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Crowdfunding Without Kickstarter A DIY crowdfunding app cuts out the middleman.

By Michelle Goodman

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Photography by Eva Kolenko
Handyman: Selfstarter's Cameron Robertson.

When Kickstarter rejected Lockitron, founders Cameron Robertson and Paul Gerhardt built their own website to crowdfund their phone-enabled door-locking device. After 24 hours, they'd reached their goal of $150,000 in preorders. By the end of their 30-day campaign last November, nearly 15,000 people had reserved a Lockitron, with advance orders totaling almost $2.3 million for the San Francisco-based startup.

Dozens of other entrepreneurs got in touch, wanting to know how they'd done it. Robertson and Gerhardt decided to share the code behind their crowdfunding site at, which anyone can download and customize for free. It's an attractive option for tech-savvy product designers who don't meet the project guidelines of Kickstarter and its brethren.

At least six projects have run Selfstarter campaigns since late last year, Robertson says. Scout is one of them. The home security system, which begins shipping this year, has nabbed more than $300,000 in preorders since February. Bypassing traditional crowdfunding platforms allowed Scout to continue taking preorders beyond its monthlong fundraising window; it also meant not having to fork over a cut of the cash collected. "Selfstarter probably has saved us over $13,000 in fees," says Dan Roberts, Scout's Chicago-based founder.

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