KICKSTARTER KICK: Minnesota No. 3 in nation for crowd-funding - KMSP-TV

KICKSTARTER KICK: Minnesota No. 3 in nation for crowd-funding

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When most people think of technology start-ups, Minnesota is no Silicon Valley -- but that's starting to change. When it comes to crowd-funding websites like Kickstarter, the state is third in the nation.

A study by the University of Toronto shows Minnesota trails only New York and California when it comes to tech companies raising money through Kickstarter, a website that allows people from across the world to donate toward seeing a project come to life.

With just a few taps on a mobile device, people can turn on lights, lock doors or program different areas of their homes. That's possible thanks to SmartThings, a Minneapolis-based tech start-up that builds mobile apps and the devices they interact with.

"It really is about making peoples' lives easier," explained co-founder Ben Edwards. "It's like the 21st-centure version of 'The Clapper.'"

SmartThings just finished a round of fundraising, raking in more than $1 million.

"If people like your idea and are willing to fund it, you can take the next 8-9 months off and do it," Edwards said.

That fundraising effort didn't start with deep-pocketed investors either. The company took off on Kickstarter, which bills itself as a way to bring creativity to life. Entrepreneurs and artists alike can promote their ideas -- from a new restaurant to a documentary film -- and Internet users can either donate anything from $10 to $10,000 to get the project going or pass as they continue to surf.

"Kickstarter can either allow you to fail fast or succeed based on the community's feedback," Edwards said.

Scott Litman, who helps identify some of the most promising Minnesotan entrepreneurs told FOX 9 News new tools like Kickstarter and a growing support system for innovators are changing the culture of risk-taking in the state.

"One of the great things about a bad economy is: It's one of the best times to start a business," Litman said.

When it comes to tech start-ups in the state, Litman said Minnesota entrepreneurs tend to do less self-promotion than the coasts.

"I think Minnesota technology is less brash," he said.

Now, he thinks the Canadian study is finally showcasing the talent of the state's start-ups and potential.

"We have a much greater heritage of entrepreneurship than people give us credit for," Litman said.

Admired companies like 3M, Best Buy and Medtronic all got their start in Minnesota, and Edwards said his colleagues and competitors on the east and west coasts need to be reminded of the talent in the Midwest.

Online resources:

- Kickstarter: http://www.kickstarter.com/
- SmartThings: http://www.smartthings.com/

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