Kicked into gear: 6 Chicago startups that saw success through crowdfunding

by James Risley
January 31, 2017

Great ideas are just the first step to building a great product, but getting funding is the real hurdle in turning your idea into a reality. While you could turn to traditional funding means, crowdfunding lets you build buzz and gain fans before your product ever hits the shelves.

With the rise of sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, crowdfunding has never been easier. And Chicago companies are seeing huge success from crowdfunding.


Amount raised: $255,603

Kickstarter is known for taking outlandish, futuristic ideas and turning them into reality. With Tovala, cooking like the Jetsons is nearly here. Just scan the prepackaged meal Tovala sends you, pop it in the special Tovala smart oven, and it will get cooked to perfection. Temperature sensors, cameras and heat work together to make sure any meal is done just right, from fish and veggies to steak and potatoes. The startup has gotten both Kickstarter success and incubator funding to help it launch sometime this year.


Amount raised: $626,599

Digital creations are easier to make than ever, but you still need specialized skills to build things in the real world. But with Inventable's Carvey, digital ninjas can easily transfer their computer-created designs into real objects with a desktop 3D carver. The company exceeded its Kickstarter goal more than 12 times over in 2014, expanding its lineup of desktop design tools. 


Amount raised: $293,712

Many office workers dream of standing desks, but Cubii lets you stay seated while being healthy. The under-your-desk elliptical connects to a smartphone to track your workouts, and its design keeps you comfortable while burning calories. Cubii added some VC funding to its bank account last year, more than tripling its Kickstarter fundings, but only after the product started to take off.


Amount raised: $157,404 and $239,189

For some people, wine comes with an unpleasant aftertaste that can usually be chalked up to sulfates. Ullo selectively filters out those impurities to ensure full-bodied flavors without the lingering aftertaste. The company turned to both Kickstarter and Indiegogo to raise money, and parlayed their crowdfunding success into a full-fledged company that’s looking to expand beyond a one-off hit.  


Amount raised: $703,818

When you always have a great camera with you, it’s easy to amass a huge collection of photos. Sure, you don’t want those huge digital files taking up space on your device, but surrendering them to the cloud means giving up some control and opening you up to massive hacks. Monument lets you store photos on your own personal drive safe at home, while still maintaining access from anywhere with an internet connection.


Amount raised: $159,180

Chicago-based DIY home security system Scout Alarm wasn’t quite up to the regular crowdfunding sites’ regulations when it needed to start raising money. So instead of struggling to make ends meet or taking traditional funding, it built its own crowdfunding system. Not only did that allow it to begin raising funds right away, but it also let it keep more of the money it raised instead of giving a cut to Kickstarter or Indiegogo.


Images via listed companies

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