There’s no doubt that Kickstarter has changed the way people bring products to market. Where before you needed to sell your ideas (and sometimes your soul) to a big corporation, now you can crowdsource the funding, keep your ownership and still get your product out there. The site has seen a number of tremendously successful fundraisers, but here are 10 of the most successful.
Double Fine Adventure
This is the one product that really flipped the script on the Kickstarter phenomenon. Video game designer Tim Schafer first came to fame with his titles for LucasArts, including "Grim Fandango." His company, Double Fine, has had some problems with publishers, most notably with the heavy-metal adventure game "Brutal Legend." So they decided to try a different tack and polled the community to fund an old-school adventure game like Schafer used to make. The response was monumental, with the project bringing in over $3 million, six times its goal.
Pebble E-Paper Watch
Technology startups are some of the biggest benefactors of Kickstarter. Innovative uses for technology that would normally have to pass years of focus testing are coming to market faster than ever before. One of the coolest projects is the Pebble E-Paper watch, which uses the same low-energy technology as the Amazon Kindle to create a wrist timepiece that syncs to your phone and can display the time in hundreds of different ways. The campaign has brought in over $9 million, so obviously this is something people are into.
One of the most popular categories on Kickstarter is iPhone and iPad accessories. Apple’s gadget is present in so many homes that there’s a thriving industry of inventors trying to make it better. One of the best things to come out of the process is the Elevation Dock. With praise from just about every tech outlet in existence, this amazing dock solves every problem that Apple’s doesn’t. They brought in almost $1.5 million for the project, so obviously they’re doing something right.
Another video game project that wildly exceeded expectations, "Wasteland 2" is the sequel to one of the most classic role-playing games of all time. The original "Wasteland" deposited players in the midst of a post-apocalyptic nuclear hellscape and challenged them to survive, inspiring a generation of games like "Fallout." Now the original designer has purchased the rights to the series and wants to take it into the 21st century. Because the funding platform raised enough money (almost $3 million), he’s been able to get original designers Alan Pavlish and Mike Stackpole back on the team as well. Gamers are slavering in anticipation.
3D printing is a fascinating thing, but what are the chances any of us will ever get to mess around with it? Well, if you were a backer of Printrbot, chances are pretty high. This innovative DIY project funded relatively inexpensive 3D printers for home use, able to create sculptures and other objects out of fused sheets of plastic. The creators aimed to take specialist technology and make it simple and affordable for the masses, and their total haul of $830,827 means that people are certainly interested.
TikTok+LunaTik Multi-Touch Watch Kits
It’s interesting that even though wristwatches are being made obsolete by cell phones, several inventors are still coming up with new and innovative things to do with them. Like the Pebble watch, the TikTok+LunaTik kits integrate Apple product with your watch to give you unparalleled portability and control. Using an iPod Nano, which you can get basically for free these days, these premium conversion kits allow you to carry it on your wrist and use it as a watch as well as a media player. They raised almost a million dollars for the project, and products are now on sale at their website and doing well.
One of the most interesting Kickstarter projects we have seen isn’t something you can buy. Diaspora is a social network designed for people who are sick of the endless privacy invasions of Facebook and the facile, surface-level interaction of Twitter. Over 6,000 backers believed in the concept strongly enough to donate $200,641, and the site launched in November 2012. The site works in a completely different way than most social networks, allowing users to host their own “seeds” and protect their information in unique ways.
Amanda Palmer: The New Record, Art Book, and Tour
Musicians have a lot to gain from crowdfunding. The traditional record company model has always taken both money and rights away from performing artists, and more and more bands are looking for ways to escape it. Boston-based musician Amanda Palmer, formerly of the Dresden Dolls, has leveraged her rabid fanbase into one of the most successful album Kickstarter projects the site has ever seen. With a number of amazing rewards, including the chance to get your portrait painted by the multi-talented singer, it’s no surprise this one has pulled in more than half a million dollars.
Indie Game: The Movie
Documentaries are thriving on Kickstarter, as dozens of filmmakers have sought funding for movies around such disparate subjects as industrial design and Kenny G. One of the biggest successes on the platform is "Indie Game: The Movie," directed by James Swirsky and Lisanne Pajot. The documentary follows the two-person team making "Super Meat Boy," a downloadable title for the Xbox 360. The original campaign perfectly snagged its target audience, bringing in $23,341. "Indie Game: The Movie" has screened at a number of festivals to rave reviews. After the success of the film, HBO reached out to the filmmakers and has commissioned a series based on the same subjects.
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The Order of the Stick
One of the biggest lessons that Kickstarter teaches is that a dedicated fanbase can be incredibly powerful. "The Order of the Stick" is a geeky roleplaying webcomic that has been published for over a decade. When the publisher who originally put out the paperback editions went bankrupt, the creators turned to Kickstarter to raise enough money to print them again. The response was absolutely overwhelming, with more than $1.25 million coming in the door. Providers of free content are finding that people are happy to give a little bit back.