As the largest funding platform for creative projects in the world, it’s no secret as to why Kickstarter is as popular and successful as it is.
With a simple design, easy-to-use interface, and an ever-growing userbase, Kickstarter is the number one place independent creatives go to raise funds for their projects. Simply create a page, type up a pitch, and people can pledge money to support it. Some of the most successful projects end up with millions of dollars raised.
Physical products tend to perform the best on Kickstarter, but there are projects on everything from digital books to potato salad. That’s right, potato salad.
We’ve put together a list of successful Kickstarter campaigns. Later on, we’ll dive deeper into what exactly led to them being so successful, and what you can do to make sure your project does too!
18 Successful Kickstarter Campaigns
This company became a fully-fledged, super successful business after becoming the second most funded project ever on Kickstarter.
This cooler really focused on what it’s target market wanted and needed and developed the technology to produce a truly unique product. This is something Kickstarter is great for – focusing on a specific group of customers.
With 62,642 backers, it surpassed it’s original goal of $50,000 to make around $13,285,226. A massive achievement, and a testament to the power of an effective project.
2) Potato Salad
The second of these successful Kickstarter campaigns is called “Potato Salad”. Curious already? This project by Zack “Danger” Brown reached 7000 customers and raised 5500% of the initial funding goal. What made this project unique was the idea behind it.
When describing his project, Zack said “basically I’m just making potato salad. I haven’t decided what kind yet.” The funding blew so out of control that he created a potato salad party named “PotatoStock 2014,” and ended up giving most of the money to charity.
Originally setting a goal of $10 to make his salad, it ended up reaching over $55,000. It became a global sensation.
3) Fidget Cube
A slightly more traditional product idea now. The Fidget Cube came before the fad for fidget spinners and was marketed as a “baby toy for adults”, back when the project launched in 2016.
With an original funding goal of $15,000, they ended up raising over $6,450,000, from around 155,000 backers.
David Jones and Michael Armani grew their idea out of their love of 3D printers when they were in college.
In 2014, they started their project on Kickstarter to create a mass-market 3D printer, aimed at being below $500. The company, named M3D, now makes and ships great tiny printers in fun colors all over the world. They are sold in giant chains such as Staples, Brookstone, and more, and have made between $10 million and $15 million in sales.
This all started with a Kickstarter goal of $50,000, which they surpassed to raise an initial amount of $3,401,361.
Created by cartoonist Matthew Inman, this card game was the fastest-funded campaign at the time it was released in 2015. The first version of the card game was suitable for the whole family, but later on, the NSFW version was released, which built on the success of the original.
The game is based around funny cartoon pictures of cats and has since expanded to different variations on the original game. There is even now an app version of the game.
Since the success of the Kickstarter campaign, the company has printed and sold over 5 million decks of cards, and have expanded their operation from the small, backyard-based business they were in 2015. Inman has since become an internet hero, having gained global attention with the absurd, cat-themed card game.
Their Kickstarter project raised an initial $8,782,571.
6) Mighty No.9
This unique video game was created by Keiji Inafune – the creator of Megaman. It is a classic, retro-style Japanese side-scrolling video game, based around a little robot named Beck.
As a call-back to video games of yore, the campaign did amazingly well, raking in $3,845,170 – well past the initial goal of $900,000.
This amazing campaign took on a life of its own. Photographer Mark Tuschman spent a decade photographing women in developing countries to catalog their experiences and highlight the lack of control they have over their own lives and bodies.
The moving images became incredibly popular, and many requested that a book be made of them. Tuschman did just this, with the help of a Kickstarter campaign that raised over $60,000 to go towards publishing costs.
As a veteran crowdfunder, Adam Poots – creator of previous Kickstarter project The Foresaker – launched his second attempt at crowdfunding in 2009 with this iPhone app.
At the time it was the second-highest funded project on Kickstarter after Exploding Kittens, having raised $2,049,721 from around 5,410 backers.
There are still a few successful Kickstarter campaigns that we want to show you. Stick around.
Elevation Lab was set up almost a decade ago by designer Casey Hopkins, with the goal of creating beautiful iPhone docks.
His project reached around 12,521 backers, raising $1,464,706 – blasting past the original goal of $75,000. His product line has expanded to other Apple stands, such as the Apple Watch stand. They were so successful that Apple decided to sell them in their own stores as official Apple periphery products.
Launched in 2012, this Kickstarter aimed at creating a new kind of wallet, had an initial goal of $20,000. But after an innovative campaign featuring unique and engaging video-making and storytelling, they raised $317,424 in a mere 35 days.
The amazing video on their campaign page grabs the visitors attention without saying a single word and engages the viewer right through to the end. A testament to the role of creativity in the Kickstarter process.
This weekly live stream of a tabletop role-playing game has a large, loyal fanbase – something that was key to its wild success. It ended in 2017 after 115 episodes and concluded its long story, which often featured guest voice actors.
The massive success of this live-streamed series led to a Kickstarter project being launched to turn the original show into an animated series. The support from the fanbase meant that they surpassed the goal of $750,000, to reach $11,385,449 – a bonus of $10 million.
As the original commercial smartwatch, Pebble launched in 2012 with its first device. The device combined the functionality of all the subsequent smartwatches, such as notifications and fitness tracking, with the energy efficiency of an e-reader display. This e-ink display was a big selling point, and they refined the design of later generations of the device.
The original Kickstarter project exceeded its goal of $100,000 to reach $10,266,845 – by far the most funded project on Kickstarter at the time. Unfortunately. The company was sold to Fitbit in 2016 for $23 million, and the design of the Pebble watch was abandoned, while 60% of the staff were laid off.
