Business Beyond Tomorrow

How crowdfunding can speed up Hyperloop and more

Crowdfunding for heavyweights

Crowdfunding isn't just for the little guys anymore. Well-known companies are getting in on the act, too.

The big-name projects seeking crowdfunding include everything from household appliances from General Electric to the Hyperloop—the high-speed transit concept envisioned by Elon Musk.

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, the company that plans to build a five-mile test track in California next year, was born out of a crowdfunding campaign at JumpStartFund. The track's construction is estimated to cost $100 million, CNBC previously reported.

Read MoreHyperloop moves closer to becoming reality

The proposed Hyperloop would be a transportation method in which pods could potentially carry passengers at more than 700 mph using tubes and vacuum, according to Musk's SpaceX, which focuses on commercial space travel.

GEc has also bet big on the crowdfunding model. Last year, the conglomerate partnered with Local Motors to develop FirstBuild, a website that connects crowdfunders with engineers and manufacturers. One of the program's products—a "nugget" icemaker—has raised $2.5 million on IndieGogo.

ET3 Hyperloop concept
Source: ET3

Another big company, Westinghouse, has used crowdfunding to back the development of a home door lock that uses fingerprint recognition, voice recognition and a camera to unlock doors. As of Thursday morning, the firm's Indiegogo campaign has drummed up more than $23,000 for that device.

But some small businesses have actually achieved exponentially more funding.

Affordable 3-D printer maker Deltaprintr raised $236,451 on Kickstarter, and Dame Products raised $790,622 on Indiegogo to fund the manufacturing of a couples vibrator.