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Kickstarter adds next step: crowdtesting

Most entrepreneurs go to Kickstarter seeking money to turn an idea into a viable product. Already flush with cash, Alex Gizis looked to the crowdfunding site in search of enthusiastic testers. Gizis’ technology startup, Connectify Inc., raised capital in 2011 from a strategic investor to develop technology that improves wireless-Web connections. Gizis then needed to figure out whether anyone would buy a product that he had based on the breakthrough. That’s where crowdfunding came in. “We said, ‘If we can get $50,000 based on videos and nobody even trying the software, we’ll know there is a market of untapped demand,’ ” Gizis said. Kickstarter and peers such as Indiegogo are breaking new ground. For a half decade, these crowdfunding sites have helped aspiring filmmakers, comic-book creators and Web entrepreneurs in need of a few thousand bucks get an inaugural product rolling. Now, cash-rich, venture-backed startups are using the sites to find users and reviewers of their technology – instead of having to tap the networks of their friends, cousins and friends’ cousins. It’s a twist on what has become an increasingly popular way to raise money for new ideas. Some 4.7 million people have pledged more than $760 million to […]

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