The 10 biggest Kickstarter campaigns in history

3 Sep 2015

What have smartwatches, decks of cards, utility hoodies and Veronica Mars got in common? Well, you helped finance them, that’s what!

Crowdfunding has come on in leaps and bounds since the internet became the go-to source of information, entertainment and communication.

There are now ways to loan money, pledge money, seek funding and basically bypass traditional routes to market, all the while marketing your product to just the right people.

One such platform, amongst a plethora of others, is Kickstarter. But what projects have best utilised the crowd? Well here are the top 10:

10 – Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

Top Kickstarter Campaigns Bloostained

Back in June, the makers of a terribly-titled game, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, successfully raised more than US$5.5m, thanks to more than 64,000 backers.

It reached its target fund of US$500,000 in a little over a day, with a well-planned back-up of targets rolled out almost immediately.

9 – Veronica Mars movie project

Top Kickstarter Campaigns Veronica Mars Movie

In April 2013, a project to help fund a movie of the TV show Veronica Mars managed to reel in US$5.7m, with a whopping 91,000 backers helping out.

Almost half that figure was raised within one day. Set up by the man behind the show, the result meant the movie could successfully go ahead.

8 – Pono Music

Top Kickstarter Campaigns Pono

Last summer, an attempt to raise US$800,000 for a new “listening experience” called Pono saw 18,000 people pledge US$6.2m, with the final update at the turn of the year saying the products were on the cusp of delivery. True to their word, the makers had them shipped in a few months.

7 – Shenmue 3

Top Kickstarter Campaigns Shenmue 3

A few weeks ago, US$6.3m was raised to help get the latest instalment of the incredibly popular Shenmue computer game up and running. Looking for US$2m, almost 70,000 people helped get the product over the line, three times over.

6 – OUYA: A new kind of video game console

Best Kickstarte Campaigns Ouya

It has been two years since OUYA raised more than US$8.5m, nine times it’s target. The organisers wanted to create a whole new video game console, far smaller, better and cheaper than modern variants. At just US$99, CEO Julie Uhrman achieved her goal.

5 – Baubax travel jacket

Top Kickstarter Campaigns Baubax

The only one on the list that’s actually still live (for a couple of hours, anyway) the Baubax has been a storming success. Seeking out US$20,000 for what is surely the single most useful piece of clothing in existence, there is already more than US$8.5m raised, from more than 40,000 users.

Again, thrifty altering of rewards helped the figures skyrocket. My favourite on the list, and the money raised has actually risen as this piece has been compiled.

4 – Exploding Kittens

Top Kickstarter Campaigns Exploding Kittens

Sometimes people simply can’t find products that cater to their niche needs. Incredibly niche needs, on occasion.

When a card game for people who are into kittens and explosions and laser beams and sometimes goats comes along, you have to pounce.

So when people behind The Oatmeal came to Kickstarter, they received US$8.7m from a mammoth 220,000 backers. That’s almost as many people as those who crammed into Croke Park for three nights of One Direction. Nuts.

3 – Pebble

Top Kickstarter Campaigns Pebble Time

Pebble’s first inclusion on this list is as high as third, with the e-paper watch for Android raising a massive US$10.2m from almost 70,000 backers. The USP seemed to be how customisable a product it was, with the ability to link up with pretty much any smart device at the time.

It can connect wirelessly by Bluetooth to smartphones, can control music and largely paved the way for the smartwatches of today. Multiple colours were proposed, with one even chosen by backers.

2 – Coolest Cooler: A 21st century cooler

Top Kickstarter Campaigns Coolest Cooler

You know the internet works when a type of cooler can raise more than US$13m on Kickstarter. The Coolest Cooler did so this time last year, slightly over its US$50,000 target. It boasts a built-in ice crushing blender, a waterproof Bluetooth speaker, a USB charger and “60 quarts of awesome”.

There’s a bottle opener, integrated storage for cutlery and plates, a cutting board, lights and wheels. Basically everything you need for a picnic, party or whatever.

1 – Pebble Time

Top Kickstarter Campaigns Pebble

Obviously realising they had found their market, the people behind Pebble got back in on the act this year, with its Pebble Time smartwatch raising more  US$20m in March.

Timing is everything, and it’s important to note the date. Pebble’s Kickstarter for this was around the same time that the Apple Watch was hitting its media frenzied peak, which proved either (a) that Pebble rode the wave, or (b) Pebble fans would not be swayed.

*Updated Friday September 4 at 11.45*
In the original article we mixed up the Pebble images, which have since been amended. We should also note that, since the article was published the Baubax jacket eventually raised a total of US$9.2m, moving it up to fourth on the list.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic