What It's Like Raising $1 Million In Less Than 10 Hours To Crush The Xbox

ouya controller

Photo: OUYA

OUYA, a Kickstarter project that started literally hours ago, has already collected more than $1 million in funding—and still counting.This is extremely impressive for a crowd-funding project that started at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time.

OUYA is a $99 Android-powered box that’s open to any developer for hacking. That means you can crack it open, play with the hardware, and develop any kind of Android application for a television.

By embracing the hacker community, OUYA is making a strong, alternative play to the rest of the devices gunning for control of the living room. And with good developers come good apps and good hardware—and a better end-user experience.

In addition to running Android applications, OUYA is going to carry a ton of games that you can play for free. Developers, by default, have to make part of their games free to play.

But instead of raising money through traditional means to build the console, which is difficult for a hardware company, OUYA decided to try and raise $950,000 on Kickstarter. It’s since blown past that goal.

We caught up with Julie Uhrman, CEO of OUYA, to find out what it’s like to raise $1 million in a matter of hours. Here’s what she said:

  • OUYA’s ready to go—now the company will work on extra features. The team will use the extra cash to work further with developers to bring better applications, games and features to the console when it’s ready to go.
  • The timeline hasn’t changed. OUYA is still just about to enter development, so this is more of a pre-order phase.
  • Still, the team was ecstatic at work. “Everyone was mashing the refresh button every five seconds,” Uhrman said. 

Here’s a lightly-edited version of the transcript.BUSINESS INSIDER: What’s it feel like to hit $1 million?

JULIE UHRMAN: I haven’t looked at it in a minute, but it’s amazing. It’s totally incredible, we’re completely blown away. We struggled over the amount that we wanted to raise, we wanted to make sure we’d be able to fund game development and build a phenomenal product. We want to change things, and it looks like the world wants to too.

“The team, they said they are having a very unproductive day. It’s impossible to work when you’re hitting refresh every 5 seconds.”

The team, they said they are having a very unproductive day. It’s impossible to work when you’re hitting refresh every 5 seconds. It’s just amazing to get such a level of support, Kickstarter is such a phenomenal platform. Bring your ideas to market and have people say that they want it by putting dollars in, instead of philosophically supporting it in theory. This is such a big idea, to disrupt something that hasn’t changed. The fact that it’s really resonating, we hit our goal and we’re continuing to succeed and my email box is blowing up, it shows people wanted something new.

I have the best team in the entire world. We got great support from developers, they’ve been hitting Twitter and getting giddy. We have the most amazing friends and family that after 10:30 a.m. haven’t stopped working. They’re sending out emails, everything. The idea just really resonates. Something that welcomes the hacker community, that’s inclusive, that’s affordable.

BI: What will you do with the extra funds you guys are bringing in?

JU: We had a lot of things we wanted to do, but we were not getting excited too early. Now we have the opportunity to take a step back and make some of those new ideas a reality. We’re going to reach out to the community and ask them what they want. We’re going to keep adding to this product, make great tools, we’ll be announcing that type of stuff in the coming future. It’s just not old enough to even write it down in advance, this result is just unbelievable.

BI: What happens next? Does it go into production right away?

JU: It doesn’t change our timeline, we have a lot of work to do. The great thing is, the support we’re getting from backers—both gamers and developers—we always knew we had a great content library at launch and now it should be reinforced. It’s super exciting when you get this kind of support from people at the beginning, not at the end.

We’ve seen good traction on all of the rewards. The most popular is the console for sure, that makes sense, our console is a developer kit. All the tools you need are with the developer kit. It totally makes sense, we’re gonna try to come up with some additional great ideas that will pop up as we get further and further on develop.

BI: Sounds like you guys are pretty excited. How confident are you in the project now that it’s passed that barrier?

JU: Everyone always says, build it and they will come. Kickstarter is the complete opposite. They will come and you will build it. It’s so counterintuitive to how you think about hardware. Kickstarter’s just a phenomenal platform to get people on board. It’s super exciting and it’s totally energizing and you have more on the line. You have people you have to deliver for. We can all be a lot more eloquent had we not been working around the clock. It’s awesome to have a concept and have so many people make it real.

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