Kewl App Alert: Chameleon Responsive Desktop (an Ottawa-based Kickstarter Project!) (Updated)

[Update: Chameleon had an issue with their Kickstarter account being owned by someone who left the venture, and had to re-open their project and re-solicit all their funds. It was a tricky ordeal, but they've once again managed to secure all their funding! Congrats to Gabor and the team :) I've updated all the links below to the new project, for those of you who want more info.]

Hubby's been a good little contributor to the blog lately, finding me all sorts of kewlness to share with the likes of you geeks. Not the least of which is this gem, a Kickstarter project called Chameleon.

Chameleon is an Android home screen that you can customize to behave differently depending where you are and what time it is.
Chameleon Home Screens can be set up based on GPS locations, WiFi networks and time ranges, allowing you to define which Home Screen is the most relevant for the situation. Patent Pending
I soooo want this. In fact, hubby and I have already both pledged on Kickstarter, and started planning our desktops. Here's what mine will include (so far):
  • In the morning: weather, headlines, the family Google calendar, the Twitters and my podcasts. 
  • At work: Evernote, my files and the Twitters. 
  • And in the evening: my Google Reader, Facebook, Gmail and the Twitters. 
(Hmm, that's a lot of Twitters. Ah, who are we kidding? You all know I live online.)

You can always tell a good idea when it seems like such a no brainer. And this seems like such. a. no. brainer. But if you ask me whether I set up any of my devices to work this way, I will have to blush and admit that it never even occurred to me.

Why Kickstarter

Now, in a fun little twist of fate, as I started watching the promo video I realized that the company behind Chameleon is Canadian. Even better, they're from Ottawa! In fact, Teknision president (and star of the video below) Gabor Vida was one of the main presenters at my beloved UXCamp Ottawa last Fall! Small world.

It struck me as a bit odd that a local company was funding a project through Kickstarter. Not because it's risky. In fact, Mitch Joel presented at a conference I was at last week and cited a stat: 70% of all Kickstarter projects were successfully funded last year. So it makes perfect sense. But it still doesn't seem that common. Especially in Ottawa.

So, I got in touch with Gabor and asked him why Teknision decided to give it a try and here's what he had to say:
Exposure and money. In that order.

Exposure: The halo effect of Kickstarter is amazing. The amount of press, comments and blog posts about it is almost overwhelming. Its now a full time job to manage communications. The great thing is that it's practically all pre-sales. That's a powerful message.

About the money part- Not all projects on Kickstarter are looking to completely fund themselves through Kickstarter. Sometimes it's more complicated than that.

I think that there are a great many projects, like ours, that are in that limbo space between raising venture capital and self funding. VC might not be the right answer for many reasons. Either a project is too small or does not have a clear enough ramp to exit or the value a VC brings doesn't match the stake they take. Or, which is more the case with Chameleon, the funding raised on Kickstarter would actually make it far easier for us to find capital.
It just makes a ton of sense, and it's a low risk way of companies to fund (and let's face it, pre-sell) products, apps, services, etc. But it begs the question: why aren't there more Canadian companies on Kickstarter? Are we too polite to beg? I mean, isn't this actually the perfect platform for Canadians? Kindly explain your idea and gently ask people to fund, with no consequence if they don't? You just can't find a more polite business model, can you?

More about Chameleon

Want to fund the project and get your hands on this awesome looking app when it becomes available? They've got 2 weeks left to find $10k more in funding. Check out below for more details and consider supporting a local company (and some nice people :).

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