Thanks to its early dominance in crowdfunding, Kickstarter has become so ubiquitous, it's been the butt of jokes on the show "Portlandia" and in the New Yorker. But fundraisers take it seriously: On the five-year-old site, crowdfunders had raised more than $1.1 billion for 61,230 projects as of May 8—with 63 securing $1 million or more.
The site lets entrepreneurs use rewards-based crowdfunding, where supporters of a project pledge money in exchange for a small gift. It opted out of letting crowdfunders sell equity to accredited investors, which an SEC decision enabled last fall.
Kickstarter's most heavily funded project was the Pebble E-Paper Watch for the iPhone and Android phone, which raised $10.2 million from 68,929 backers in a campaign that ended in May 2012.
About half of Kickstarter's projects hit their fundraising goal, but the stakes are high: If projects don't meet their target in a set time period, the fundraisers collect nothing. Kickstarter takes a 5 percent fee if projects hit their funding goals.