Those with big dreams for big projects used to raise money from professional investors and venture capitalists, but the popularity of crowdfunding sites such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter has turned up an alternate route for fundraising.
Here’s a look back at the five campaigns on each site that raised the most money this year, and where those campaigns are now. From backing beehives to movie sequels, the wisdom of crowds proved pretty disparate in 2015.
(And no, the Greek bailout campaign did not make the list.)
A non-Apple smartwatch
Launched on Feb. 24, or a month before the Apple Watch was made official, Pebble Time is a smartwatch that manages calls and e-mails as well as tracks one’s steps and sleep patterns. This particular device raised more than $20 million on Kickstarter with nearly 80,000 backers. Shipments for the watch began on May 27.
First you get the money …
Buzz, buzz is the sound of successful crowdfunding, apparently. The No. 1 campaign on Indiegogo in 2015 was Flow Hive, a new way to harvest your own honey without disturbing or getting stung by your bees. “Turn the tap and watch as pure, fresh, clean honey flows right out of the hive and into your jar,” read the description on Indiegogo. Apiarists certainly turned on the taps for this Australian-based campaign—to the tune of $12 million.
You can’t travel without this jacket
Some days you just need a jacket that comes with a neck pillow, a portable charger pocket, and a zipper-slash-stylus. The company behind the “world’s best travel jacket with 15 features,” BauBax, had roughly 45,000 backers, bringing its fundraising total to more than $9 million on Kickstarter. It doesn’t appear as if the jackets have been shipped yet, although the team did send out a delivery timeline that’s viewable only to people who bought into the campaign and the idea of built-in blankets.
Kittens, but not the way you expected them
Do you like your kittens cute and exploding? Dubbed “a highly strategic kitty-powered version of Russian Roulette,” this card game had a whopping 219,382 backers on Kickstarter, pledging a total of almost $9 million, and began shipping in July. If you’re someone who’s “into kittens and explosions and laser beams and sometimes goats,” plus “magical enchiladas” and “weaponized back hair” (yeah, we don’t know either), this one is clearly for you.
A rebooted video game
A game that was released in the late 1990s sought funding to make a comeback. Some 69,000 backers pledged $6.3 million to bring a third installment of the Japanese video game Shenmue back to life. Investors on Kickstarter have yet to receive the game, as the product is still undergoing development, according to a recent update. Good things clearly come to those who wait … more than 15 years.
A better bicycle
With nearly 16,000 backers, the Sondors electric bike raised more than $6 million earlier this year. The Malibu-based company is calling this “the world’s most affordable, versatile electric bike.” It weighs 55 pounds and can travel up to 20 miles per hour and go for 30 to 50 miles on one charge. The company began shipping preordered bikes to Indiegogo backers in August.
Bringing back a popular TV show
“The Brain That Wouldn’t Die” is the title of one Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode. Time will tell if Mystery Science Theater 3000 will prove to be the TV series that won’t die. In the late 1980s and ’90s, the comedic science fiction series received two Emmy nominations and aired 197 episodes before being canceled in 1999. A team started a campaign to help bring back the show, raising $5.7 million via 48,000 investors on Kickstarter. Funding closed on Dec. 12, and the team says it’s raised enough to produce as many as a dozen episodes, which are expected to air in 2016. B-movie fans have B-een warned (sorry).
Dare to dream
Named after Martin Luther King Jr., the King Chapel on the campus of Morehouse College raised more than $5 million to help restore the building. “The fixes needed to restore the Chapel are major, with a new roof, new seating and new HVAC system the most important among them,” the Indiegogo page says. Those who donated more than $25 were guaranteed their name would be listed in a “souvenir rededication program” after the chapel’s renovations, which the college previously said it’s aiming to complete by January 2017.
Super Troopers, redux
Following up on the movie released in 2001, Super Troopers 2 raised $4.5 million earlier this year and has since started production. Different prizes for funding levels included Fandango movie tickets, DVDs, and Blu-rays, plus the chance to attend one of the movie’s premieres. Fans of the original obviously can’t wait for the sequel to come out “right meow.”
Some comic relief
It’s not a movie, but yet another production cracks the top 10 list. Con Man is a new show that brings together the former cast of the much-mourned and short-lived science fiction series Firefly. The people behind the campaign say they turned to Indiegogo because of the show’s “genuinely passionate, stalwart and powerful fans,” and it looks like they made the right decision. Almost 47,000 backed it, pledging more than $3 million. According to Con Man’s Twitter feed, backers have started to receive some of their items, which include things such as the show’s script.