5 Toronto products that deserve your love through crowdfunding



Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have changed the world of venture capital in much the same way iTunes changed the music business over a decade ago.

For the less-than-tech-savvy among us, this means consumers can finally have a say in what products get off the ground by directly funding the ideas they love, and eventually owning an example of their investment. Entrepreneurs get the critical seed money they need to produce innovative one-off projects that would normally have to endure lengthy grant applications or corporate focus groups.

In Toronto, the results have been both awe-inspiring and hilarious. Here are five of our favourites.

The Game Changer: TellSpec

Platform: Indiegogo
Status: Funded 
Goal: $100,000 USD
Raised: $386,392 USD
Price to own: A variety of pledge packages are available, with the most economical way to get your hands on a TellSpec being $150 (currently sold out). If you just can't wait, you'll have to part with $300 to score one before it hits the market.

Does that have gluten in it? Is my organic produce actually pesticide-free? Given the level of obsession around knowing absolutely everything about food, it’s no surprise that TellSpec nearly quadrupled its funding ask. This handheld spectrometer analyzes the food on your plate or in the grocery store alse with laser precision to detect chemicals, allergens, neurotoxins, mould, and bacteria. The results are sent to a cloud-based service synced to your smartphone. Expect to see them on the market around August of this year.

The Novelty: Limited edition SqueezeFord Blue

Platform: Kickstarter
Status: 31 days to go
Goal: $300 
Raised: $1,709 CAD
Price to own: $19

Get ready for the upcoming mayoral election with this pint-sized polyurethane foam rubber replica of the world’s most infamous municipal politician. This exclusive edition features Ford in blue. Only 180 will be made. Unlike the man himself, SqueezeFord is 100% safe for children and is guaranteed not to curse in Jamaican Patois

The Life Hacker: Toronto TTC Token Card

Platform: Kickstarter
Status: Funded
Goal: $2,000
Raised: $4,998 CAD
Price to own: $6

How many times have you arrived at TTC turnstile only to get stuck behind someone digging through his or her pockets for a token? This simple and elegant credit card-sized solution securely fits eight tokens. 

The Show Off: Sparrowscope

Platform: Kickstarter
Status: Not funded
Goal: $75,000
Raised: $7,179 CAD
Cost to own: $249 (Includes a kite.)

If you’re looking for a secret weapon to impress your Instagram followers, look no further. The Sparrowscope mounts a smartphone or iPod Touch to a kite line and wirelessly pairs it to a second mobile device on the ground to remotely rotate the camera in flight and take stunning aerial pictures. The free app lets users swipe the device in their hands to control the angle of the camera. Think of it as a low-tech surveillance drone for fun-loving park dwellers.

The Cute Factor: Little Robot Friends

Platform: Kickstarter
Status: Funded
Goal: $55,000
Raised: $123,659 CAD
Cost to own: $25 (Assembly required.)

Don’t let the adorable aesthetic and palm-of-your-hand size fool you. These are actual functioning robots. They can sense the amount of light in a room, hear you speak through a tiny microphone, sense your touch, and communicate with other Little Robot Friends. Their tiny 8-bit brains can be customized according to six personality metrics including brave or timid, funny or serious, introvert or extrovert. Each interaction with your new friend is stored as a memory. Tech savvy owners, or human friends, can write new code and add new sensors through the dock. Whether you’re looking for an educational gift for children or a new friend in the cubicle, it’s hard to ignore these little guys.

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