Over the last decade, crowdfunding has become a quick, somewhat successful way for small businesses and creators to raise funds for their projects. Sure, it’s not a perfect method since you definitely need a viable audience, good social media marketing, and promotional skills to really pull it off, but the work can be worth the reward. So today, we’re going to focus on the positives.
Here are the 10 most expensive Kickstarter campaigns ever funded.
10 The 7th Continent - $7 million
Inspired by 'choose your own adventure' stories featuring yourself as the hero, The 7th Continent is a cooperative game supporting gameplay for one to four players. That’s awesome if you really like board games, but your friends don’t. And if you don’t want to lose any friends via Settlers of Catan, you can all be one big happy family in The 7th Continent.
The premise is that you’re an explorer in 1907 who recently returned from exploring the newly discovered seventh continent. Everything goes wrong when members from your expedition go missing. It’s up to you to find them, stop some curses, and stay alive. The project had over 43,000 backers and raised a little over $7 million. The game is available for purchase at Serious Poulp’s website.
9 Ouya Video Game Console - $8.6 Million
Not all Kickstarter successes have a happy ending, especially for the tech variety. The Ouya console essentially bridged the gap between indie game developers producing content for a TV console and cost. The allure for gamers was a free-to-play model with a nostalgic controller. Funding was a resounding success, earning $8.6 million, exceeding the goal of $950,000.
Now here’s the sad part: Ouya has since been acquired by Razer. Effective June 25th, 2019, the Ouya store officially shut down, taking all user accounts with it.
8 Exploding Kittens - $8.8 Million
As the most (or second most depending on how popular number seven is to you) well-known Kickstarter, Exploding Kittens takes the cake as Kickstarter’s most successful long-living project. It garnered around 220,000 backers and raised $8.8 million.
The game has since developed expansion packs, attended conventions, had other merch like blind-bags featuring the different kittens, and helped the creators build up their own game company. It’s been praised and has become essential for any game night.
7 BauBax Travel Jacket - $9.2 Million
Another product-meet-swiss army-knife project, the BauBax Travel Jacket caters to literally all of your travel-based needs. As a sampling, the jacket includes a built-in neck pillow, eye mask, drink pocket, iPad pocket, passport pocket, and many more. Don’t worry, if you don’t want the neck pillow for everyday use, it’s detachable.
The jacket raised $9.2 million with around 45,000 backers. The success from this campaign spurred two more funded projects: the BauBax 2.0 Travel Jacket and the BauBax Travel Pants.
6 Pebble E-Paper Watch - $10.2 Million
The very first Pebble Technology item on the list, this Kickstarter launched in April of 2012. This was three years before the launch of the Apple Watch. Though Fitbit existed at the time, it hadn’t gained traction the same way it did within the last few years. So Pebble really became the first available, somewhat affordable smartwatch capable of syncing up with Android and iPhone products.
The Kickstarter hit its goal of $100,000 within two hours and it all just went up from there. After the campaign had run its course, the project ended with over 68,000 backers with $10.2 million pledged.
5 Critical Role: The Legend of Vox Machina Animated Special - $11.4 Million
Who knew a Dungeons & Dragons campaign would ever earn such a following?
Critical Role is a Twitch and YouTube series following the DnD campaign of Matthew Mercer and friends. Started in 2015, the series built up quite a big following, leading to the creation of nine other projects under the Critical Role production umbrella.
The Kickstarter was specifically for creating an animated special based off of the series. They hit their initial goal of $750,000 within 40 minutes of launching the campaign. It ended with about $11.4 million with about 89,000 backers.
4 Kingdom Death: Monster 1.5 - $12.4 Million
Kingdom Death: Monster is another cooperative board game, but more comparable to tabletop games like Dungeons & Dragons or Warhammer 40,000. Supporting one to six players, the strategy game challenges players to survive three gameplay phases: the hunt, the showdown, and the settlement. Players can die, much like in other tabletop games, and the record system allows players to stop the game and easily pick up where they left off.
The campaign raised just shy of $12.4 million with close to 20,000 backers.
3 Pebble 2, Time 2 Smartwatch - $12.8 Million
Announced in 2016, this Pebble campaign lands smack in the middle of the other two on the list. Maybe because of the Apple Watch and Fitbit by now. But brand loyalty can do the trick. The Pebble Time 2 launched in May of 2016, boasting a larger screen, color display, and improvements to Pebble’s health app.
The project encompassed two new models of the watch, Pebble 2 and Time 2, and the Pebble Core. They managed to raise $12.8 million with over 66,000 backers.
2 Coolest Cooler - $13.3 Million
Earning its place as the highest-funded project of 2014, the Coolest Cooler is a multi-purpose cooler for all of your relaxation needs. It’s basically what you’d get if you put a cooler and a swiss army knife together. It comes equipped with a Bluetooth speaker, rechargeable battery, blender, LED lamps, a bottle opener, plates, corkscrew, knife, split lid, and a divider that doubles as a cutting board.
The campaign raised around $13.3 million with almost 63,000 backers. But even into 2019, thousands of the original backers have reported that they haven’t received their cooler yet. Despite Coolest Cooler working out an agreement with the Oregon Department of Justice, these backers still haven’t received word on when their orders will be filled.
1 Pebble Time Smartwatch - $20.4 Million
Most of the allure from Pebble was due to the timing. This smartwatch was the successor to the E-Paper smartwatch from before. And that foundation of interest in the brand gave Pebble Time the support it needed to succeed. Within 49 minutes of launching the fundraiser, the watch raised over $1 million. By the time the deadline rolled around, it earned itself just shy of 79,000 backers and far surpassed its goal of a modest $500,000.
Unfortunately for Pebble, the brand was basically murdered by Fitbit. Fitbit did end up buying Pebble in 2016, but only for $40 million. The brand has since gone by the wayside. Pebble officially ceased operation in 2018.