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The Most Successful Crowd-Funded Campaigns

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At iiNet, we believe everyone has limitless potential. The incredible advancements in technology, particularly the Internet, have opened up opportunities for us to truly reach that potential. What was once impossible is now within reach, if you’re willing to take the risk.

One of the greatest examples of this is online crowd-funding. Crowd-funding websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are helping to make people’s dreams a reality – whether that dream is to start a technological revolution or simply make a potato salad. The websites provide a platform for people to put out their ideas, and if others believe in those ideas, they can fund them to help bring them to life.

Through crowd-funding, the best and most popular ideas can be directly supported by the potential customer base. The creator estimates a cost per person required to make and ship the product and the backers put in that amount of money and receive the product when it’s made. That is the ideal situation, although just like any other type of investment, there are risks involved with crowd funding.

Despite putting in the requested amount of money (or more), backers may receive a product of lower quality than they expected or worse, no product at all. There is always a degree of risk when investing in a product which does not yet exist. Yet, for the few failures that have occurred, there are some major success stories. Here are a few of our favourite.

Oculus Rift

Oculus-Rift-5

One could argue that the Oculus Rift kick started the whole virtual reality (VR) movement, which is ironic because it started out as a project on website Kickstarter. It’s hard to believe the same company that was bought by social networking giant Facebook for a whopping $2 billion had such humble beginnings.

At just 17 years old, Palmer Luckey had built the prototype of the first Oculus in his parent’s garage, tinkering with parts he had extracted from the few expensive, heavy, low-resolution VR headsets he had collected. For less than $300USD he managed to create a headset that was lighter and far more advanced than any existing headsets and its low production cost meant it could be viable as a mainstream product.

Excited about his breakthrough, Luckey began reporting on his work to a gaming message board, where it was seen by the legendary programmer behind the game Doom, John Carmack. Carmack asked to buy a prototype and Luckey generously sent him one for free. This generosity paid off in spades when Carmack took the device to gaming convention E3 with a repurposed version of the game Doom 3 for a demonstration. The demo built up a huge amount of excitement for the Oculus Rift. Palmer struck while the iron was hot, dropping out of his college journalism degree, putting together a team and building his company.

The company created a Kickstarter with a campaign goal of $250k – a goal which was exceeded within the first 24 hours when they had raised $670k from 2.7k backers. By day 3 they broke the million dollar mark and went on to raise over $2 million. In just 601 days from the day the Kickstarter began, Facebook acquired the company for a cool $2 billion – that is a very short time to go from a teenager tinkering with machines in your parent’s garage to one of America’s richest entrepreneurs!  Luckey is continuing to work on the Oculus post-acquisition.

3D printing pen 3Doodler

 Girl Doodling Eiffel Tower

3D Printing is one of the most exciting tech movements at the moment. 3D printers are able to produce some amazing things, but they’re not exactly the most portable devices. Shrink a 3D printer right down into the shape of a pen and you have the 3Doodler: a 3D printing pen you can use to create 3D artwork. The nifty piece of tech was an unexpected hit when it launched on Kickstarter in 2013.

Small toy Company WobbleWorks formed 2 years prior to launching their successful Kickstarter campaign for 3Doodler. Founders Maxwell Bogue and Peter Dilworth came up with the ingenious concept while watching their 3D printer printing out toy prototypes. The printer would occasionally make a mistake, leaving a gap in its prints, which meant the whole thing would need be printed again. Bogue and Dilworth needed a way to fill in those gaps without having to do a full re-print – from that need, an idea was born. The idea: a pen that could heat plastic “ink” and use it to draw in mid-air. The plastic would cool instantly to create a solid 3D structure.

With a prototype in hand, they took to the Internet with a Kickstarter goal of raising $30k. They met their target in just a matter of hours and raised over a million dollars in total for the campaign. Seeing their product’s success, WobbleWorks continued working to improve the design and started another Kickstarter campaign 2 years later for the new 3Doodler 2.0. Once again they set a $30k goal and this time it was smashed within mere minutes. They raised over a million dollars for their reinvented model, making it the first piece of hardware on Kickstarter to raise $1 million twice. The company was even nice enough to offer a 50% discount on version 2.0 to their original backers.

Pebble Watch

pebble

Well before Apple Watch, the original smart watch was Pebble. Riding his bike each day, Eric Migicovsky thought about how convenient it would be if his wristwatch could take calls while he was cycling. Using parts extracted from a Nokia 3310 he built a prototype of a “smart” wristwatch. He formed a small team that put together a few trials and raised a relatively small amount of funding through a Y Combinator investment, but it wasn’t enough.

