Although crowdfunding is a relatively new phenomenon, we’ve seen an incredible rush of projects that have found success through this funding route. Design projects, movies, even a Nikola Tesla museum have all been made possible through the contributions of crowdfunding participants, and the list continues to grow. Many of them have not only met their requested funding, but blew through their goals, some by hundreds of thousands or even a million dollars. These are some of the most successful and popular crowd funding projects we’ve seen to date.
Researchers from the MIT Media Lab have taken on the FORM1 project to create an affordable, professional 3D printer for the masses, and the masses responded with resounding interest. With more than 2,000 backers and nearly 3 million pledged (breaking through the project’s $100,000 goal), it’s clear that there’s major support for FORM1 and consumer-level 3D printing.
In 2010, Chicago designer Scott Wilson made history as one of the biggest successes to ever hit Kickstarter at the time. His creation, the TikTok and LunaTik wristbands, which converted the Apple iPod Nano into a watch, attracted 13,500+ backers, and almost a cool million in funding. He’d originally asked for just $15,000. With this initial success, TikTok and LunaTik are now sold by major retailers, including Amazon, Walmart, and yes, even Apple.
TikTok’s not the only watch that made it big on Kickstarter. The Pebble E-Paper watch with apps, iPhone, and Android has also been ridiculously popular, and it blew TikTok’s initial funding totally out of the water with nearly 70,000 backers and a whopping $10 million+, far surpassing their $100,000 goal. In fact, Pebble was able to earn $1 million in support in just 28 hours on Kickstarter.
- Elevation Dock:
Kickstarter loves design projects, and the Elevation Dock is no exception. Offering a better docking solution for the iPhone, Apple users flocked to this project and gave ElevationLab $1.4 million to create the dock of their dreams. Although the project ran into a hiccup when production ran late, and then Apple changed the iPhone connector, everything’s back on track and the Elevation Dock remains one of Kickstarter’s most successful projects to date.
- Amanda Palmer’s $1M+ music deal:
Amanda Palmer’s record deal is the highest funded Kickstarter music project ever, breaking the million-dollar mark for her record, art book, and tour with the Grand Theft Orchestra. Her original goal of $100,000 was reached within a day. Palmer has been so happy with her crowd funding success that she’s deemed this method of fundraising as the future of the music business.
- The Oatmeal’s Nikola Tesla museum:
Crowdfunding has been good to the arts and sciences, too, as Web comic The Oatmeal has raised over a million dollars on Indiegogo for a project to build a Nikola Tesla museum. Originally created to save the site of Telsa’s incomplete Wardenclyffe Tower, the project moved on to a museum after the tower was demolished, turning its former site into a science center honoring the inventor. The project raised more than $1 million in just 9 days, and ultimately received $1.3 million from Indiegogo. But the project benefited from outside success as well, maxing out their matching grant of $850,000 from New York state for over two million in funds going to create a “Goddamn Tesla Museum.”
Games often do very well on crowdfunding sites, and in Ouya’s case, a game console has also done incredibly well, recently raising in the neighborhood of $8.6 million, millions over its original $950,000 goal. Upon reaching this goal, Ouya’s chief executive, Julie Uhrman was proud to proclaim that this proves “consoles aren’t dead.” Notable backers of Ouya include Minecraft developer Marcus “Notch” Persson, Robert Bowling of Robotoki, and Brian Gargo from Robotoki.
- Double Fine:
The adventurous computer game Double Fine stands out as incredible, thanks to a lightning fast funding: this project was 100% funded in just over eight hours. Kickstarter deemed March 13th to be “Double Fine Day,” celebrating the project’s big finish as it raised $3.3 million from 87,141 backers.
Crowdfunding is a form of social networking, so naturally, it’s a great place to turn to in order to raise funds for an open source social network. That’s just what Diaspora did, bringing together four young programmers from NYU to spend the summer building the open source personal web server. The students blew through their original $10,000 goal to raise more than $200,000 from 6,479 backers. Reported to be among those backers? Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg himself.
- Stompy the Giant Spider:
Stompy the Giant Spider is a 6-foot walking spider robot that you can ride. Sound fun to you? More than 1,500 other people thought so too, helping Project Hexapod bust through their $65,000 goal to raise nearly $100,000 for the giant spider. The team behind Stompy is made up of student-makers, instructors, and a TA, bringing together their backgrounds as Battlebots builders, military robot designers, and professional programmers. With such great support, they’re well on their way to making their dream of large-scale spider robots a reality.
