BOZEMAN — Product Funder, a new effort that’s designed to spur consumer product development through crowdsourcing, has been launched in Bozeman.
Co-founders Stephen Sanford, David Yakos, and Dr. Joe Stanislao have launched the website, www.productfunder.com, to help inventors take an idea from inception to retail shelves.
“With the rise of crowdfunding, this is a step to let inventors take control,” Sanford said. “A lot of inventors get to a certain point but can’t afford the last step such as tooling costs or prototyping.”
Product Funder offers an automated system that guides inventors through the multiple steps required to bring a product to market.
An accepted project proposal gains a user access to Product Funder’s Trusted Partner Network, which is a vetted group of industry contacts that help with every step of product design, development and manufacturing.
Without a central resource like Product Funder, inventors face a time consuming process of seeking out multiple entities for services like securing intellectual property rights and developing a functional prototype.
Sanford and Yakos are principals of Salient Technologies Inc., a product design firm based in Bozeman.
Stanislao is an adjunct professor in mechanical engineering at Montana State University.
“Crowdfunding is such a valuable tool for showcasing an idea and raising capital — but none of the existing platforms know consumer products like we do. So, we applied our knowledge of the industry and product development process to the crowdfunding model and came up with Product Funder,” Sanford said.
Product Funder can also be called “accountable crowd funding.”
With consumer products, there are more steps to the process than other traditionally crowdfunded projects, such as artistic
works or music.
Given the increased level of involvement, Product Funder has introduced the Medals System that allows each step in the process to be rated and evaluated.
During a brief video pitch uploaded to the site, inventors have the opportunity to prove that they have completed the various steps they claim on the path to having a final product ready for pre-sales.
It is also possible to have a third-party audit their project and review their medals. Inventors and small businesses who make use of the Product Funder platform will also inherently benefit from the founders’ combined 80 years of experience in product development and engineering.
“We are kicking off the launch of Product Funder with the release of the Folf Club, the ultimate disc golf launcher. The Folf Club is already well on its way to being funded and into production.” Yakos said.