That’s when they took their latest model Pebble to Kickstarter where it not only smashed its goal of $100k in 2 hours, but gained a whopping $1 million in only 28 hours. In a couple of days it had blown up to $11 million in funding from over 50k backers, becoming the most-funded Kickstarter at the time. People were excited by the sleek wearable device which could connect to both Android and iOS phones, ran useful apps and had cool customisable features.

It was perhaps a little too popular and became a victim of its own success, suffering a few production hiccups and trouble meeting shipping deadlines to their unprecedented number of backers. Still, the company managed to sell over a million watches and start a few more successful Kickstarters for subsequent models of watches. Though interest in smart watches is starting to cool off a bit and competition is rising, Pebble is still chugging along and is hopeful for the future and Migicovsky says he’s in it for the long haul.

Cards Against Humanity

CAH

You may have come across this game at a party, or perhaps you’ve seen grandmothers play it on YouTube, but before this crude little card game became a household name, it started out as a small Kickstarter campaign. Given the great success and cult following of the game, it may surprise you to learn this wasn’t started by a savvy businessman – it was 8 friends from Chicago who grew up together from primary school and shared a wicked sense of humour.

Hanging out, the gang liked to play board and card games, and sometimes even make up their own. They introduced Card Against Humanity (then called “Cardenfreude”, a play on the German word schadenfreude) to a New Year’s Eve party in 2008, where it was so adored by their guests that many asked for their own copies. The group obliged, printing off a few copies from their parent’s home printers and word quickly spread about this hysterical party game. More people began asking for copies and it was then the group realised that the game might be a viable product. They put together a Kickstarter with a goal of $4k to fund boxed versions of their “party game for horrible people”.

It didn’t reach its goal as quickly as some of the other campaigns in this article, meeting the target after 2 weeks, but when the campaign had concluded a month later it had raised over $15k – more than tripling its initial goal. The campaign was a great success and people loved the game that was incredibly simple to learn and outrageously funny. By the year 2013, the game had generated an estimated $12 million in revenue and the company is still cruising along today and making new cards – though they don’t like to think of themselves as a company in the traditional profit-making-machine sense. The group has stuck to their morals and have always been more interested in having people play and love the game than turning a profit, which is why they offer a free, printable version of the game on their website.

Have you ever backed a crowd funded campaign? Let us know in the comments below.

Photo Credits:

Oculus

3Doodler

Pebble

Cards Against Humanity

7 comments

  1. Richard Ash says:

    have been with iinet nearly two years originally with Adam internet before iinet took them over the adam service was so good then dropped off when iinet bought them out
    the service of iinet needs a good overhall to improve by 300% can not recommend this servoice or any associated company to any one looking for another provider free of iinet association

    • Leo Yarnold says:

      Hi Richard,

      Thanks for taking the time to post. Its always concerning to hear a customer of an acquired business state their dissatisfaction as we’ve always sought to improve services levels, rather than decrease them. What are your main concerns? What would you fix? What would satisfy you most and make you happy again? This is an opportunity for you to have your say, so feel free to reply.

      – Leo.

  2. JOSH says:

    Haha, ‘The Mode Successful Crowd Funded Campaigns’, but you leave out Star Citizen? The most crowd funded project of all time? Well researched.

    • Cahli Samata says:

      Hi Josh, Thanks for your input! We definitely considered Star Citizen but didn’t think it quite made the cut yet as we’re still waiting to play the full release :)

  3. Glenn says:

    A story about crowdfunding that mentions the International platforms but not the Aussie ones.
    Shout out to Pozible.com who have aided many Aussie films/books/projects get off the ground.

  4. Bob says:

    No mention of the biggest crowd-funded project of all time: Star Citizen. To date it’s raised nearly $120M.

  5. Stephen Clint says:

    Interesting comment!.. I have now been with iinet for 11 years and 4 months and can honestly say that I have been happy with the long term relationship. I am near the end of the telecom line and so don’t get great speed but can’t blame the provider for where I live!. On the times I need to get things happening again I always found iinet helpful and eager to get things right again… I even took my home phone and mobile (inc mobile data) over to them as a bundle and this saved me quite a bit as a package deal so again iinet has been a good experience for me. I note the owner of the above comment has not replied with any constructive response (as yet!) and would encourage him to do so as maybe one of your suggestions may be of benefit to the rest of us users too… although I am quite happy with the service I get from iinet I would never be unhappy to see something tweaked and provide an even better experience. I think that the fact that Leo (iinet) has responded to the above comment is showing they are interested in our satisfaction… I guess we can all improve and we can all find flaws in others performance but for me, I think that those who are receptive to a criticism and are willing to try to make their service the best the can… well… they can have my vote! So it would be interested to know what the above owners problems are … maybe I have the same problem and have missed it?

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