- Sedition Wars:
Although video games have been great on Kickstarter, board games haven’t enjoyed the same fervor, except for a notable few. Two-player board game Sedition Wars is one of them, bringing miniature figures and gaming together in a survival horror scenario. More than 4,000 backers chipped in to create the first installment of the game with almost a million in funding, way beyond the studio’s original goal of a measly $20,000.
- The Canyons:
Small studios, individuals, and students are usually the ones behind Kickstarter projects, but The Canyons features big names including Bret Easton Ellis, Lindsay Lohan, Braxton Pope, and Paul Schrader. In this project, Pope, Ellis, and Schrader are financing part of the film in order to maintain creative control, and fans backed them up, not only reaching their $100,000 goal, but beating it by nearly $60,000.
- Ministry of Supply:
Shirts from outer space sound pretty cool, so it’s not hard to understand why Ministry of Supply did so well on Kickstarter. In this project, four athletes from MIT came together to create business wear with more performance, borrowing technology from NASA. They launched on Kickstarter to great success, raising almost $430,000 from $2,798 backers eager to wear a performance piece of space apparel.
- The Glif:
Can you imagine that something as small as an iPhone tripod mount and stand could gather over $100,000 in backing? It can, and it did with the Glif, a project that attracted more than $137,000 in pledges, way beyond the project’s goal of $10,000.
- The Olympic City:
What happens to Olympic cities when the games are gone? This crowdfunded photography project explores what former host cities look like now. One of the most successful art projects on Kickstarter, they’ve attracted more than $66,000 from 1,500+ backers.
- The Order of the Stick:
Self-published webcomic The Order of the Stick has been self-published since 2005, and creator Rich Burlew found it difficult to keep older books in print. Thanks to Kickstarter’s $1.2 million, we’re sure he’s not having trouble with that anymore.
Like The Canyons, animated film Anomalisa has proven that established artists can do well on Kickstarter, too. Charlie Kaufman, writer of Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind started this project to create his first animated film. Thanks to Kickstarter’s $400,000+ contribution, Kaufman and his team are able to create this short film independently, and as they put it, “outside of the typical Hollywood system.”
- Shadowrun Returns:
Once a popular board game from the 1980s, Shadowrun made a return on Kickstarter to become a 2D role playing game for tablets and the PC. All told, the old-school game found nearly $1.9 million on Kickstarter for a full-fledged revival and then some.
The Nomiku project brings sous vide cooking to the home kitchen, a feat that was once out of reach due to expensive, complicated machines. Thanks to the pledges of more than 1,800 backers totaling $586,061, sous vide cooking is now possible at home with the Nomiku.
- Wasteland 2:
Another old favorite brought back by Kickstarter, Wasteland 2 resurrected a 1988 Electronic Arts game to resounding interest. Easily one of the most successful game projects on Kickstarter, Wasteland 2′s 61,290 backers pledged $2.9 million to bring it back.
- Ukiyo-e Heroes:
This Japanese art parody project is one of the most successful illustration projects on Kickstarter. Artists Jed Henry and Dave Bull asked for just $10,400 to bring their vision to life, but Kickstarter loved their woodblock prints and vision so much that they pledged an amazing $313,341.
- Project Eternity:
Yet another wildly popular game project, Project Eternity is a party-based RPG fantasy world for the PC. Created by an independent video game developer, Project Eternity was made possible by Kickstarter’s nearly 74,000 backers who contributed just shy of $4 million.
- The Age of Stupid:
Webcomic site Penny Arcade makes money and continues to operate like so many other websites do: with advertising. But people generally don’t like advertising, so the site took to Kickstarter to raise enough money to do away with all the ads. Offering different goal levels with rewards like removing ad locations and opening up content under Creative Commons, users contributed more than $528,000.
- The Art of Brom:
One of Kickstarter’s most successful publishing projects, The Art of Brom project set out to create the largest and most comprehensive retrospective published on Brom’s dark art. They did that, and more, becoming 1,960% funded thanks to 2,374 backers. All told, The Art of Brom attracted $235,319, far surpassing the project’s requested $12,000.
- The Porthole:
Many crowdfunded projects tease your imagination, showing you what’s possible in art, design, science, and beyond. The Porthole is one of these, offering a beautiful infusion vessel that allows you to artfully display cocktails, oils, teas, and any other infusion you can dream up. This project resounded with Kickstarter backers, becoming one of the site’s most well-funded design projects. The Porthole only asked for $28,500, but was able to raise $736,112, adding stretch goals including a set of custom glasses, tea samples, and silicone caps.