When it comes to total dollars raised, Kickstarter is still the crowdfunding leader, with more than $2.5 billion in pledges. But Indiegogo, which has always been a big player in the field, is turning more heads than ever these days.
Indiegogo has raised more than $1 billion since 2008 across 690,000 campaigns and 11.5 million contributions. More than 175,000 campaigns ran on the site last year alone, with more than 2.5 million people making contributions toward a $300 million total. And that included some of the biggest campaigns in Indiegogo's history.
It is not easy to succeed with a crowdfunding campaign, but when they strike a chord with the audience, they can be financial blockbusters. Here's a look at Indiegogo's biggest wins.
If you're an ice muncher, you've come to treasure those restaurants that offer the soft nugget-shaped ice that's cold, soft and doesn't seem to carry the same tooth-cracking risk as regular ice. But getting it at home was impossible. The Nugget ice maker not only makes that possible, it does so without a dedicated water line, making up to 24 lbs. of ice per day (one pound per hour). The campaign topped its goals by 1,700 percent — and the company says it's just about to begin shipping units to backers.
Audiophiles are serious about improving the sound quality of their recordings, so this audio digital-to-analog converter and headphone amplifier hit the right notes with the intended audience. The pitch was that for the human ear to hear digital audio, it has to be converted back to analog by devices including smartphones and PCs, and existing converters were designed with minimal effort to keep costs down. The Pulse promised higher- quality sound to users. The company has shipped some units to backers at this point but acknowledged in June that production has been slower than expected — two months ago it had roughly 80 units left to ship. There has not been an update since then, but in early September some backers were still saying they hadn't received their units.
"Super Troopers 2" got more attention, but this web series, which took a humorous look at fictional stars on the convention circuit of the sci-fi community, resonated with its audience. It didn't hurt that it was created by Alan Tudyk, himself a beloved actor in that world for his work on "Firefly," nor that he was able to bring several of his actor friends, like Nathan Fillion, on board.
Capitalizing on the steady excitement over drones, the maker of this palm-size unmanned aircraft found an eager audience for the customizable device. Capable of shooting HD video, and with its low price of $215, it was a likely hit from the start. Add in components that make it easy to fly and expand and it's not so surprising it exceeded its goal by more than 3,000 percent. Units shipped to backers earlier this year.
This little robot is about as close as we're likely to get to R2-D2 for quite some time. Equipped with voice and facial recognition, the tiny device will do everything Siri does, but also does things like snap candid pictures and videos when people are smiling. The campaign exceeded its goal by more than 2,000 percent. And Jibo is scheduled to begin shipping in October.
The Broken Lizard comedy troupe scored a cult hit with 2001's "Super Troopers." And when the gang began considering the idea of a sequel, they turned to their fans. Those fans responded quickly, pledging more than any previous film project received in the first 24 hours. The $2 million goal was quickly obliterated, but stretch goals and perks convinced many people to contribute more than once. Filming begins later this year, but Broken Lizard is still accepting contributions.
If philanthropy is a hard sell in crowdfunding, education is an even harder one, but the Code.org team struck a chord with Indiegogo users in 2014 and is still striking one today. (Even Mark Zuckerberg donated to the campaign, which aimed to introduce computer science to 100 million students around the world and train 100,000 teachers.)
The initiative started after founders realized that 90 percent of schools didn't offer computer programming classes, leaving kids unprepared for the world they'd be walking into. The campaign officially ended in 2014, but it's still accepting donations.
Philanthropic efforts often do fairly well on crowdfunding sites, but few, if any, have done as well as this campaign to restore the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel in Atlanta. Some 282 backers donated more than $5 million to fix the chapel, which sits on the campus of Morehouse College and is named after the school's most famous graduate. (It required a new roof, new seating and a new HVAC system, among other issues.) The campaign fell short of its $8 million goal, but the money raised has helped start renovations on the facility.
Electric bikes are an affordable way to navigate the traffic woes of big cities that regularly deal with gridlock — and they could be the best friend of messengers who are on the go all day long — so it's little surprise that Sondors found success, but no one expected it to exceed its goal by nearly 7,000 percent. With a top speed of 20 mph and a range of 50 miles, it has since started shipping to backers.
Though it's the second highest-grossing project in Indiegogo's history, the creators of this campaign for a high-concept smartphone were ultimately disappointed with the total raised — as they had set a target of $32 million. That meant the Ubuntu Edge, which was designed as an Android smartphone that could also operate as a desktop PC when a monitor, mouse and keyboard were plugged in, never materialized. Backers got their money back, and the company behind the campaign, Canonical, later released the Ubuntu Phone, which hasn't found widespread support among U.S. carriers.
Who knew bees could be this popular? Flow Hive, introduced last year, is a different sort of hive for beekeepers, which eliminates a lot of the hard work that has historically been a part of harvesting honey (such as smoking the bees, lugging the heavy frames around and removing wax caps). Instead, you simply stick a tap into this tiny shed and the honey can be harvested directly into jars. The campaign was aimed at everyone from beginners to experts.