The 17 most successful Kickstarter projects of all time and where they are today | Tech News
- “Veronica Mars”
For many entrepreneurs, Kickstarter represents a level playing field where good ideas can find people with the cash to help make their dream a reality.
Just look at the success of the legendary Potato Salad, where a guy tried to raise the funds to make, well, potato salad – and ended up raising over $55,000, throwing a potato party for charity and even publishing a cookbook loaded with 24 potato salad recipes.
Indeed, without Kickstarter, we’d never have the Pebble smartwatch, highly anticipated games like “Shenmue 3,” or the “Veronica Mars” movie.
But not every good idea survives contact with the real world, and we’ve seen a lot of high-profile flameouts from ambitious Kickstarter projects that just couldn’t deliver, like the “world’s thinnest watch.”
And then there are weird, bad crowdfunding projects like the case of the Indiegogo campaign that promised it could build gills for humans, but that’s a whole different issue.
Here’s a look at the most successful Kickstarter projects of all time, and where they are today. Spoiler alert: Despite being acquired by Fitbit in late 2016, and the forthcoming shutdown of a lot of its best features on June 30th, Pebble shows up a bunch.
Before the fidget spinner fad took off, there was the Fidget Cube, a vinyl desk toy designed to help you focus. The 2016 campaign raised $6,465,690 and was released into the mass market with good reviews, one of which dubbed the doodad “a baby toy for adults.” It sells for $20 on the company’s website.
- Antsy Labs/YouTube
Source: The Verge
In 2016, Peak Design held a Kickstarter campaign for a trio of svelte bags for phorographers, and raised $6,565,782. Its bags retail for $39.95 to $289.95.
- Peak Design
“Reading Rainbow,” the beloved 1980s kids’ TV show, became one of Kickstarter’s earliest success stories in 2014 with a $5,408,916 campaign to make a “virtual field trip” app for smartphones and tablets. In 2017, though, the app was renamed “LeVar Burton Kids Skybrary” after Burton, the show’s host, lost the rights to the “Reading Rainbow” brand.
Source: The Current
A board game based on “Dark Souls,” a popular and fiendishly difficult fantasy-action game, raised £3,771,474, approximately $5,376,000 in US dollars. It launched in early 2017 and was the reigning champion for the most funded board game for a while…
- From Software
…until the sequel to nightmarish horror game “Kingdom Death,” “Kingdom Death: Monster 1.5,” swept up $12,393,139 on Kickstarter over the course of its funding campaign. It’ll be available in late 2020 and will sell for $400. Both games are known for their graphic art and intricately-designed miniature game pieces.
- Dice Roller TV/YouTube
“Bloodstained,” a stylish new game from legendary “Castlevania” designer Koji Igarashi, garnered $5,545,991 and is slated to release sometime this year. Earlier this year, the team released the $10 “Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon,” which became available within the last month.
- Kickstarter/Kohi Igarashi
The producers of “Veronica Mars,” a movie based on a fan-favorite teen-detective TV show, raised $5,702,153 on Kickstarter in 2013. The movie got positive reviews and would go on to gross $3,485,127 worldwide.
- “Veronica Mars”
Joel Hodgson, the creator of the cult hit “Mystery Science Theater 3000” — where Hodgson and his crew of robots heckle bad movies — raised $5,764,229 to fund a new season of the show. The show’s 11th season, as well as a collection of 20 classic episodes, came to Netflix in 2017.
Neil Young raised $6,225,354 for the $399 Pono Music player, billed as “the best possible listening experience of your favorite digital music.” It wasn’t well received: Ars Technica referred to the Pono as “A tall, refreshing drink of snake oil” in a review.
In early 2017, Young pronounced the Pono dead, blaming record labels for hiking the price of high-quality music files.
Source: The Chicago Tribune
“Shenmue 3,” the long-awaited follow-up to a cult-hit Sega fantasy-adventure game series, raised $6,333,295, plus even more from a follow-up campaign run by creator Yu Suzuki himself. It was delayed from 2017 into late 2019.
The Ouya, an Android-based video-game system, raised $8,596,474 on Kickstarter, and then got a $15 million investment round from Kleiner Perkins. The Ouya turned out to be a commercial flop, and the company sold its software assets to Razer in July 2015.
Baubax, manufacturers of “The World’s Best Travel Jacket,” with 15 distinct built-in features, raised $9,192,055 on Kickstarter in July 2015, and then another $2 million or so on Indiegogo in September 2015. A new version of the jacket, the Baubax 2.0, has racked up $4,164,626 on Indiegogo.
“Exploding Kittens,” a party card game co-created by internet cartoonist Matthew Inman, better known as “The Oatmeal,” raised $8,782,571 in early 2015. At the time, it was the fastest-funded Kickstarter of all time. The game has since released for smartphones, and the team has released more games, like “You’ve Got Crabs.”
- Facebook/The Oatmeal
The original Pebble smartwatch was the company’s first product, which offered an e-ink-based screen that gets long battery life, and raised $10,266,845 in 2012 before shipping out in 2013.
- My Pebble Faces
Pebble appears a few more times on this list, but you should know that the company sold itself to Fitbit for $23 million in 2017. Following that acquisition, Pebble is turning off a lot of its most useful features, like replying to texting and emails, on June 30th.
- Antonio Villas-Boas
The “Coolest Cooler,” pitched as a project to make a “21st century cooler that’s actually cooler,” is a “portable party disguised as a cooler,” with a built-in Bluetooth speaker, space to tuck away plates and other picnic goodies. It raised $13,285,226 …
… but production of the Coolest Cooler hit many roadblocks. It took years for backers to get their coolers, with the company at one point asking customers to pay another $100 or so to jump to the front of the line. At the moment, Cooler is taking preorders for a $400 model with a built-in blender, set to ship later in June.
The Pebble Time smartwatch holds the all-time Kickstarter record, with $20,338,986 raised. On its launch, the Pebble Time was a solid, well-reviewed alternative to the Apple Watch. But it’s one of the watches that will lose functionality in June.
- Pebble / Kickstarter
You can read our review of the Pebble Time here.
In case you weren’t sick of Pebble yet: The smartwatch company ran its third Kickstarter for a trio of new products, including the Pebble 2, Pebble Time 2, and the new Pebble Core fitness gadget, in mid-2016.
The campaign raised $12,779,843 for the Core, but since Pebble was on its way toward its demise later that year, the company announced it was refunding all backers. Still, it was still the third-highest-funded Kickstarter of all time, making Pebble perhaps the undisputed ruler of the fundraising platform.