13) Reading Rainbow
This was an early success story on Kickstarter when it was launched in 2014. The beloved kids’ show from the 1980’s Reading Rainbow, launched a campaign to raise money for creating a virtual field trip app for kids.
They raised $5,408,916 – a record at the time. Later on, in 2017, the app was renamed as “LeVar Burton Kids Skybrary”, after Burton lost the original rights to Reading Rainbow.
Another early Kickstarter success, this video games console launched in 2012 and gained the support of over 63,000 people. It raised a massive $5,408,916 – well past the goal of $1,000,000.
It could not translate this into long term success, however. It could not find a loyal audience and had trouble finding developers, so shut down in 2015 after selling its assets to Razr Inc.
This amazing jacket gained success after unveiling its unique design. The feature-rich jacket featured a neck pillow and other gadgets, and the 2015 version 2 of the jacket was even more practical. It has since expanded its product lineup and continues to do well.
The original campaign aimed at raising $20,000, but ended up making $9,192,055.
16) Shenmue 3
This follow-up to the cult hit video game was announced by its creator Yu Suzuki in 2015 and quickly made waves in the gaming world. The last game in the series came out in 2001 on Dreamcast and Xbox, and the prospect of returning to the franchise was welcomed by the community.
Shenmue 3 ended up being the most funded video game project ever on Kickstarter, tripling its goal of $2,000,000 to reach $6,300,000.
This game-changing printer became a hit on Kickstarter after its launch in 2017. It raised $2,200,000, becoming the 11th most funded campaign in Kickstarter history.
The idea was to combine the three different technologies of a laser engraver, CNC lathe, and 3D printer into one manageable machine. This machine was so different and promising because it could work with any material normally found in shops, such as wood, plastic, metal, acrylic, and more. The idea excited a niche market of people and met a need that wasn’t being met anywhere else.
18) WAR & PIECES
The last of these successful Kickstarter campaigns is for War & Pieces. This campaign was helped by its fantastic video. It featured a cartoon family playing a life-sized version of the game. The fun that they were having in the video was contagious, and it’s easy to see why backers were so keen to get in on the fun.
In just a matter of days, the campaign doubled its original goal of $50,000 and was hugely successful.
What’s Behind the Success of These Kickstarter Campaigns?
So what is the secret behind the amazing success of these campaigns? There are multiple reasons, each varying depending on the project.
We’ve narrowed down some of the main reasons and killer strategies that you can use to help give your project the best chance of success possible.
1) Know Your Audience
The best Kickstarter projects know exactly who their audience is, and how to talk to them. Potential backers need to feel that they are not simply buying a product in advance – they need to feel that they are a part of the project. A great example of a company that has done this well is Coolest Cooler.
Coolest Cooler managed to raise $13,000,000 from around 60,000 backers. This is some serious success. While they made mistakes later on down the line, there is a lot that can be learned from their brilliant marketing strategies.
2) Use Story to Make Connections
In his campaign for Faces of Courage, Mark Tuschman speaks to his audience honestly and from the heart. The subject matter is serious and is treated with respect, and Tuschman doesn’t shy away from showing the realities of victims of abuse in Mongolia, for example.
His use of Kickstarter not only as a fundraising platform but as a way of sharing a message with the world is inspiring and is something that connected with a huge amount of people.
3) Be Creative – Go Crazy!
While the Potato Salad project may seem ridiculous, there is no denying the success it achieved. People enjoy and are drawn to crazy ideas. They want to be a part of them.
This is shown in the increase in donations after Brown started offering t-shirts saying “I just Backed Potato Salad,” on them. The crazier, the better.
4) Start Making the Idea Before Your Campaign Launches
It’s clear at this point that campaigns are more likely to succeed when the creator has already started to make progress before they even launch their Kickstarter campaign. Backers like to know that there is a clear vision with an intent behind it.
There are countless failed Kickstarters out there that were never anything more than an idea in a notebook.
5) Do What Your Competition Won’t
When Megaman was retired after 27 years, the fans were enraged. After petitioning and pleading went unheard by the game’s creator CapCom, the makers of Mighty No.9 decided to do the work themselves.
They gathered the original team from Megaman together and finally unveiled Mighty No.9 a the Penny Arcade Expo. The project went viral in the news and was a huge success.
6) Create and Energize an Audience Before Launch
Many first-time Kinckstarters believe that Kickstarter alone will create an audience for your project. This is a big mistake.
Think of Kickstarter as the venue for your launch. You are still responsible for the guest list.
There’s a reason why it’s called CROWDfunding. You must find and engage a crowd, in order to get that funding, and eventually have an audience.
7) Serve an Existing Market
Elevation Dock is a great example of a company that piggy-backed off the success of another brand. The iPhone was, at the time, the most popular smartphone in the world. By designing products specifically to compliment the iPhone, Elevation Dock made use of a pre-existing audience, which helped them gain the success they did.
Successful Kickstarter Campaigns – Use The Tactics for Success
Crowdfunding has changed the way businesses approach funding, ever since Kickstarter launched in 2009.
Before this, small companies had to find investors who in turn has huge leverage over the fledgling companies. This is not always conducive to creating the best product.
Being a successful entrepreneur doesn’t require millions of customers. Only a few thousand, dedicated ones will do. In many ways, this is better than having millions of customers who never return or don’t care about your company. A single loyal customer is worth 10 non-loyal ones. This is true whether you are an artist, author, musician, entrepreneur, or anything at all.
While there is no single secret formula to being successful on Kickstarter, we hope that these tips give you some idea of what it takes. Keep them in mind and you will be well on your way to starting a successful campaign of your own and maybe in a year or two, your campaign will be as well in an article with successful Kickstarter campaigns.
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