Successful Kickstarter Projects: The After Story

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Crowdfunding has become the new hatching ground for entrepreneurial ideas. Kickstarter already helped thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs in materializing their projects. This source of financing turned so popular that it pooled over US$34 billion, in 2015 alone. Furthermore, Kickstarter managed to collect $1.9 billion in pledges from over 9.4 million backers. About 257,000 projects have been funded since 2009.

It’s really fascinating to see the journey of a successful crowdfunding project. All campaigns started with the hope to tick unfulfilled consumer needs. Projects get funded by interested people, in exchange for a free unit or discounted prices. Some became a runaway success, amassing capitalizations way beyond their original goal. Production starts and they proceed shipping goods to excited backers. Sounds like your typical happy ending, doesn’t it?

Yet, there are curious fellows who ask what happened after the project’s materialization. Were they able to expand their customer base after fulfilling the hype? It should be noted that a successful campaign does not mean a profitable business in the long run. This article takes a look at crowdfunding projects that became successful after the pilot shipment.

1. Pebble Time

  • Amount Raised: $20,338,986
  • Goal: $500,000

The Campaign: Pebble is the world’s first true smartwatch, which was released in 2013. It started out as a kickstarter project and collected over $10 million through its campaign. In 2014, the first generation smartwatch reached one million of sold units on the 31st of December. Pebble Technology Corporation launched an upgraded follow-up, in early 2015, with a goal of $500,000. The company aimed to ramp the features of the original Pebble Smartwatch, with longer battery life, colored display and additional apps in Pebble Market. The goal was reached 17 minutes after the start of the campaign and pooled $10.3 million two days later. It has since reached milestones on Kickstarter, being the most funded project ever, with almost 80,000 backers.

Status After Crowdfunding: The campaign ended on March 03, 2015 and the product was released on August 6, the same year. Critics applaud its long battery life and the display, but opinions were mixed as regards the design and the lack of overall upgrades. Nonetheless, the company already captured a loyal consumer base and was able to cement its status as a reliable manufacturer. Currently, Pebble Time is available on Best Buy and Amazon.

2. Coolest Cooler

  • Amount Raised: $13,285,226
  • Goal: $50,000

The Campaign: Ryan Grepper created a runaway success with this Kickstarter idea on 2013. The gizmo is a mix of rechargeable blender, waterproof Bluetooth speaker, USB charger and other features. The cooler itself can carry up to 60 quarts of goods and has a removable divider that serves as a cutting board. The Bluetooth speakers are removable and rechargeable, working up to 30 ft. away. It was originally campaigned on 2013, but was short of its original goal. He re-launched the idea on July 2014, when it met tremendous success. It once held ‘the most funded project’ title on Kickstarter (a title it grabbed from the original Pebble Smartwatch), with over 60,000 backers.

Status After Crowdfunding: Coolest Cooler is also deemed as one of the best inventions of 2014, according to Time Magazine. CNET also praised the multitude of competent devices you can find in a cooler. However, they criticized the blender that has a mediocre performance. Unfortunately, the production of Coolest Cooler suffered delays, because of numerous factors. While the first two batches were shipped to backers on time, the production of the remaining 36,000 units were halted, due to poor management. Grepper sought another $15 million, with $5 million to be used in finishing these outstanding shipments in March 2016. Thankfully, 10,000 backers provided the additional funds and production resumed in China. Coolest Cooler is currently available for pre-orders on Amazon.

3. Baubax Travel Jacket

  • Amount Raised: $9,192,055
  • Goal: $20,000

The Campaign: Hiral Sanghavi and Yoganshi Sha found the inspiration for this product after years of forgetting their travel pillow in airplane flights. Billed as the world’s best travel jacket, it has 15 features aiming to fulfill the premise of comfort and user convenience. Baubax offers a built-in neck pillow and pockets to carry your important accessories. In a way, this comes to diminish the ire your bags sometimes produce in your travels. Baubax Travel Jacket has become the most funded clothing project on Kickstarter, with over 44,000 backers.

Status After Crowdfunding: The project suffered the same fate as Coolest Cooler in terms of production mismanagement. Production delays turned backers’ excitement into anger towards missed shipments. The company is also not responding to the majority of queries on the social media. Worse, Baubax was sold to third parties, while backers have yet to receive their own jackets. Some users received their unit ten months after the promised delivery date, and those who received the Baubax jacket damned it with faint praise. The design and fit were somehow admired, as well as the plethora of pockets. However, some criticized the quality of the fabric used.

4. Exploding Kittens

  • Amount Raised: $8,782,571
  • Goal: $10,000

The Campaign: Exploding Kittens is a card game created by The Oatmeal staff, Elan Lee, Matthew Inman and Shane Small. It started as a Kickstarter campaign, on January 2015, and its goal was reached within minutes. By February 2015, Exploding Kittens became the fourth most funded project on the site. It had the most number of backers, with 219,382 persons at the end of campaign. The game itself is described as similar to Russian Roulette. You have to keep drawing cards until you pick an exploding kitten and lose the game. It can be played by 2-5 persons at a time, averaging 15 minutes per game.

Status After Crowdfunding: Exploding Kittens also saw one of the most successful tale of transitioning from a project to a real card game. The game was successfully shipped to all backers on time, in late July, 2015. It was also distributed in several online stores, signifying that it hurdled the challenge of expanding its target market. Critics also hailed Exploding Kittens’ spin on card games and it also received glowing user reviews online. On January 2016, an app version was released in Apple Store, with some unique contents in the mobile game.

