The 22 Biggest Crowdfunding Deals of All Time: Part 1

The digital age brought with it a wave of brilliant innovation and projects, and with these came a new platform for entrepreneurs to showcase their ideas to the world. Enter rewards crowdfunding, a fundraising method that looks at raising small amounts of money from large numbers of people, giving innovators a chance to turn their concepts into a reality.

Rewards crowdfunding differs from equity crowdfunding in that backers of a project simply donate money as a form of support, without earning equity in the company. Occasionally, some rewards crowdfunded projects offer a gift or prototype in return for the money donated. What makes crowdfunding so successful is that people tend to fund projects that resonate with them and their interests. As long as your concept is something people believe in, you will find success in crowdfunding.

This two part series will take a closer look at the world’s biggest rewards crowdfunding campaigns. This month we will check out the 20 biggest rewards crowdfunding campaigns of all time; next month seeing how they compare with the largest equity crowdfunding deals. Both have had some pretty impressive results, and it will be interesting to see how both forms of funding continue to gain traction over the next few years.

1. Pebble Time

$20,338,986 by 78,471 funders
May 2015 on Kickstarter

Pebble Time is a colour e-paper smartwatch that connects you with the features of your smartphone faster. It’s been described as the most effective Kickstarter campaign of all time. Thanks to $20 million worth of investment, this company is now able to employ over 130 staff and partner with huge companies like Mercedes Benz and eBay.

2. Coolest Cooler

$13,285,226 by 62,642 funders
August 2014 on Kickstarter

This product makes your standard esky look both boring and outdated. With all the ridiculous features you never knew you needed, camping and picnics just got way more fun. Think a blender, Bluetooth speakers, charger, and cutting board. It would also probably help you live comfortably out of your car.

3. Ubuntu Edge

$12,814,216 by 27,635 funders
August 2013 on Indiegogo

A smartphone with the capabilities of a PC, there is such a huge market for this that it was always bound to succeed. The Ubuntu mobile and Android OS phone converts into a full desktop PC. Perhaps one of the reasons for the enormous amount of funding received after just a month is that the Ubuntu Edge will only be exclusively available to Indiegogo backers.

4. Flow Hive

$12,250,066+ by 36,605+ backers
April 2015 on Indiegogo

Hailed as the greatest innovation in beekeeping since 1852, this Byron Bay based company has invented a beehive that gives you honey on tap. It comes with everything you need (except the bees) to start your own hive, so you can enjoy fresh honey with minimal disturbance to the bees inside.

5. Pebble Watch

$10,266,845 by 68,929 funders
May 2012 on Kickstarter

Basically the Pebble Time with a soft silicone strap, the Pebble Watch is an affordable Android smartwatch. It gives you notifications at a glance, hosts convenient apps, and can run for up to 7 days on one charge.

6. Exploding Kittens

$8,782,571 by 219,382 funders
February 2015 on Kickstarter

“This is a card game for people who are into kittens and explosions and laser beams and sometimes goats”. Well, no wonder Exploding Kittens reached its Kickstarter goal and then some! It sounds a lot more exciting than Solitaire.

7. OUYA

$8,596,474 by 63,416 funders
August 2012 on Kickstarter

This gaming console allows game creators to publish their games, created with the intent to allow bedroom game designers to flourish. Affordable at $99 per console, OUYA lets you download and stream entertainment content in 1080p HD. You can also try lots of games for free with this system.

8. Weissenhaus

$8,195,550 by 1,679 funders
July 2014 on Companisto

Weissenhaus bucks the trend of this tech-heavy list by being a crowdfunded luxury resort. Guests can experience fancypants decadence by the Baltic Sea, including Michelin restaurants, deluxe spa treatments, and even a castle.

9. Pono Music

$6,225,354 by 18,220 backers
April 2013 on KickstarterStarted by folk musician Neil Young, the Pono music player allows you to play high quality MP3 files. In an age of tinny streaming services that reduce the richness of MP3 sound, this prism-shaped player may be the audiophile’s antidote to how modern music is consumed.

