What are the most successful Kickstarter projects, but success defined by the project goals?
February 27, 2012 10:34 PM   Subscribe

What are the most successful Kickstarter projects, but success defined by the project goals, and not fundraising?

Kickstarter has been in the news a lot recently, with several projects breaching the million dollar fundraising level. However, these projects have yet to start or even reach their project goals. I've browsed quite a few Kickstarter projects, and far too many seem to be development limbo - a year later. Others have made updates a backer-only perk; or have simply accomplished what their project goals, and no further.

I'm sure there are some Kickstarter projects which made great use of their funds, accomplished their goals, and went on to be more successful than their founders would ever dream - which are these projects?
posted by meowzilla to Technology (5 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Studio Neat is one of the classic examples of product-focused, hip, iphoney Kickstarter projects - their Glif & Cosmonaut are hugely commercially successful, and the company (via their about page) was basically bootstrapped entirely from the site.
posted by tmcw at 11:33 PM on February 27, 2012

Best answer: I can talk a little about my own experience on Kickstarter in three projects:

First project is A History of the Future in 100 Objects, a book where I'm writing around 1000 words on 100 objects from the future. So... while I've written a lot of columns and articles for papers, I haven't actually written a book, which has meant that this is taking way longer than I expected. But I'm getting there.

Second project is Balance of Powers, an online serialised story I'm writing with three friends, Andrea Phillips, David Varela, and Naomi Alderman. This is going better because we'd actually written most of it when we put the Kickstarter project up, and we have a track record of doing these novella-length stories together. Still though, it's not plain sailing because we've had to contend with legal and admin issues regarding forming a partnership between the UK and US.

Third project is Zombies, Run!, a game co-created by my company Six to Start and Naomi Alderman. This has been wildly successful - forget about the money raised from Kickstarter, we just launched yesterday to five star reviews and we hit the top ten in Top Grossing apps worldwide. Part of the reason why this has gone so well is because this is what we do best - we make games that combine storytelling and real world interaction, and the people involved have about 30+ years of experience in this combined. We were also ruthlessly focused - the app doesn't do a lot, but what it does, it does very well.

A couple of lessons:

1) A track record is absolutely vital. A lot of the delays in projects I've done and other people have done come from simple inexperience in, say, how long it takes to print a book or get manufacturing done.

2) Poor budgeting and time management. It's hard to do good work in your spare time if you have a day job. I've also seen way too many projects asking for way too little money to produce the goods they're promising.

Some projects that I think have gone pretty well are Teleportraiture, Art of the Problem, Arcade: The Last Night At Chinatown Fair documentary - which hasn't finished yet, but I got an awesome T-shirt out of it, which made me very happy.

That last point touches on something very important. People's standards of success differ. tmcw mentioned the Cosmonaut stylus - I backed that, and I have it sitting in front of me right now. It's pretty decent, but it was many, many months late. Is this bad? Well, if you feel that Kickstarter is just a place to pre-order products in a timely fashion, yes, it's really bad. But if you think that Kickstarter is a way to help individuals and organisations break new ground in new areas, then maybe that's the price you have to pay (and maybe they won't have the kind of track record yet that you'd like); and it's fine to consider the site from both perspectives.
posted by adrianhon at 2:07 AM on February 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Quinn Popcorn was backed to nearly 300% in August 2011 and appears to be going strong today. Here's a Boston.com article about them from about a month ago.
posted by danb at 9:57 AM on February 28, 2012

Best answer: Great question. The Kickstarter Blog regularly features updates on successful, completed projects and their impact.

There are so many, but here are some of the bigger highlights: But I think focusing on the big projects hides a different kind of success: the thousands of smaller, lesser-known creators that tapped into their fanbases to create, finish, and release their albums, films, comic books, food carts, novels, videogames, crazy-ass hardware project, and more. Many of them have gone on to create multiple projects, effectively building a career off Kickstarter.

Almost all of these are off-the-radar of the mainstream press, but have had significant impact in each of their respective mediums. It's revolutionized the board game community, for example, which is now able to produce limited-runs of their game ideas and, for some, kickstart a sustainable business doing what they love.
posted by waxpancake at 1:00 PM on February 28, 2012 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Our project to launch a new textile printing process ended two years ago. Since then, we've turned Lumi into a business and opened up the printing process to everyone by releasing the light-sensitive dyes that make our technique possible. Now the dyes are being used in Uganda and many other places around the world.

We're still going strong and recently started hiring great people to help us take the idea further. Thinking back, Kickstarter was an incredible launching point. Our goals were pretty ambitious and time was short – it forced us to quickly learn a lot about turning an idea into reality.
posted by kepano at 10:20 PM on February 28, 2012

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