As little as a decade ago, the term "crowdfunding" barely registered a blip on our collective cultural radar.
Since then, it has become one of the primary tools for financing a business, with the popular online platform Kickstarter leading the pack. As of 2020, more than $4.6 billion has been raised through the platform to fund a staggering variety of businesses, from card games to smartwatches.
Kickstarter has benefitted from the changing financial landscape that arose following the 2008 recession, which saw traditional funding avenues restricted as banks and institutions tightened their belts, while alternative loan programs have proliferated.
However, the lack of regulations and rules required to fund an idea through Kickstarter has greatly widened access to business financing, as anyone with a good idea now has a shot at seeing their entrepreneurial dreams come true. Without further ado, here are the most successful Kickstarter campaigns in history.
The Big Winner: Oculus Rift VR Headset
When it comes to the greatest level of success from a Kickstarter campaign, the popular Oculus Rift VR headset is the clear winner. According to Betway Casino, the original Kickstarter campaign raised a staggering $250,000 in just four hours. Since then, Facebook has invested $2 billion to date, and sales of the headset have skyrocketed.
Most Funding via Kickstarter: Pebble Time Smartwatches
When it comes to funding raised purely on Kickstarter, rather than later funding rounds from other companies, the short-lived Pebble Time smartwatch brand is the clear winner. The entrepreneurs behind the idea raised half a million dollars in a mere 17 minutes, before going on to raise over $10 million in total. Unfortunately, the watch never caught on and stopped selling in 2018.
Highest Number of Individual Donations: Exploding Kittens Card Game
One of the benefits of Kickstarter campaigns is that thousands of individual donors can give small amounts, meaning that entrepreneurs don't have to rely on a single funder. The biggest beneficiary of this feature to date has been the team behind the quirky card game Exploding Kittens, as they managed to raise close to $9 million via donations from 219,000 backers.
Most Raised for an Unfinished Product: Star Citizen Video Game
Unfortunately, a downside of Kickstarter is that the entrepreneurs behind it are not as accountable as they would be if they were funded by a bank or VC firm. This was aptly demonstrated by the tale of Star Citizen, which launched a Kickstarter campaign back in 2012 to release a space-themed PC strategy game. While raising a whopping $180 million over several campaigns, thanks to 2.1 million backers, there is still no trace of the game whatsoever.
In the dynamic world of tech startups, a good idea and a little bit of luck can propel even the most inexperienced entrepreneur to the top of the big leagues. Kickstarter's success is a testament to the freedom offered by the digital realm, whilst also highlighting its pitfalls.