Kickstarter is the undisputed king of crowdfunding, the service entrepreneurs turn to when they need money to back their great idea. If people like it, they pledge cash to bankroll the project in return for perks like special edition versions of the end product. On March 3, Kickstarter announced it had surpassed $1 billion in pledges.
That $1 billion invested in new products over five years (Kickstarter launched in 2009) may seem like a drop in the bucket compared to the cash that tech companies like Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOG) and Facebook (FB) throw around on acquisitions. It pales in comparison to the $19 billion Facebook dropped on WhatsApp.
But Kickstarter projects have become the “garage” of this decade, especially for those in the technology field. Kickstarter provides a way for budding designers and engineers who have an idea to showcase it to potential customers and investors, and use their pledges for monetary support to get that idea from the drawing board to the shelf.
The crowdfunding model means you don’t have to undertake the gruelling formality (and risk) of securing a bank loan, or hoping angel investors will commit a stack of money to an unproven idea — instead, you convince a bunch of people that they should buy your product and essentially pre-pay in order to ensure it gets off the ground.
Not every idea is a good one, and not every entrepreneur can successfully manage their Kickstarter project even if it is successfully funded. However, there have been some smash successes, like the Pebble smartwatch — which got its start as a Kickstarter project.
In recognition of Kickstarter surpassing the $1 billion mark, here are five of the most influential Kickstarter projects, at least when it comes to the consumer technology field.