The launch of Sony’s First Flight crowdfunding platform is one of the most innovative corporate moves of 2015. First Flight is launched to support business ideas and unique products which do not fit in Sony’s mainstream line, yet they are promising to capitalize on a market opportunity. In fact, Sony looks directly to potential customers for financing rather than institutional investors, thus establishing strong customer relationships. Direct contact with retail investors enables the sharing of ideas and the development of common practices to bring those ideas to fruition. Additionally, it delivers higher customer value and customer satisfaction and ensures timely sales operations which are necessary for Sony’s business size.
First Flight is an online platform that provides a comprehensive suite of services, including crowdfunding in Japan. The platform is created according to the Kickstarter setting, the leading crowdfunding platform for creative projects of any field, including music, arts, design, photography and more. Potential sponsors may visit the informational page of each project, which provides details about the goals of the particular crowdfunding. Additionally, the creator of the project can upload photos and videos in order to convince contributors to join. Once someone joins a First Flight crowdfunding project, they can follow the project’s development through the platform.
First Flight has a vision
First Flight aspires to become the leading platform for crowdfunding in Japan. Through the development of an internal framework that fosters new product launch, the platform facilitates direct and interactive communication with the customers and it seamlessly connects all the phases of crowdfunding a new project. Additionally, “First Flight” aims to bring together innovative Japanese startups with their customers to generate an emotional bond that could shift more contributors to innovation.
Sony’s crowdfunded projects
Although it is not common practice to ask for customers to fund the next venture, Sony’s crowdfunding projects have already convinced the public. First Flight has already launched three crowdfunded projects, the FES e-ink watch, the MESH Smart DIY Kit and the HUIS remote controller. The first two have been funded by the public using Makuake.com, the leading platform in Japan and Indiegogo.com, the global crowdfunding website. The e-paper remote controller has already raised nearly $40,820 through direct funding from First Flight platform and the goal is $200,000.
Currently, First Flight is available to Japanese customers only. However, if the platform manages to become a leader in crowdfunding in Japan, it may seek expansion to international users. Sony has not confirmed such plans yet.