While crowdfunding may seem like a new idea, it has actually existed for centuries. Publishers would often fund new books through ‘subscription’ schemes, where a subscriber list was used to gain the confidence of investors. The co-operative movement of the 19th century is another early example. But it wasn’t until the internet arrived that this method of funding really hit the mainstream – meaning you too could start your very own multi-million dollar crowdfunded project.
10. Flow Hive
Flow Hive was – and still is – the Number 1 Indiegogo campaign of all time. With a goal of $70,000 the project was 17380% funded, amassing a total of $12,174,187. The campaign was started by Cedar and Stuart Anderson, to fund a new type of bee-hive which would allow users to harvest honey without harming the occupants. ‘I really didn’t like squishing bees to harvest,’ says Cedar, ‘I thought “there has to be a better way”’. 35,000 bee-keepers agreed with him, so they ordered a Flow Hive, and got this crowdfunding project into the top ten of all time.
9. Ubuntu Edge Smartphone
This Indiegogo campaign is the only one on this Top 10 list that didn’t meet its massive $32,000,000 goal. Canonical, the company behind the open source Ubuntu operating system started the campaign in August 2013, and were hoping to be able to fund the first open source smartphone. However, despite pledges amounting to $12,814,196 the campaign reached only 40% of its goal, leaving a lot of disappointed investors dreaming of their perfect phone.
8. Coolest Cooler
Ryan Grepper was hoping that there were a lot of party animals out there when he started his Coolest Cooler Kickstarter campaign in August 2014. He was right. He smashed his funding goal of $50,000, hauling in a cool $13,285,226. Now there are parties all over the globe enjoying freshly crushed ice and cold cocktails thanks to his 60 quart cooler design. Powered by rechargeable battery and with built in bluetooth waterproof speaker, usb charger, bottle opener and cutting board, this really is the ultimate cooler.
7. WAVES platform
The WAVES platform is intended as an alternative to traditional financial systems, and integrate new with old, enabling traditional financial institutions to issue their own tokens allowing users to access both blockchain technology and traditional products seamlessly. It ran an independent campaign starting in May 2016 and collected a whopping $16,436,095 making it, at the time the sixth highest grossing crowdfunding project of all time. It has since moved to seventh position, proving that there is still room at the top.
In September 2014 the Ethereum Foundation opened an independent crowdfunding campaign to get its platform up and running. The Ethereum platform uses blockchain technology to allow people to move currency, run apps, manage projects, honour contracts, and anything else you can think of. The blockchain ensures that anything running on the Ethereum platform is immune to downtime, censorship, fraud or third-party interference. So you can be sure that the $18,439,086 that was raised is now very, very safe.
5. Prison Architect
Using the Steam Early Access system, Introversion Software were able to buck the trend of crowdfunding failure that befell many other developers. While others’ dreams went down in flames, or they simply ran away with the funding, Introversion were rewarded with $19,000,000 for their slow and steady approach. By offering a playable(but buggy) game right from the start, and only making promises they could keep, Introversion gathered a huge fan base over the three years it took to release the finished version of Prison Architect.
4. Pebble Time
The ‘second version of the world’s first smartwatch’ was funded on the Kickstarter platform. With an initial March 2015 ask of $500,000 the goal was quickly then exceeded; closing at a massive $20,338,986. With up to 10 days battery life, a waterproof e-ink display, and access to 6500 Pebble apps, the new watch was a hit. And now there are 78,471 backers who really have no excuse for being late.
3. Elio Motors
Still ongoing, an independent crowdfunding campaign has gained Paul Elios of Elios Motors $102,000,000 to make his dream of revolutionizing personal transport happen. He envisioned nothing less than a revolution in the American car market. The money will be put towards the ultimate goal of having an American made, fully-enclosed, three-wheeled vehicle of the future in every home. These vehicles will be fun to drive, super-economical, safe and customizable, and will cost the buyer less than $7300.
2. Star Citizen
Not only No. 2 on the Top 10 highest funded crowdfunding projects of all time, but also getting a Guinness World Record, the computer game Star Citizen surely has all the funding it needs to be very, very good. An independent campaign, and a Kickstarter campaign have seen developer, Chris Roberts raise a staggering $139,000,000 plus towards his project. He states ‘I don’t want to build a game. I want to build a universe.’ Well, we think you’ve probably got enough money for that, too Chris.
1. The DAO
This May 2016 campaign was funded on the Ethereum platform, which itself came in at No. 6 on this list. Standing for ‘De-centralized Autonomous Organization’, the system was designed to store and transmit Ether currency and Ethereum based assets. The original $500,000 target was blown away and a total of $160,000,000 was raised. An unfortunate incident saw hackers siphon off a chunk of the DAO’s funds resulted in a split in the Ethereum blockchain, and the end of the DAO itself, just a month after it became the largest crowdfunding campaign in history.