This post was written in early January 2021, and the most funded projects may have changed by the time you are reading this. All this information is public, I’m not related to or funded any of these companies (I have bought 1 of these which I will mention when I talk about them).
Many people know about Kickstarter, a place to put your project online and hope you raise enough money to fully fund it, and once you do then you have to get work done and give the people who funded your project what they wanted. There are many projects that don’t raise enough money and simply don’t happen at all, then there are the projects that raise so much money they become the most funded Kickstarter projects of all time. What happens to those projects, and companies, after the funding, no just right after, but years later. It’s time to examine what has happened to the top 12 most funded Kickstarter projects of all time.
1) Pebble Time: “Color e-paper smartwatch with up to 7 days of battery and a new timeline interface that highlights what’s important in your day“, they raised $20.3 million (of their $500,000 goal). This was the 3rd watch that the Pebble company was funding and making. They ran the Kickstarter in 2015, and it was released to the public on May 24th, 2015 (with the Pebble Time Steel being released on August 6th of the same year). People said it was good, but it wasn’t enough of a change of their original watch.
I did buy this watch after it was released to the public, at regular price, based on a recommendation from a friend.
2) Coolest cooler: “The COOLEST is a portable party disguised as a cooler, bringing blended drinks, music and fun to any outdoor occasion.”, they raised $13.2 million (of their $50,000 goal). According to Wikipedia, the initial shipping date of February 2015 was too close so they pushed it to July 2015. The first bunch of cooler’s were shipping by July 2015, and they hoped to clear their large backlog by April 2016. In March 2016 the owner announced that production had stopped because they were seeking extra money. In April 2016 they said the backers could spend an extra $97 to get expedited shipping and they said even if you didn’t pay the extra you would still get it. And enough people gave that extra money so production started back up again. In September 2016, the Oregon Department of Justice said they were investigating them due to possible violations of the state’s unlawful trade practices act. In June 2017, they entered into an agreement with the Oregon Department of Justice to fulfill the remaining Kickstarter rewards. In December 2019, they announced they were closing up shop and would be complying with their agreement from the Oregon Department of Justice. When you try to go to the website now it is for sale. Which means while some people got their cooler, many didn’t and would be out their full cost.
3) Frosthaven: “Euro-inspired dungeon crawling sequel to the 2017 smash-hit board game Gloomhaven“, they raised $12.9 million (of their $500,000 goal). The campaign launched on March 31, 2020 and ended on May 1st 2020. Their timeline (set out in their Kickstarter description) says they should complete everything around March 2021. As we always know, things take longer than expected. But as of the time of writing they say they are a bit behind, and there is no clue if this project will actually be a huge success or will fail. Only time will tell.
4) Pebble 2, Time 2 and Pebble Core: “Two affordable, heart rate-enabled smartwatches and a hackable, 3G wearable for phone-free running with GPS, music, and Amazon Alexa“, they raised $12.7 million (their goal was $1 million). This was the Kickstarter they did after the Pebble Time, but while they did manage to ship every Pebble 2 they could, they didn’t make the other products on this Kickstarter and refunded all unfulfilled rewards. This was due to financial issues, and any intellectual property was purchased by Fitbit. Then Pebble starting closing down and now everything redirects to Fitbit.
5) Kingdom Death: Monster 1.5: “A cooperative nightmare horror game experience. Hunt intelligent monsters and develop your settlement through a self-running campaign“, they raised $12.3 million (their goal was $100,000). This was the last Kickstarter that Kingdom Death has done currently. They shipped the first wave of rewards in October 2017, and they expect everything from their Kickstarter to be delivered by the end of 2020. They don’t currently sell Monster 1.5 on their website, but they are on BackerKit and you can preorder Monster 1.6 (which is very similar to Monster 1.5, in fact so similar that they say if you own 1.5 you don’t need 1.6).
6) Travel Tripod by Peak Design: “A full-featured tripod in a truly portable form“, which raised $12.1 million (their goal was $500,000). They say on their Kickstarter profile that they are entirely crowdfunded, and it seems to have paid off for them. You can buy the Travel Tripod from their own website along with tons of other similar products. On their website is also a small number of blog posts with their Kickstarter 101 which may help others who are looking to use Kickstarter to fund their next project. They seem to be doing well after all their Kickstarter projects.
7) Critical Role: The Legend of Vox Machina Animated Special: “Critical Role’s The Legend of Vox Machina reunites your favorite heroes for a professional-quality animated special!“, which raised $11.3 million (their goal was $750,000). Their stretch goals included 10 episodes and a one-shot GM’d why someone, which was funded. They have been publicly doing updates and they haven’t released one episode yet, mostly due to the pandemic, and how long it is taking to localization and many other related things. They don’t even know when it is going to be released, all they can say is “We do not have an exact date to share quite yet, but as soon as we do, you’ll be the first to know”. They have also not sent out any survey’s for their backers yet, or shipped any of their rewards. Which means it will be a while before anything related to this Kickstarter comes out. You can read more about this and Critical Role on Wikipedia.
