Crowdfunding is–to those who know how to use it–one of the best ways to showcase your product or service to a global audience of potential customers. With just a pitch and a prototype, thousands of creators have managed to fund their own projects, some of which have been incredibly lucrative and greatly exceeded their campaigns’ goals.
Here are ten Kickstarter success stories which showcase some of the site’s most popular campaigns and products:
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If there’s two things the Internet loves, it’s cats and games. From the mind-brains of Elan Lee (Xbox, ARGs), Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal), and Shane Small (Xbox, Marvel), Exploding Kittens combines the Internet’s two loves in a card game which managed to raise a whopping $8,782,571 USD by the campaign’s end.
The above video shows off the simplicity of the game: essentially a Russian Roulette style card game with some extra steps (and more exploding felines), it’s a card game that fares well at parties due to its relative simplicity and fun art style.
So why was it such a success? Well, a combination of being created by designers who already had a fan following, cashing in on “Internet culture” topics and being well-designed and easy to explain/play were the main reasons that the campaign managed to raise such a whopping amount of cash. The creators even went on to make a spiritual successor to the game called Bears vs Babies, which–despite having different mechanics–carried with it the humour and art style of Exploding Kittens.
Kickstarter loves its 3D printing projects. The crowdfunding website has an insane amount of them, and new 3D printer campaigns seem to pop up every day. The 3Doodler is an example of a project that was successful because it put a spin on something familiar: it’s a tiny 3D printer that can be used the same as you would use an ordinary pen.
Ease of use is certainly one of the reasons why the 3Doodler was so successful: a lot of people adore the idea of 3D printing but don’t consider themselves to be technically-minded and have no experience with CAD/CAM. They can, however, use a pen.
The pen works by releasing heated plastic filament which dries into a hard solid, so you can draw in the air, or around a glass/pot or similar. This campaign was successful because it falls into the category of “being a product which is fun to fiddle around with when bored.” In total, they raised over $2.3 million USD.
One for the gamers, Omni is described as a way to “move naturally in your favourite game”. Created by Virtuix, the Omni system is essentially an advanced version of a treadmill, which–when combined with your VR headset of choice–helps to create a more immersive gaming environment for players. Starting at $249 USD for a DIY version (which required some assembly), gamers were impressed by the relatively low price that the Omni was being offered for.
It also opened up a lot of discussions about how to promote healthier gaming, and created enough buzz to eventually secure just over one million USD.
Smart watches are incredibly commonplace now, but they were less so when the “Pebble: E-Paper Watch” campaign first appeared on Kickstarter back in 2012.
One of Kickstarter’s most successful campaigns to date, the original project secured over 10 million USD by its end. Backers were impressed by the watch’s functionality, customisation possibilities and relatively low price ($99 USD, which was a lot cheaper than a smartphone or tablet) and app developers were excited by the opportunities that the Pebble watch could present them, in terms of creating apps for a brand new platform.
The Pebble Time watches’ creators (Pebble Technology) went on to start a whole host of other smart watch based campaigns, including “Pebble 2” and “Pebble Time”, some of which you can view in the above video.
Another Kickstarter success story which proves that people just can’t get enough games is Rising Sun, a tabletop game by “CoolMiniOrNot”–a company which sells miniature figurines for use in tabletop RPG’s and more.
Whilst most of Kickstarter’s big gaming successes come from video games, Rising Sun is one of its most profitable tabletop/board gaming campaigns to date, earning over four million USD over the course of the campaign.
Inspired by Feudal Japan, Rising Sun combines fantasy and mythology with history in order to create a unique tabletop experience for 3-5 players. A combination of cool-looking minifigures and an interesting game setting helped Rising Sun to become one of Kickstarter’s most successful tabletop campaigns ever.
The Mini Museum was a treat for fans of zoology, geology and all things tiny and cool. Each one was a pocket-sized collection of tiny pieces of history, all individually numbered with different specimens of rocks, minerals and more contained within a transparent slab.
The Mini Museum’s success largely laid with the idea that it was something that appealed to a wide spectrum of people–from hobbyists to professionals–as it was a project that could be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of their knowledge of science. You don’t have to be a Professor to enjoy the Mini Museum (but it probably helps) and the product’s wide appeal was one of the things that helped it sell.
The project eventually secured over one million USD and went on to spawn several other Mini Museum descendant projects.
THE BANNER SAGA
One of my favourite games ever, The Banner Saga eventually began its life as a Kickstarter campaign, created by Stoic. Described by them as “a mature, story-driven, turn-based strategy game steeped in viking culture, by three game industry veterans”, The Banner Saga eventually secured over $700,000 USD from gamers who were intrigued by the potential offered in the game’s art style and mechanics.
A tactical RPG, The Banner Saga sparked interest in gamers who were interested in its fantastical, Viking-inspired setting (media like the Vikings TV show helped fuel this interest) and its unique art style. Players also compared it to the highly popular Fire Emblem series, citing its mix of RPG and tactical mechanics as well as its “choices have consequences in the game world” systems as being influenced by Fire Emblem and its predecessors.
Stoic went on to create The Banner Saga 2, and a third instalment is also in the works. Both secured funds via Kickstarter.
A product that some people feel falls under the “interesting but basically just a slightly unnecessarily expensive spin on a thing you can buy cheap already” is the Coolest Cooler, a cooler that puts your cheap plastic ice-pack boxes to shame. Whatever your thoughts on a cooler that can do things like play your music and light up at night so you can always see what you’re drinking, the project boasts a cool amount of money that has to be seen to be believed.
The Coolest Cooler’s success came mainly from the fact that it was a spin on a product people were already familiar with, just with some extra bells and whistles that made it extra appealing for people looking for an “entertainment centre” that was supposedly portable and durable.
Awkwardly, visiting the Kickstarter page shows you that a lot of people haven’t actually received their cooler yet, despite some polite updates from the Coolest Cooler team.
One of the most anticipated games of April 2017, Yooka-Laylee was developed by Playtonic Games (a company which consists of a group of several former Rare developers), as a spiritual successor to game series Banjo-Kazooie.
The campaign was so successful (partly owing to the large, enthusiastic Banjo-Kazooie fandom) that it was, at the time of its creation, the first video game Kickstarter campaign to reach $1 million USD in funding.
You can also check out our review of the game here.
I DRAW COMICS
To end our round-up of successful Kickstarter campaigns, we have a project that proves you don’t have to be an already established brand to reach your targets.
The “I Draw Comics” sketchbook is described as “the ultimate tool for practicing the basics of Comic Book illustration, page design and the art of storytelling”, and consists of a Moleskine sketchbook with reference guides for illustrative storytelling.
In total, 6,466 backers pledged $245,870 USD to fund the campaign, and unlike some of the other projects featured, all backers seemed to actually receive the rewards they paid for. A textbook happy ending!
Do you have another example of a Kickstarter campaign done right? Or do you perhaps have tips for companies looking to start their own campaigns? Let us know in the comments below!