#DigitalSkeptic: Big Crowdfunding's Day May Have Passed Already

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Nick Evans might just be holding the entrepreneur's Holy Grail in his hot hands: He can get to real money for next to nothing.

"We just finished raising $2.68 million dollars online," said Evans, CEO of Reveal Labs, the San Francisco-based maker of the Tile, an attachable Bluetooth personal property tracking device expected to ship this spring. "And we did it all without a traditional VC or Web-based crowdfunding platform."

"We are directly responsible to our backers, and that's where I want to be," Evans said.

Evans began raising my Digital Age capital formation consciousness a little more than a month ago, when the two of us first met for coffee at a Las Vegas trade show. Evans and partner COO Mike Farley have managed to get 50,000 or so strangers to turn over nearly $3 million in cash for what is basically nothing more than a good idea and some marketing smarts -- all without a traditional angel investor. Or private equity or venture capital. Or even a slick, Web-based crowdfunding app such as Indiegogo or Kickstarter.

Evans and Farley "self-started" their funds by rolling out their own open-source Web-based capital formation platform, then marketing it directly to potential backers and customers. "You do come to respect what crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter do when you build a funding tool all by yourself," Evans said. There were crashes and false starts. But he is firm that for all its headaches, controlling the end-to-end fundraising mechanism directly gave his hardware startup the best chance to succeed.

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