8) Pebble: E-Paper Watch for iPhone and Android: “Pebble is a customizable watch. Download new watchfaces, use sports and fitness apps, get notifications from your phone“, which raised $10.2 million (their goal was $100,000). This is the original Pebble watch, after some difficulty they managed to begin shipping them in January 2013, and by December 2013 shipped 300,000 watches. But we know what happened with Pebble, after shipping more units and doing more watches they ended up with financial issues and ended up being sold to Fitbit. You can read the whole story about Pebble on their Wikipedia page.
9) TRAVEL JACKETS with 15 Features by BAUBAX: “TRAVEL JACKET with built-in Neck Pillow, Eye Mask, Gloves, Earphone Holders, Drink Pocket, Tech Pockets of all sizes! Comes in 4 Styles“, which raised $9.1 million (their goal was $20,000). This was their first Kickstarter and out of the 6 they have created only one was cancelled because they say they needed to go back to the drawing board. Currently their website sells many items and they seem to be doing well.
10) The Wyrmwood Modular Gaming Table: Coffee & Dining Models: “A revolutionary table that evolves over a lifetime. Innovative, yet affordable, with magnetic accessories. Crafted without compromise“, which raised $8.8 million (their goal was $1 million). Wyrmwood has had a good history and success on Kickstarter as well they have done at least one more Kickstarter project after this one. They have been regularly doing updates, both on Kickstarter and on their YouTube channel. They even did a video when they put this project on Kickstarter and their reactions. Since it’s such a big project and the tables are something they have never done before it’s going to take a while before they get to backers. However, I believe it will get to backers at some point.
11) Exploding Kittens: “This is a card game for people who are into kittens and explosions and laser beams and sometimes goats“, which raised $8.7 million (their goal was $10,000). The Kickstarter ended on February 19, 2015 and by September 2015 basically everyone who backed the game got it and they’ve launched two other games with good success. One of the co-founders talked with Vox on why many companies (including themselves) keep going back to Kickstarter, which you can watch on YouTube.
12) OUYA: A New Kind of Video Game Console: “Cracking open the last closed platform: the TV. A beautiful, affordable console — built on Android, by the creator of Jambox” which raised $8.5 million (their goal was $950,000). It was a console that promised to do many things, basically instead of having to buy many parts and many games, you could do it all there. All games on that system were initially required to have some sort of free-to-play aspect, but this was later removed. Despite being released to public in June 2013 (backers got theirs in March 2013) the sales weren’t what was expected and it caused financial issues for the company. In July 2015 the software assets were sold to Razer and they announced the discontinuation of the console with everything else shutting down in June 2019. If you want more information about Ouya you can read Wikipedia or XDA Developers.
Now here are a few honourable mentions:
Fidget Cube: A Vinyl Desk Toy $6.4 million raised but there were so many knock-offs due to shipping delays from the original one.
Bring Back MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 with $5.7 million raised, which brought a 11th season (with 14 episodes) and another six episodes, both of which were released on Netflix. If you want to read more about this you can go to Wikipedia.
Bring Reading Rainbow Back raised $5.4 million but ultimately didn’t end up well. In August 2017 WNED (which originally created Reading Rainbow) filed a lawsuit against the Kickstarter creator and his company (this was well after the Kickstarter had finished), and in October 2017 readingrainbow.org the site had a page which said “Recent legal disputes between WNED and LeVar Burton/RRKIDZ have been resolved and RRKIDZ no longer licenses the Reading Rainbow brand from WNED. WNED is currently working on the next chapter of Reading Rainbow and will continue its mission of fostering education for a new generation.”
ZNAPS – Connection is just a snap away which raised $3 million ended up being a complete scam. They never ended up giving their backers what they promised, and instead they sold directly to the public. This is a reminder that you can’t believe everything you see on sites like Kickstarter.
To close, there are many cool and successful projects on Kickstarter, but not everything will be as successful as this, in fact according to Kickstarter 11% of projects never get a single pledge, and you can go to their stats page to see how many projects were unsuccessfully funded.
In January 2021 I’m trying an experiment, I’m going to be posting at least 2 blog posts per week. This is not only to see how the engagement is, but how my writing goes over during the time. As always you can contact me directly if you have any thoughts or opinions on this or what I’ve written on. This is post number 53 as part of 100 Days To Offload.