It Ain’t Just Paint: Bare Conductive Gets $100K in Arrow Flash Funding

The Electric Paint Lamp Kit is the latest Indiegogo campaign to win flash funding from Arrow — and final recipient of 2017 — as part of the Arrow Certification Program. Arrow has given away $1,000,000 in flash funding to Indiegogo campaigners in 2017 — but there will be more flash funding opportunities in 2018.

Every company is looking for that special spark that will make customers light up with joy. Companies go to great lengths to make their products memorable, and for good reason: studies show that memorable products are much more likely to succeed in the marketplace.

But what if you’re in the business of changing the way the world experiences electricity? How do you make such a grand vision of the world stick in the minds of your potential consumers?

That’s the problem Matt Johnson, CEO of Bare Conductive, is tackling for his company, and he sees a DIY lamp-building kit as the key to flipping the switch.

Painting a bright future with conductive paint

Six years ago, the Bare Conductive team developed Electric Paint, the company’s core product, in an effort to redefine the relationship between everyday electrical devices and the environment they exist in. Electric Paint is just like any other water-based paint, except it conducts electricity, which means you can paint insulated wires, integrated switches, and intricate circuit designs onto almost any surface.

Electric Paint has gained a cult following among hobbyists, who are drawn to the paint’s unique ability to function as a power conduit, adhesive and electrical sensor, all in one material. “We have a lot of people who modify model trains using our paint,” Johnson says. “If you have a really beautiful model train, you don’t want to risk melting it with soldering irons.”

But for Johnson, Electric Paint has always been more than a niche product. He sees it as a way to challenge the fundamental way people interact with electronics, which still rely on physical wires to connect to a power source, a basic premise that hasn’t changed much for over a hundred years.

Realizing they needed to create hardware to show off the paint’s potential as a revolutionary product, the team got to work. “We started dreaming up a whole universe of devices around this material to get its best value,” Johnson says. That’s when the Electric Paint Lamp Kit was born.

Lamp Kit as a pilot light

The Electric Paint Lamp Kit is a do-it-yourself kit for building a fully functional lamp from a lightbulb, a piece of paper, and a tube of Electric Paint. Three types of lamps are available: the Touch Lamp, which has a simple touch switch; the Dimmer Lamp, which allows you to adjust the lamp’s brightness with the slide of a finger; and the Proximity Lamp, which uses a sensor to complete the circuit when your hand comes close.

While fun and useful in itself, the deeper purpose of the Lamp Kit is to illuminate the capabilities of Electric Paint. “For a lot of people, light is a shorthand for electricity. When you say electricity, they picture a light bulb,” Johnson says. “That’s a really powerful way to explain the function of the material in broad terms.”

The Lamp Kit is a way to make their core product more memorable and more accessible, demonstrating its revolutionary possibilities in a playful way, equal parts challenging and satisfying.

Rallying their community on Indiegogo

Hoping to draw on their active community of tinkerers, Johnson and his team knew early on that crowdfunding was the right way to launch the Lamp Kit. “For us, it was an easy answer because we’re such a community-driven company,” Johnson says. “To get this instant bi-directional connection with our community — when it feels like they’re part of the product — there’s just no replacement for that.”

Johnson also saw Indiegogo’s technical community as a primary reason to launch a campaign on the platform. “The people who propel our products forward the fastest are our technical customers,” Johnson says. “And as someone who’s backed a lot of campaigns, I’ve found that Indiegogo has very consciously grown a very technical community of the last few years.”

“Indiegogo is a just such a great platform to find those rare technical backers,” he says.

From Arrow Certified Technology to CES highlight

As soon as the Bare Conductive discovered the Arrow Certification Program, they knew it was right for the Lamp Kit project. And as a serial backer himself, Johnson understands the importance of the program for the broader crowdfunding community. “The certification program solves for one of crowdfunding’s riskier aspects,” Johnson explains, “which is that it is really hard to go from a prototype to a product that’s actually in everyone’s hands. The Certification Program is a very sophisticated response to that problem.”

As an Indiegogo campaign with Arrow Certified Technology, the Bare Conductive team is poised to contribute to Arrow and Indiegogo’s booth (#51033 in Eureka Park at the Sands Expo) at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January. Electric paint will be an integral part of building the interactive booth. “The technical function that people are going to be experiencing in their Lamp Kit is exactly the same as what will be happening on the walls,” Johnson says. “It’s exciting because the whole point of the lamp kit is to show people that the material is an interface you can use, and you can apply it to anything.”

A bright future with flash funding

As the latest Arrow flash funding winners, the Bare Conductive team now has an extra $100,000 to accelerate their product roadmap, branching out into conductive paint printing. “The lamp kit is awesome, and of course people like to paint with the material. But when you print with it, you create a low-cost piece of electronics that is super precise,” Johnson says. “Just imagine putting something under your doormat, so that when someone steps on it, you get a text message.”

Johnson is thrilled to see their strategy pay off and looks forward to further implementing their vision. “Now we can actually do the things we want to do in terms of cash flow, and we have a collaborator on board who can help us achieve those things as well. It’s going to change a lot for us.”

Flash funding opportunities continue in 2018, so join the Arrow Certification Program and see how Arrow can help you take your idea to the next level.