10. Sondors Electric Bike

$5,845,116 by 14,610 funders
April 2014 on Indiegogo

This affordable electric bike is lightweight and able to tackle a range of terrains; it’s no wonder it has found high levels of demand. The bike can go up to 32 kilometres per hour with a tap of the accelerator, and effective hydraulic disc brakes will bring it to a stop.

11. Veronica Mars Movie

$5,702,153 by 91,585 backers
April 2013 on Kickstarter

The US series Veronica Mars crowdfunded its transition to the silver screen. The cult teen noir drama only aired for three seasons, but obviously made quite an impression on its fans, who went on to fund the film just to they could enjoy more of Veronica Mars.

12. Bring Reading Rainbow Back

$5,408,916 by 105,857 backers
July 2014 on Kickstarter

This educational initiative was created with the aim to offer online resources for children in under-served classrooms. This library of interactive books and video field trips is currently being formatted for more platforms in order to become even more widely accessible for kids who need it.

13. Restore King Chapel

$5,048,213 by 282 backers
May 2015 on Indiegogo

King Chapel has a rich history. Sitting on the grounds of Martin Luther King’s alma mater, this chapel has hosted interesting events such as awards ceremonies for Nelson Mandela and Spike Lee film premiers. It also hosts classes at the University. With only 282 backers, there must have been a few very generous donations.

14. An Hour of Code for Every Student

$5,022,911 by 2,827 backers
December 2014 on Indiegogo

This creators of this startup want everyone to be able to have access to code lessons, including those from underprivileged backgrounds. If you head to the site, you can have access to an hour of free coding lessons right now. Most are aimed at children (including some for kids as young as kindergarten age), but they are still lots of fun for adults!

15. Bitvore Corp.

$4,500,000
March 2014 on Fundable

This organisation processes swathes of data into information that is easily processable by the average business owner. Corporations and small businesses alike can use their services to make decisions backed by data.

16. Super Troopers 2

$4,487,229 by 52,380 funders
April 2015 on Indiegogo

More than 50,000 people thought the world needed another movie that makes light of incompetent idiots with guns being in charge of people’s lives. There are also apparently jokes that involve sexual relations with bears.

17. Torment: Tides of Numenera

$4,188,927 by 84,405
April 2015 on Kickstarter

In 1999, Planedcape: Torment became an iconic role-playing game that set the scene for excellence in RPGs at the time. Torment: Tides of Numenera is aiming to be an excellent sequel some 16 years later. Set in a dilapidated advanced civilisation, one person has discovered how to use the ancient power of the numenera to achieve super-human ends.

18. Pillars of Eternity (formerly Project Eternity)

$3,986,929 from 73,986 backers
October 2012 from Kickstarter

Obsidian Entertainment raised about triple their target to develop this RPG. With popular games like Fallout 1 & 2, Arcanum and under their belt, fans were excited for the new game.

19. Mighty No. 9

$3,845,170 from 67,226
October 2013 on Kickstarter

Another over-achieving game start-up, fans raised more than 4 times the requested amount for this game. Mighty No. 9 is an action-platform video game produced by Keiji Inafune and being developed by Comcept.

20. ZANO

$3,550,781 by 12,075 backers
January 2015 on Kickstarter

ZANO is a nano-drone with HD video and photo capabilities. Set for delivery in July 2015, this tiny drone connects to your smart device via Wi-Fi. It is possible to stream HD video from this palm-sized device. In other words, your selfie stick is old news.

21. Reaper Miniatures

$3,429,235 from 17,744
August 2012 on Kickstarter

This company creates detailed miniatures of characters from games. Yet another company created and supported by the love of gaming in the world!

22. The Micro

$3,401,261 from 11,855
May 2014 from Kickstarter

This 3D printer promises an intuitive user experience with quality results. It’s also affordable at just $349, and in 2015 who doesn’t want a 3D printer?

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