Kickstarter campaign sets Maine record
Rockport — In the world of online entrepreneurship, the Midcoast has acquired a special distinction: it is the home of the most-funded Kickstarter project in Maine, also the most-funded sunglasses project on Kickstarter, according to the crowdfunding website.
Entrepreneur and attorney John Galley posted Orion4Sight to seek funding for what he and his business partner, Kirk Kreutzig, are calling “sunglasses on steroids,” eyewear based on military technology invented and patented by Kreutzig. With an original goal of $9,000, as of Tuesday, Sept. 2, the project had garnered almost $190,000 in pledges from 1,612 backers, who have ordered more than 2,000 pairs of the glasses. Support has come from all over the United States and around the world.
The commercial version of the glasses features darker lenses than the military version, Galley explained. They provide better contrast with crisper, better defined images, he said. He added that some people say colors look more intense through them; they also ease eyestrain in bright light. The target market for the product will be outdoor sports enthusiasts and others who spend a lot of time outside. Unlike designer sunglasses that derive their cachet from a label, “We have something that provides a performance difference,” Galley said.
Galley and Kreutzig were boyhood friends in the suburbs of Chicago, where Kreutzig still resides. Prior to setting up Orion4Sight about a year ago, Galley had invested in his friend's companies and had served as general counsel for them. These businesses all make vision enhancement products for the military, Galley said.
The two are now equal partners in the sunglasses business, for which Galley handles marketing and promotion, he said. “Kirk is the technical genius; I'm the business guy,” was how he described the division of labor between the two partners.
Regarding Orion4Sight's Kickstarter campaign, Galley said, “Its phenomenal success has surprised us as much or more than anybody.” He went on to explain his strategy in seeking funding on the site. Since a campaign gets no money if it falls even one dollar short of its goal, it is important to set the goal realistically but conservatively, he said. He and Kreutzig had other means of raising money, but chose to use Kickstarter so they would not start out in debt or having to share control of the business with another investor, he said. It also made sense to use this funding source because many people who fund Kickstarter projects are interested in technology, and might help to spread the word about the product.
“They are people who enjoy looking for the newest widget … well, we have one hell of a widget,” said Galley, who reviewed the Kickstarter profiles of many of his backers.
Those supporters get the satisfaction of supporting a product they believe in, and, for a contribution of $80 or more, they will get one or more pair of the sunglasses. The 50 pair of glasses available for a contribution of $80 have all been claimed, so now a minimum contribution of $95 is required to get them. The introductory retail price will be $190.
The money raised beyond the initial goal will help pay for new patents, shipping expenses and other aspects of launching the product on the commercial market, Galley said.
He and Kreutzig want to create “an Internet-driven brand,” Galley said, because it is the most convenient business model for them, with no need to find and nurture relationships with many bricks-and-mortar stores. Instead, they will use Fulfillment by Amazon on the amazon.com website to market and sell their product. They will simply package the sunglasses and send them in bulk to Amazon, “then just wash our hands of it,” Galley said.
He said the glasses will eventually be available with prescription lenses, but was not sure how soon that would be.
Orion4Sight's Kickstarter campaign continues until Friday, Sept. 12. To get involved, go to kickstarter.com and search for the company's name.
Sarah E. Reynolds is copy editor for the Courier Gazette and Camden Herald.
Sarah E. Reynolds has been a reporter and writer for more than 20 years, winning awards from the Maine Press Association and other professional organizations. She loves to read, ride her ATV and play word games.