), but a basic platform to initiate group buys for real existing parts didn’t exist. Ever willing to be the boring platform that enables the ambitious on a budget, we built it.

Getting back to GetSparked – over time we expanded beyond group buys for parts and became friendly to vetted betas, mainly from people we know in the community who professionally built electronics. As we started to see betas from startups, pro-makers, and even billion dollar enterprises go from GroupGets to larger distribution, we wanted to enable more of it, simply because it’s fun for us to see early-stage ideas and teams go on that journey.

GetSparked is our way of formalizing and cranking that process up to 11, with a legendary platform like SparkFun at the end of the tunnel (who will also be introducing SparkX products to the GroupGets community from time to time through the program!).

Even though we’d worked on products that have ended up at Best Buy, Fry’s and Digi-Key, we were most excited when one of our thermal camera boards got on SparkFun for the first time. Must be something about those red boxes.

About the author: Ron is an EE and US inventor whose technical career has ranged from working (literally) over a mile underground on shock physics experiments to consumer devices and wireless security. One day he had enough with impossibly-high minimum order quantities for bleeding edge parts, and convinced a friend to help build GroupGets on nights and weekends. When not hacking or designing systems, you can find him on some type of board trying to hack gravity to squeeze a few more lines out of his aging skater bones.

Comments 10 comments

  • What if I’ve already had a successful kickstarter campaign and have a product in small production runs but I’d love to work to get my product in sparkfun’s catalog. Trying to partner with distribution is not easy. Is this platform for that as well?

    • D___Run___ / about 6 years ago / 3

      Either way! The choice is yours!

    • usuallyRonGG / about 6 years ago / 1

      Backing up D__Run__, we at GroupGets have always been good with products post Kick/Indie/Wherever. So bring it!

  • Member #666505 / about 6 years ago / 1

    Let us see if understood. GroupGet gets 10-20% cut, no one gets billed until it ships, and the project/manufacturer gets remitted after all funds have been received and shipments are complete. Noted that risk is mitigated for the backer, but other than parts and labor, is there any other up-front level of risk to the manufacturer? Is the project required to expose all IP?

    • Basically the manufacture has the send a product sample, or some evidence that is is real so no IP is exposed. I think its a true win-win. Groupgets essentially as as a escrow between the manufacture and the buyer to minimize risk to both sides. I would not confuse it with the kickstarter model of pre-paying for an idea before it is ever created. The kickstarter model mostly ends in a loose-loose, as the backer waits for two years, and the creator spends everything on designing it and runs out of funds to actually build it. I think this groupgets get sparked program is ideal for makers. The workflow is make a cool project, friends and others all want one. so setup a GG to batch up an order of 100 or more to reduce the costs. then GG release the funds, order the 100 then ship. And you can pass the shipping to GG so you don't have to hassle with painful shipping logistics. After the 100, if sparkfun likes it, they take over everything non fun (manufacture marketing, shipping, support) so you basically just work on the fun part of adding features to your product to sell more.

      • usuallyRonGG / about 6 years ago / 3

        Ron from GroupGets here. Thanks for the reply Member 103412. You are spot on with the GetSparked workflow. We only bill the backers when the campaign successfully reaches its goal and closes. We then send the funds directly to the manufacturer minus our fee. If there is any profit remaining, we send that directly to the campaign initiator. For example, the AudioMoth team builds in some profit per unit to fund their developers and we are 100% on board with that as they are constantly innovating for their users.

        Just to confirm, no IP is required other than a working demo unit that we vet. We don't need to examine gerbers or source code. You can send those directly to your manufacturer of choice.

        • Chris3D / about 6 years ago / 3

          I'm sorry, I'm still unclear as to how your service works. Do you help arrange manufacturing? Assembly? Packaging? Design? Or do you just vet the projects for feasibility and handle the transfer of funds from backers to manufacturers/project creators? It seems the biggest point of failure of the Kickstarter model is manufacturing - both optimizing the design for manufacturing and navigating the unforeseen (to the inexperienced) issues and delays that arise during manufacturing. It's not clear if your service is more on the developer's side - using experience to help successfully navigate the development and manufacturing process, or on the backer's side - increasing the likelihood for success by simply vetting a developer's project and manufacturing arrangements.

          • usuallyRonGG / about 6 years ago / 1

            Hey Chris3D, great questions. The answer is yes to help with manufacturing, assembly, packaging, and design if needed. Over the next few weeks we will refine our message to make that more clear. At the same time, we're agnostic to whoever a developer wants to use for their production in the event that they already have a network of choice.

            GroupGets was founded by hardware developers for hardware developers and is constantly producing its own hardware on a weekly basis for large distribution channels. That said, we frequently introduce our campaign initiators to our network of vetted on and offshore manufacturers, assemblers, and even design service providers (hardware, software, mechanical, and industrial design) if necessary.

            We also buy parts for some teams because due to our volume, we usually get better pricing than a smaller developer and then we can cut the cost down for the backer. Admittedly, we have not been great at advertising all that we do and it's all built in to the basic fee. Design services from our partners does cost extra however and that's negotiated with them. If SparkFun picks up an item post GroupGets, then they may elect to manufacture the item in-house which would be pretty convenient in my opinion.

            So to summarize, we are on both sides - the backer and the developer. And by helping the developer as much as we can, we are also protecting the backer.

            • Chris3D / about 6 years ago / 2

              Thanks for the reply, it sounds great and I look forward to reading more. I have a few ideas in various stages of development, and the most daunting part for me to think about is definitely manufacturing, which I have zero experience with. Having help there would let me devote more focus to the idea itself.

              • usuallyRonGG / about 6 years ago / 1

                Awesome, that's a big part of what this is about. Thanks for the really good questions.

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