Young inventor exceeds goal on Kickstarter

BOULDER — Daniel Haarburger is 2-for-2 when it comes to blowing away his crowdfunding goals on Kickstarter.com, with his latest venture, the Handleband.

The Boulder native and Stanford University senior computer science major’s next venture is helping others navigate the ins and outs of crowdfunding.

Haarburger, 21, set his crowdfunding goal for Handleband at $12,000. But the campaign exploded. By the time it ended in the wee hours of Friday, July 12, he had gained $120,213 in pledges.

The Handleband is a rubber mount that is designed to securely attach a smartphone to a bicycle’s handlebars. Haarburger came up with the idea after being pulled over for biking after sunset with a faulty bike light. He was told by the officer that he should use his cellphone for a bike light if in a bind.

For a $25 pledge, backers could preorder one of the first Handlebands made.

Haarburger said he had set his funding goal on Kickstarter about $8,000 below what he knew he needed to get the Handleband launched and into production. If he’d missed his mark, he would have received none of the money pledged. But he figured if he hit $12,000 that the endeavor would be validated enough in his own mind to come up with the rest of the money himself.

“That was a nonissue in the end,” Haarburger said. “It’s far surpassed what we were hoping for. … It’s a lot of work, but it’s nice to see some of that work paying off.”

What to do with all of the extra cash?

Haarburger said manufacturing already has begun on the Handleband, scheduled for a September release. Some of the extra funding will go toward further production and marketing costs, he said, and some will pay for development of a few other bike tools Haarburger has in mind.

Another chunk, however, will be dedicated toward creating online resources to help other individuals new to crowdfunding launch their own campaigns, creating a sort of directory of how-to articles and contacts for businesses such as video production companies that can help with the promotion of a campaign.

“There’s a lot of insights we’ve garnered, and those will be coming in the next couple of months,” Haarburger said.

Haarburger’s first Kickstarter campaign was for the WINGStand, a plastic stand that connects mobile phones and touchscreen tablets to Bluetooth keyboards and retails on Amazon.com for $14.95. He raised nearly $60,000 in that campaign, for which his goal was $9,500. Haarburger declined to specify sales numbers for the WINGStand since its launch a couple of years ago, saying only that it’s “a great wage for a student” and that it’s paid for his existence. The WINGStand’s success also helped Haarburger get the Handleband off the ground.

“It was really kind of the enabling factor that made all of this innovation possible,” Haarburger said.

Haarburger said he’s been approached by distributors in about 20 different countries interested in the Handleband as well as several in the United States. He said a final retail price hasn’t been determined yet, but that he’d guess it will be around $29.99.

“It’s been wild,” Haarburger said, “especially in the last couple days.”

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