When the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter launched in 2009, 40 people pledged $1,084 to seven projects on the very first day.
On Monday its founders announced that more than $1 billion had been raised for its projects from 5.7 million people in 224 countries.
More than half that amount was raised in the past 12 months alone.
“One billion means that people care about new ideas, and that sharing them with our friends, our families and the entire Internet can lead to some amazing stuff,” reads the founders’ blog post.
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Kickstarter projects have run the gamut between strange and ambitious, creative and lucrative. Pledgers have funded everything from glowing sleep masks to satellite launches. And founders have pitched everything from customized artwork to in-depth journalism.
Here are a few strange, memorable and successful Kickstarter projects from the past few years:
This year saw the first project aimed at developing a genetically modified organism. A team of two biochemists and a microfinance expert planned to use Kickstarter funds to create a glowing plant that could eventually be used as a green way to light cities and streets without electricity.
On their page, the founders wrote about their hope for the future of “DIY Bio enthusiasts” who will have the technology to create their own projects.
“We want to create a signature project which inspires them and demonstrates to the world what’s already possible with a little creativity and imagination,” they wrote.
All backers in the U.S. received seeds to grow their own glowing plant. In the end more than 8,000 pledgers brought raised $484,013 – far more than their original goal of $65,000.
The toy set made especially for girls became popular this year after a series of viral commercials.
“I’m creating GoldieBlox to inspire girls the way Legos and erector sets have inspired boys,” wrote Debbie Sterling, a Stanford engineer and creator of the construction toy and book set, on the project’s Kickstarter page.
In 2012, the project earned $285, 881 from 5,519 backers in just 30 days.
In 2012, Kickstarter backers made Chattanooga the first American city with its own font. Its creators, Jeremy Dooley and Robbie De Villers, teamed in 2012 to make it happen.
“First, we want our precious city, beautiful Chattanooga, to have its own typeface,” they wrote on the project page. “Second, we want Chattanooga to be the poster child for municipal branding in America.”
It took 311 backers and $11,476 to make it happen over a period of three months.
It was integrated into billboards, the public library and even bike lanes.
Between March 13 and April 12 last year, screenwriter Rob Thomas managed to drum up $5.7 million from 91,585 people to make a movie based on Veronica Mars.
The television show aired between 2004 and 2007, starring Kristen Bell as a teenage private investigator.
Donations were still arriving when production began in June. The feature film is now complete and will be released this year.
Funders who donated $400 would be followed by Kristen Bell and Rob Thomas on Twitter “for an entire year,” and receive a movie poster, DVD and T-shirt. A $600 pledge is worth a personalized video greeting from Kristen Bell and a $2,500 pledge gets the donor a walk-on role in the movie and lunch with the cast and crew, along with other goodies. One person paid $10,000 to win a speaking role in the movie. Their line: “Your check, sir.”
The customizable watch lets users receive messages and email notifications from their phone, customize the face and use different apps.
“Pebble is the first watch built for the 21st century,” reads the page created by Pebble Technology.
It can be used as a GPS tracker, a music player and even a rangefinder for golfers.
More than $10 million was pledged by 68,929 backers. Putting in $115 would earn a single watch, while $10,000 would merit a hundred.