Tucsonan's metal dice big hit on Kickstarter

2013-01-17T00:00:00Z 2013-01-17T09:48:18Z Tucsonan's metal dice big hit on KickstarterGerald M. Gay Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
January 17, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Amber Rix set the bar low when she launched a campaign on the crowd-funding website Kickstarter for her precision machined dice project.

The Pima Community College student hoped for $3,000 to create a small inventory of casino-standard dice made of aluminum, titanium, tungsten, Damascus steel and other types of metals, that she planned to sell online.

In a little more than a month, she received $153,000 in pledges.

More than 2,000 backers from around the world gave to Rix's project, with 46 of them kicking in $490 or more.

It was one of the highest-funded, Tucson-based campaigns ever launched on Kickstarter, according to site spokesman Justin Kazmark.

"It blew me away," said Rix, 20. "I was shocked. It was unbelievable."

Rix chose to raise funds through Kickstarter, a site that allows people the ability to give money to creative and innovative projects, at the suggestion of a friend.

The idea to create specialty dice came to her while creating shapes in an introduction to a computer-aided drafting class at Pima.

Rix had no idea her concept would produce such widespread interest.

She received the bulk of her financial backing from board game enthusiasts.

After the campaign's initial launch in early December, forums across the Web, sporting names like boardgamegeek.com, lighted up with conversation about the project, giving Rix an international audience.

The Sabino High School graduate received support from places as far flung as Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, India and Japan.

"One night I woke up to 115 emails, all asking me about what they could buy," Rix said. "Some wanted them for resale. Some wanted them for their gamer friends."

Local board game enthusiast Grant Hawkes pledged $12 toward the campaign.

Hawkes, a software developer, had donated to Kickstarter campaigns in the past but was pleased to find one he liked in Tucson.

"When I was a kid, I used to go to the hobby store and they would have dice made of wood and stone," Hawkes said. "They were very artistic. I thought it was cool someone locally was making something similar."

Now that the fundraising is over, Rix has to fulfill her end of the bargain.

In exchange for their contributions, investors were promised different sets of dice made from different materials, depending on how much they contributed.

She estimates the company she contracted to fabricate the product, Cybernetics Research Labs, will have more than 6,000 pairs to create within the next few months.

Most of the $153,000 will go toward production and packaging costs, as well as the creation of surplus dice for future sales. After Kickstarter takes its cut, about 5 percent, Rix estimates she'll have 5 percent to 10 percent left over for future projects.

She continues to marvel at the amount of support she received. "I'm really surprised at how quickly it took off," she said.

Did you Know?

Kickstarter is a crowd-funding website that allows anyone with Internet access the ability to financially support projects from budding young artists, inventors and entrepreneurs. To date, more than 2.5 million people have helped fund an estimated 30,000 projects through the site.

Contact reporter Gerald M. Gay at ggay@azstarnet.com or 807-8430.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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