What Zack Danger Brown’s Potato Salad Can Tell Us About The Internet Of Things

Crowdfunding is big (really big).  How big is it?  ? Big enough that Zack “Danger” Brown posted his first project on Kickstarter requesting that users donate $10 to fund his first potato salad. One week and over 1/3 of a million shares later, Mr. Brown’s potato salad has commanded over $40,000 in pledges.  Ridiculous? Some may think so. However, some may say that Zack Brown’s potato salad can provide us with some insight as to where the Internet of Things is going.
Crowdfunding, at its heart, is about emotional connection to a product or individual. Investments are not necessarily driven by the viability of the startup, its P&Ls, Supply Chain or what Angel Investors have provided funding.  Rather, it is about what piques interest, whether it be a summer side dish or a connected device. Because of that, tracking how people invest their money on crowdfunding platforms can, in some respects, help foreshadow the future of technology. Based on some of today’s trends, there are a few (non-food) movements that appear to be quickly gaining momentum.
First, there is the“Where is my stuff?!” movement: Now I, like many of us, have a propensity to misplace things – often at the most inopportune time. It is usually when I am running out the door with 2 minutes to spare before I need to start running a practice for a team of frenzied 3 year olds that I realise… my keys have gone missing and are nowhere to be found. Apparently, I’m not alone here because helping people find lost stuff is a burgeoning industry. A number of new companies like Tile, TrackR, XY, Findster and iFind have developed “finding technologies” so you need never lose your keys, luggage, wallets, smart phones, dogs or cats ever again…at least not for long. These products attach to your things and use a variety of methods to tell you their whereabouts.  Some have already gained a measure of popularity (Tile, for one example, raised $2 million in funding).
There is also the “I can’t get to my stuff because my battery is dead” movement: Legion Meter, Go Plug Bags, CHARGEKEY, Umbrella USB, SPOR, Gokey, Fuelbox, XS Powercard occupy this increasingly cluttered space. The movement appears to be born from two strange bedfellows: an increasing reliance on smartphone applications and the notoriously insufficient smartphone battery life. There are many different form factors that approach the issue from slightly different angles (quick chargers, chargers built into bags, chargers shaped like credit cards, solar chargers, etc.). As this movement has attracted over $2 million from investors, it screams out for more advancement in native battery technology…and fast.
Finally, we have the “What’s in my stuff?” movement: This is still a bit niche-y but has real potential to affect our lives in a substantial way.  One participant, Tellspec, has already raised $380,000. Although there are different variations of the various products in this space, the gist is the same…they analyse and identify what is in my food, drink or environment. As a parent of a child with life-threatening food allergies, this is the one I am BY FAR the most excited about because one of the applications is designed to determine what allergens are contained within a particular food. They can also tell you if there are pesticides on your apple or how many calories are in that baked potato chip.
Online everywhere, crowdfunding investors are speaking volumes about what they want, what they want to connect with and, in turn, are providing a small but fascinating glimpse into the future of the Internet of Things.

Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go perfect my potato salad recipe.