Skip to main content

Creating Technology in Public

John Dimatos (Kickstarter), Aurora Aurora (Kickstarter), Danielle Applestone (Other Machine Co.), Al Linke (Open Gadgets LLC), Adam Rodnitzky (Occipital Inc.)
Location: Conference Center - Golden Gate Room
Average rating: ****.
(4.00, 1 rating)

Over the past five years a growing number of designers, technologists, and engineers have chosen to create technology products in public using Kickstarter.

This open and participatory approach to product development enables creators to source funding directly from communities of users, rather than traditional investment channels. To successfully develop products alongside a community of enthusiasts, creators have quickly embraced a culture of transparency, from the first sketch to a final shipping number. At Kickstarter, we describe this simply as ‘show your work.’ This development process offers new opportunities and an equal number of challenges.

What are the benefits and challenges of “showing your work” before the finished product exists? How does it change the way creators present their ideas, and backers experience making? Examining the diverse stories found in completed Kickstarter campaigns, we will focus on emerging patterns that exemplify creating in public.

Telling a great story: a project’s reward is more than just a product, it’s following along in the process.

Effective demonstrations: Sharing the full user experience of a product in progress.

Milestones of production: Why sharing a timeline with specific tasks is a critical part of building trust.

Early feedback: How backer response changes the product lifecycle.

This two-part session will begin with a short presentation where John Dimatos will talk about the state of technology projects at the intersection of software and the physical world on Kickstarter. By highlighting trends, he will showcase the most interesting niches and the breadth of products that are being brought to life on Kickstarter.

The second part will feature a panel with three successful Kickstarter creators. The panel will be moderated by Aurora Thornhill, and will explore what it means to create technology in public by addressing important themes including maintaining transparency during the product development process, building and managing a community of backers, balancing focus on a project with larger organizational goals.

Photo of John Dimatos

John Dimatos


John Dimatos is a Project Specialist for the Design and Technology categories at Kickstarter. Previously he was head of applications at MakerBot Industries where he oversaw the launch of the original replicator, the Soho retail store, and the 3D photobooth. John has developed a disaster simulation game for UNICEF, sold oriental rugs, and graduated from NYU’s ITP program in 2009.

Photo of Aurora Aurora

Aurora Aurora


Aurora Thornhill is the head of the Project Specialist Team at Kickstarter but specializes in projects in the Technology category. She started at Kickstarter two and a half years ago as a member of the Community Team where she did everything from customer support to reviewing project proposals. She graduated from Bennington College in 2007 with a degree in Computing and Visual Arts, focusing on interactive installation.

Photo of Danielle  Applestone

Danielle Applestone

Other Machine Co.

Danielle is a cofounder of Other Machine Co., a San Francisco-based company focused on joyful creation experiences. Danielle’s expertise integrates a strong background in science and technology, education, and entrepreneurship.

Armed with an advanced degree in chemical engineering and a software programming hobby, Danielle cofounded her first company in 2003 – a profitable boutique internet software as a service (SaaS) company that she still operates. Following her PhD at the University of Texas at Austin, Danielle went on to work on a DARPA-funded education project to develop digital design and CNC (computer numerically controlled) manufacturing tools for the classroom. When the DARPA funding for the project ended, Danielle then bootstrapped financing with her team to continue their work, eventually launching Other Machine Co. and focusing on removing the barriers to desktop CNC manufacturing.

Danielle grew up in the small town of Mena, AR and is the first college graduate of her family. As such, Danielle is particularly passionate about education -especially science and math for women and girls -, fostering work-based apprenticeship programs, and encouraging the development of businesses that provide relevant and meaningful mentorship for the future workforce in both urban and rural areas.

Danielle has a BS in chemical engineering from MIT and holds a PhD in materials science and engineering from the University of Texas, Austin. Several of Danielle’s battery materials have been patented and subsequently licensed. She is also the proud mother of an eight-year old son who absolutely can’t wait to have an apprenticeship at Other Machine Co.

Al Linke

Open Gadgets LLC

With 20 years of experience in the IT industry, Al Linke is Director of Information Technology at a Fortune 500 company. Outside of his day job, Al is an active member in the open source hardware community and maintains two open source projects: PIXEL: LED ART and the DIY Magic Mirror.

Photo of Adam  Rodnitzky

Adam Rodnitzky

Occipital Inc.

Adam Rodnitzky is a serial entrepreneurial with a passion for startup marketing. He has co-founded three startups, two of which have been acquired: (acquired by in 2000), and ReTel Technologies (acquired by ShopperTrak in 2012). Adam leads marketing for Occipital, Inc., a Boulder, CO and San Francisco, CA based startup that creates state-of-the-art mobile computer vision software, as well as the recently launched Structure Sensor. Adam received his BA from Wesleyan University, and his MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.