The Most Funded Kickstarter Campaigns of All Time

Kickstarter is the crowdfunding phenomenon responsible for funding such projects like the Oculus Rift or launching a Tardis into space. The website allows people an alternate way  to raise money for their products or projects to get off the ground.Crowdsourcing allows companies to be funded directly by the customers and saves them the hassle of borrowing loans.

Crowdsourcing allows companies to be funded directly by the customers and saves them the hassle of borrowing loans.

The biggest problem that faces campaign backers is that nothing is guaranteed and every pledge is essentially a gamble because according to their FAQ, “Kickstarter does not investigate a creator’s ability to complete their project” and ultimately expects the users to “decide the validity and worthiness of a project” for themselves. From the $1.6 billion amassed since 2009, what are the highest funded Kickstarter campaigns of all time and where are they now? Did they follow through with their promises and where the backers satisfied?

Pebble Smartwatch

Pebble Smartwatch

The Pebble Time campaign launched on February 24, 2015 and successfully raised over $20 million. Rewards started at hefty $159 and watches will start shipping out as soon as May 2015. It’s too early to say whether Pebble Time will disappoint, but we can look back to the Pebble Classic campaign from three years ago for some insight.

The Pebble Classic also happens to be the third most funded Kickstarter and raised over $10 million. It released without a hitch, received great reviews, and the company offered great customer support. It’s only about $100 and does essentially everything you’d expect from a smartwatch, like a sync up to your smartphone and apps. The Pebble Time improves upon the Classic by adding a color e-paper display with up to 7 days of battery and a new timeline interface that highlights what’s important in your day. Pebble is the ideal Kickstarter success story, and their products are highly regarded around the web. Furthermore, campaign backers obviously trust the quality of Pebble’s products since the pledges have doubled.

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COOLEST cooler

COOLEST cooler

The Coolest cooler, as explained on their Kickstarter,

…is a portable party disguised as a cooler, bringing blended drinks, music and fun to any outdoor occasion.

They blew past the original $125,000 goal and raised over $13 million for this campaign which ended in August 2014. So why were people so willing to raise millions of dollars for a cooler? It’s a battery-powered cooler with a built in blender, Bluetooth speakers, USB charger for charging your smartphone, and a LED light. If you didn’t pledge during the campaign, it’s estimated to cost at least $300 when it is sold to the general public. This cooler itself carries tremendous utility, any avid campers, surprise music festival enthusiasts or just those planning an outdoor trip. People who pledged more than $165 should have started receiving their COOLEST cooler in February 2015 though many people are complaining surprise shipping fees, failure to receive donor surveys (to get the cooler specific to their needs), and other delays. Fortunately, it seems that the support team is responsive and doing their best to service those concerns.

Exploding Kittens

Exploding Kittens

Exploding Kittens is the fourth highest funded Kickstarter of all time and was made in partnership with popular website The Oatmeal raising over $8 million with rewards starting at only $20. This game, a “highly strategic and kitty-powered” version of Russian Roulette for people who like “kittens and explosions and laser beams and sometimes goats,” sports a sense of humor that’s definitely not for everyone but will make a great drinking game or a fun way kill time on a long road trip. Hopefully, it reaches expectations because this is the highest crowd-funded card game of all time. Backers are expected to receive their cards by summer 2015.

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OUYA was a great concept that tried to bring an affordable alternative to the traditional video game console experience. It raised almost $9 million in August 2012 and had become somewhat of a poster child for Kickstarter. At the time, it was proclaimed to be an independent console to compete against heavyweights like Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. A PS3 at the time cost $250 and the OUYA hit stores with a tempting $99 price tag. The OUYA offered exclusive and multiplatform titles, online multiplayer, and emulating/modding capabilities. The OUYA company delivered on what was promised and continue to sell in stores to this day, but the product never lived up to the hype. A lack of games is the biggest complaint among consumers and pledgers; Only 5 games are listed for release this year on the official website.

Your Kickstarter pledge will never be 100% secure from scammers. There’s always going to be products out there like iFind, which stole over half a million dollars from backers. However, It’s comforting to know that the most funded Kickstarter of all time weren’t total disasters and for the most part have followed through with what was promised to backers. It justifies crowdsourcing as a legitimate alternative to raising money – just use your head.

Honorable Mentions

Star Citizen

Star Citizen is a computer game that raised about $2 million and is the 35th most funded Kickstarter project but continued to raise money independently after the campaign. They have just reached a total just under $70 million. This 100% crowd funded game aims to make the ultimate space video game and aims for a full release in 2016.

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Oculus Rift

Oculus Rift raised about $2.5 million on their Kickstarter. This device allows users to experience video games as if they were there. Facebook bought out Oculus Rift for $2 billion, and many backers were disappointed with the corporate buyout for fear it would just turn into a Facebook advertising machine. However, the Facebook buyout is turning out to be beneficial for not just Oculus Rift but the entire VR industry as a whole. They’ve added validity to an industry that has been dead since Nintendo’s Virtual Boy, and they’ve sped up the process for the release of the final, stable version. Facebook is trying to create a device that will be compatible with more than just video games and trying to make Virtual Reality accessible for everyone. People who pledged $300 or more received a prototype in 2012, and the general public can expect to get their hands on the final version as early as winter 2015.

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