5. Ouya

  • Amount Raised: $8,596,474
  • Goal: $950,000

The Campaign: Not all Kickstarter projects end well, as evidenced by production problems encountered by Coolest Cooler. Ouya was poised to be an Android-based gaming console, akin to Microsoft’s XBOX. It was the highest funded video game device on Kickstarter. Its aim was to make games more affordable and to spring inspiration to create more accessible games in the future. The campaign started on late 2012 and was able to raise $3.7 million on Kickstarter in the first two days. The project was able to raise $8.5 million and was the fifth most funded project on Kickstarter. Ouya units were shipped to backers in March 2013 and was released to public in June 2013.

Status After Crowdfunding: The Ouya console was considered a commercial failure upon release. It was met with lukewarm critical reviews, as its servers were working on smartphones, but performing mediocre on other platforms. They received another minus because of the lack of worthwhile games to play on it. Hence, they saw Ouya with loads of potential but failed on execution. Due to low sales, Ouya went in financial distress and was sold to Razer Inc. The production of the unit was discontinued on July 27, 2015.

6. Pono Music

  • Amount Raised: $6,225,354
  • Goal: $800,000

The Campaign: Wanting to offer music as if it was a live recording, Neil Young started to create a platform that brought the best listening experience to audiophiles. The Pono music player has a 64 GB internal storage and supports Micro SD cards up to 128 GB. It also has an online store where listeners can buy earbuds and other headphone products. A user downloads music through the PonoMusic App. The goal was greatly surpassed, thanks to 18,200 backers.

Status After Crowdfunding: Shipments to backers were made as early as October 2014. The gizmo was publicly released on the first quarter of 2015. However, it is another project whose campaign success was not translated into a warm public response. Perhaps our move towards music streaming didn’t sit well with the Pono Music player. Several critics were skeptical about its status as a standalone music device, since consumers were already leaning towards smartphones. The design also met negative reception, with one criticism that says it looks like an ice cream stick. User opinions are mixed as regards the audio quality. Some prefer the raw sound Pono offers, yet others still prefer the sound delivered by iPhones.

7. Elite: Dangerous

  • Amount Raised: £1,578,316
  • Goal: £1,250,000

The Campaign: Elite: Dangerous served as the fourth installment in the Elite game series. It features a player on a deep space travel in a galaxy based on Milky Way. It works similar to a visual novel, where the actions of players affect the narrative of the story. The prequel, Frontier: First Encounters was released in 1995, but the developer couldn’t find a good deal with publishers. The project was left unfunded for years, until it was released as a campaign on Kickstarter. While it reached the goal, they opted for additional funding independently.

Status After Crowdfunding: Alpha and Beta versions of the game were made available to selected backers on December 2013 and March 2014, respectively. Elite: Dangerous was officially released for Windows gaming platform on December 2014. An OSX and XBOX version followed on March 2015 and October 2015. The game received positive reviews from critics for its immersive gameplay, somehow mixed with its simplistic premise. Elite: Dangerous was commercially successful, as over 1.4 million units have been sold up to November 2015. It was estimated that the developers made a profit of £22 million from the video game. However, backers aren’t completely satisfied, after the removal of offline mode imposed in November 2014. It was claimed that disgruntled backers can opt for a refund on a case to case basis.

8. The Veronica Mars Movie Project

  • Amount Raised: $5,702,153
  • Goal: $2,000,000

The Campaign: Veronica Mars is a detective series that ran for three seasons on The CW Television Network, from 2004 until 2007. However, fans wanted a continuation of the story. Series creator, Rob Thomas, already wrote a script, but Warner Bros. had no plans to fund it at that time. Hence, Thomas created a Kickstarter page, to make the Veronica Mars movie possible, after a blessing from Warner Bros. The initial goal was surpassed 2 hours later. Ultimately, funds amounting to $5.7 million were raised, thanks to 91,585 backers. The movie was once the most backed project in the history of Kickstarter, until Exploding Kittens broke the record in 2015. It still remains the most successful film project in the said crowdfunding site.

Status After Crowdfunding: The movie was released to positive critical reviews, praising the sharp writing and the performances of the leads. It earned $3.5 million in box office and $2.2 million in terms of Blu-ray sales. The film served as a catalyst for continuation of the series in other media. Thomas got a two-book deal with Vintage Books. Also, a web spinoff was aired on The CW Television’s site. Backers are mildly dissatisfied though, because some of them didn’t receive a digital copy of the film. Yet, that was addressed by Thomas, later.

9. BONUS – The Guy Who Threw a Potato Salad Party

  • Amount Raised: $55,492
  • Goal: $10

The Campaign: This was originally a prank pulled by Zack Brown to his friends. After the verification of his bank account, he posted the campaign on the Kickstarter website. The date coincided with the day when the term ‘potato salad’ reached records high in Google searches. Needless to say, people looking for potato recipes stumbled on his Kickstarter page. The humorous nature of his project appealed to many people, and articles about his campaign made rounds in the social media. He managed to raise $55,492 from 7,000 backers.

Status After Crowdfunding: Brown held a real potato salad party after the resounding success of his gag Kickstarter campaign. Most of the money they raised went back to backers and fundraising activities for charitable organizations. They also built a limited liability corporation to continue their stint, along with creating funny videos. Backers are sometimes weird, aren’t they?

Have you backed a Kickstarter campaign? Tell us your experience in the comments!

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