Just ten years ago, if you wanted to start a business you had to go about it the hard way. This typically involved writing up a business plan, dressing in a nice suit and meeting with some bigwigs at a bank to convince them that you're on to something. Chances were high that they'd say no, and unless you could beg your family to front you the cash or you invested your entire life savings, your dream would have a hard time becoming a reality.
Thanks to the internet though, those days are almost entirely gone. Nowadays, you can cook up a hare-brained idea with a few friends, post it up on a site like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, and convince family, friends and complete strangers to donate their hard-earned money to help make it happen. Many great projects have been funded thanks to crowdfunding sites. Fans of the TV show Veronica Mars famously came together to raise enough money to make a movie a reality, and video game developers are earning thousands daily from fans' faith in their unreleased projects. New businesses and products are being produced every day thanks to crowdfunding - and many of them are even worthwhile. Of course, for every Kickstarter success, there are many, many others that never get fully funded. For one reason or another they fall flat – perhaps they don't capture the attention of others, or maybe they're simply not marketed well enough.
And then there's a third group that features ideas so outlandish, so far-fetched, and sometimes so outright ridiculous that you think there's no way they could be successfully funded. And yet a crazy idea captures people's attention, it gets noticed and that translates to a fully funded project. That's the beauty of crowdfunding; it's entirely democratic, as the people decide what gets funded. So even if we're passionate about something really strange, if enough of us come together we can make it happen. That's certainly positive, but one can't help but look at projects like the following five and wonder – “What were people thinking?”
5 Launch a TARDIS Into Space: $88,880
Sending anything into space is expensive, but then again, how often do most of us contemplate sending things into space? Apparently, some people dream of sending a TARDIS up into space, and they're not alone. A Kickstarter to do just that had 3,231 Dr. Who fans pledging money for the project. In all, the project raised a whopping $88,880 - over $55,000 more than the original goal.
While the idea of sending something awesome into space does sound appealing, the problem is whether or not it can actually, logistically, happen. If not, there's 3,000 fans out there who might be disappointed about their wasted investment.
4 Lionel Richie's Head: $13,320
Not many people dream about going into Lionel Richie's head. But at least 211 people felt this was a worthwhile goal. These 211 people backed a Kickstarter project for a giant, inflatable head of Lionel Richie - one that fans could walk into - which was set to appear at a UK festival. And yes, the project was successful, but not only that, it raised almost double the amount they were originally asking for. Sadly though, they didn't raise enough money to make the exhibit bigger and interactive.
Interactive, you ask? How would a giant, inflatable head of a former pop singer be interactive? Had they raised just a little more money, fans would have been able to enter Lionel Richie's head and inside, there would be a telephone ringing. When answered (if you were alive in the 80s, you know where this is going) Lionel Richie would croon into your ear, “Hello? Is it me you're looking for?”
3 Write Stupid Things in the Sky: $6,820
People sometimes pay big bucks to get a marriage proposal or some other message written in the sky. Companies even pay skywriters to write messages as a promotional tool. However, one Los Angeles comedian decided that it was about time that skywriting entered the comedic realm. Kurt Braunohler set up a Kickstarter for $4,000 to write absurd and inane phrases in the sky. With $4,000, he could write one line – But for $10,000, he offered the opportunity to hire four planes to write a knock knock joke. In the sky. Some of the phrases he offered up for those who paid enough to vote included “How do I land?”, “OMG I'm flying” and the most classy of them all, “God's Fartin'”.
But not only did he propose this idea, the project was actually funded. Unfortunately, he didn't raise the $10,000 needed for a multiple line joke, but he did surpass his first goal and raised $6,820. And as promised, he had a plane write “How do I land?” in the sky over Los Angeles.
2 Potato Salad: $55,000
This is one of those ideas that has most of us kicking ourselves asking, “Why hadn't I thought of that?” Better yet, this may just be the most expensive potato salad in the history of the world. And sadly, the backers don't even get to try some of it. Oh, and the person who launched the Kickstarter campaign itself even said that it wasn't likely to be very good anyway, so there is that.
Considering all of the above, how did one man manage to raise over $55,000 for potato salad? Nearly 7,000 people backed his Kickstarter and came out to support an otherwise simple project of making a potato salad. Zack Danger Brown, the guy behind the Kickstarter, originally set a goal of $10, and somehow people decided this potato salad just had to be funded.
If potato salad can bring in $50,000, it almost makes you wonder how much money a recipe with bacon would bring in...
1 Bug-A-Salt: $577,636
Flies are pesky little critters, there's no doubt about it. Most of the ways to rid your home of insects involve poison or patience (to swat them all away), neither of which are enjoyable. Well, what if you could make killing insects fun? What if you could combine fly swatting with something many people love to do... like hunting?
10,000 people thought this was a great idea. Bug-A Salt is a miniature gun that uses salt as bullets for flies. Nothing fancy – you don't need sea salt or pink Himalayan salt. Plain old table salt will do the trick. You load the salt in the gun, turn the safety off (so you don't accidentally shoot someone in the eye with the salt – ouch), and POW! You can walk around your house, hunting for poor insects and gunning them down like an old fashioned game of Duck Hunt. Except with flies.
The project originally had a goal of $15,000, but it surpassed this hundreds of times over, raising $577,636. The product is now for sale, so if you've always dreamt of hunting insects with a tiny gun, that day has finally arrived.