From Crowdfunding Success, To Project Demise, Lumawake Bids Farewell

lumawakeLumawake has a fascinating crowdfunding history.  We originally discovered this product in 2012. The concept was the brainchild of Greg Laugle who came up with the idea way back in 1997.  He was working through college and he barely got any sleep. He loathed the alarm clock like many do at that time in life.  Jump forward a few years and Greg had done some research on sleep and he, along with his partner Drew Shepard, came up with the concept of Lumawake.  An iPhone dock that does more than charge your phone.  It also was a sleep aid that woke you gradually by increasing the level of light in the room using LED lighting.  The team also had an open API and envisioned a product which could integrate with the latest in home automation like starting a pot of coffee when the device realized you were awake.  Or turning off your TV when the device noticed you were asleep.  The concept was cool and the design was sexy.  What was missing was the funding to get the product off the ground.

Enter Kickstarter. Or Maybe Not.

Lumawake iPhone DockThe two engineers had always planned on using the new crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to launch their device.  They were working hard on their hardware and software.  Once everything was ready to go they just assumed being accepted on the crowdfunding platform was a formality.  They never considered they would be denied.

Lumawake was turned down by Kickstarter. Kickstarter had recently updated their guidelines in light of some challenges they had experienced with some other hardware campaigns.  The Lumawake team reviewed their submission and made adjustments so they felt they better matched the criteria of Kickstarter.  Chief Outreach Officer Scott Roehrick said at the time,

“When they made changes to their project guidelines we delayed our launch by a month and polished the prototypes to make sure the new criteria were met. We saw it as a speed bump but nothing another month of work couldn’t solve. Submitting our project plan seemed like a formality. We never even considered that we would be denied.”

Lumawake was denied a second time.

In true entrepreneurial spirit the guys attempting to bring the Lumawake dream to mass production reality were undeterred. They had read about another crowdfunding campaign which had similarly been rejected by Kickstarter.  Lockitron took the snub from Kickstarter and went about creating their very own crowdfunding platform called SelfStarter.  They used their own platform to launch a successful crowdfunding campaign, which raised over $2 Million, and then turned around and open-sourced the code so anyone else could do the same.  Lumawake saw light at the end of the tunnel.

Lumawake LogoLumawake launched their very own selfstarter campaign at the end of 2013.  By the end of December they had hit their crowdfunding goal of $150,000.  The perseverance had paid off and they had finally raised funds to get Lumawake to the next level.  Projected ship dates for the first batch of the iPhone dock were expected to be delivered to backers in early 2013.  The celebration was short lived though.  By January the guys at Lumawake had become painfully aware they had made a deadly strategic error.

In launching the crowdfunding campaign on Selfstarter, they had raised their goal. But they had also committed to not charging any backers accounts until the product shipped.  While the commitments were there – the cash was not.  The nascent company was simply starved of working capital.  They had no money to proceed.

From Bad To Worse.

By February the situation became more dire.  Lumawake realized that not only did they need funding to launch production, the $150,000 committed was far short of the true need.  They now put their funding needs at $250,000.  Shipping dates were put on hold.  Apologies were sent to backers as the founders searched for an Angel or VC who would be willing to fund their dream.

Finally Lumawake went dark.  Facebook, twitter went quiet.  It became painfully apparent the end was near. Backers reached out for possible updates but no responses were received. And now, today we have received word that Lumawake is no more.  In a note to supporters the eulogy was delivered:

Here Lies Lumawake RIPOur Thanks, and Farewell…

One of the most difficult things in life is knowing when to walk away from something. Lumawake has never been merely “something” to us, which makes this update all the more difficult. Over the course of nearly 4 years our team has enjoyed small and infrequent raptures of success and the wallowing lows that are synonymous with the word startup. In the last 6 months despite placing 2nd in the UCSD business plan competition, showcasing Lumawake at the largest Venture Summit in Southern California, taking countless meetings with industry partners, VC’s and investors we find ourselves no closer to our goal of raising the capital required to bring Lumawake to market.


Even as I write this it is hard to imagine that after all of the amazing accomplishments our team has achieved — features in Wired Magazine / TechCrunch, making the top 40 applicants for TechStars NYC, nearly moving to China for the first Hardware Accelerator Program and making hundreds of friends along the way — that we still “lost “? Alas, this is the grueling world of entrepreneurship.


As much as I would love to stand here and tell you I refuse to give up on Lumawake, some things are best relegated to the “experience” bucket. I sincerely apologize to the 1,125 backers that invested your faith and heart into our team and our vision. We are equally disappointed in the outcome but rest assured we did everything short of voodoo to get this project to the next level.


Although none of our journeys as entrepreneurs stop here, I can speak for the whole team when I say this has been an enormous learning experience for all of us. We are humbled, honored and feeling extra human today.


Signing Off,

Drew Shepard & Team Lumawake



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