Triathlon-Inspired Watch Startup Is Up and Running

By Gabrielle Karol Small Business FOXBusiness

BareBands raising money for mix-and-match watches

Matthew Harrigan, managing director for the Grand Central Tech accelerator, is turning to crowdfunding site Indiegogo to support his own startup.

The clock was ticking the night before Matthew Harrigan was set to run the 2012 New York City Triathlon – and he needed a new watch.

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Harrigan’s watch band had just snapped, and so with just hours to go before the race, he used brightly covered rubber bands from supermarket broccoli to create a new one.

“And I wore it, and people loved the way the color popped on my wrist. It’s subtle and yet it gets the point across,” said Harrigan.

And so the idea for BareBands was born: A mix-and-match, modular watch system that lets people snap on brightly colored watch faces and bands for a fun new look.

Raising Money from the Crowd

With no previous design experience, Harrigan said he’s been working closely with a design firm and a Chinese manufacturer on the watches. But in order to place the first order, Harrigan is looking to raise $90,000 on Indiegogo, a crowdfunding site.

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One way Harrigan is looking to drum up support for BareBands is by creating bands that are affiliated with individual charities – think a hybrid of a watch and a Livestrong bracelet.

“I think people get inspired by supporting projects. And this happens to be what I think is an inspirational project, in that it’s very easy to affiliate each of these watches with a charity,” said Harrigan. “So I intend to sell several with charities that I support and am affiliated with, but individual users can set up their own charity watch to support whatever cause they’re interested in -- anything from a high school football team to multiple sclerosis.”

As of today, Harrigan has raised over $13,000 of the $90,000 goal with over a month left to go. But unlike some crowdfunding sites, the project will still get funded, even if Harrigan doesn’t reach the total goal. This means that supporters will still receive a BareBands watch, regardless of the amount raised. Donors who contribute $60 or more will receive a watch.

Supporting Other Entrepreneurs

In addition to working on BareBands, Harrigan is also serving as the director of Grand Central Tech, a technology accelerator located in New York City’s Grand Central Station.

Harrigan said the support from other new entrepreneurs has been a critical part of the BareBands journey.

“I liken it to the old Hair Club for Men commercials. I’m not just the president I’m also a customer,” said Harrigan. “It’s all hard. It’s maintaining confidence – you’re kind of all on your own. Surrounding yourself with people who are supportive is a huge first step, [and] I’ve certainly been lucky in that regard.”

“It’s all hard but it’s all really, really fulfilling,” he added.

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