6 examples of crowdfunding successes and why they worked
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published 6 July 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Although people have incredible business ideas all the time, very few have the resources to make them a reality. Many ideas have potential, but people often lack the funding to develop them fully or the presentation skills to showcase them to investors. This is where crowdfunding can help you cover costs and reach an audience directly. In this article, we discuss some of the more successful examples of crowdfunding, the platforms on which they took place and how successful products and companies launch as a result of crowdfunding.
6 examples of crowdfunding success
There are many successful examples of crowdfunding, with many companies relying on crowdfunding platforms to create brand new products. Building a significant fund from interested customers before launch is a good way of ensuring that a product is commercially viable. Below are six examples of successful crowdfunding campaigns and why these companies succeeded in building a customer base from a crowdfunding platform:
Now a global name in beverages, Scottish brewery Brewdog was able to grow thanks to crowdfunding. Branded as 'Equity for punks', early fundraising stages for Brewdog included taking a company known for brewing small batches of craft beers to raising a total of £126 million throughout the duration of the campaign. This is a strong foundation on which any company can build, developing the marketing strategy beyond the world of crowdfunding and into the much wider retail space.
A further advantage to Brewdog's development is its non-profit and environmental activity. Brewdog's key advertising point at the time of writing is its role as 'The world's first carbon-negative brewery', placing them as a conscientious option for investors looking for options aligning with their views. This is an effective strategy, placing the company in a market of its own as an environmentally active brewery.
2. Pebble Time
Pebble Time is a world-famous smartwatch launched on Kickstarter. At the time of writing, the project is the highest funded in Kickstarter history, developing from a concept to holding over $20 million in funding on the back of early-production concepts and a long-term vision for the product's development. Many of the features in question orient themselves around the customer, emphasising difficulties people have with other watches, such as struggling to read LED and OLED displays in direct sunlight. In response, Pebble Time replaced these options with an e-paper display.
Many people consider Pebble Time to be the pre-eminent example of successful crowdfunding. From basic concept art and introductory descriptions to companies, the product holds the record for the most funding of all projects on Kickstarter, with its processors Pebble and Pebble 2 holding two of the top nine places on the Kickstarter chart around Pebble Time. This is demonstrative of how, in addition to emphasising creativity and branding in a campaign, crowdfunding new products for existing brands is a valid route forwards for businesses.
3. The Paradox Paradox
A significant proportion of crowdfunding is from brands seeking a transition from one industry or product to another while ensuring they have enough funds to remain financially secure. This is the case of Daniel 'NerdCubed' Hardcastle's transition to writing books rather than content creation. After writing a non-fiction piece, Hardcastle crowdfunded a science fiction book, using his reach throughout a fanbase in the funding of the project. Making full use of the publishing crowdfunding site Unbound, the project sits at 977% of its initial crowdfunding goal at the time of writing.
There's a lesson to learn from this example. Although bringing knowledge from one field to another is key, transferring resources such as support and positive sentiment is a major step in finding success when crowdfunding a product.
4. Flow Hive 2
Flow Hive 2 is an example of specificity in crowdfunding playing a significant role in the success of pitches. People don't typically anticipate that a product for beekeepers could be one of the highest earners on any given crowdfunding website, yet this is the case on the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo. Flow Hive 2 saw success in a crowdfunding campaign with over £10 million in funding from backers. The product focuses on providing 'honey on tap' from beehives without negatively impacting the bees within the structure.
Highly niche job roles and industries receive relatively minimal investment and innovation due to the small return on investment for the company in question. When a product launches on a crowdfunding site with the core intention of establishing interest, establishing the extent to which a product might sell is simple. This is a more accurate method of establishing a product's successes and failures than a strategist's estimates and increases access to key products going forwards.
5. Gloomhaven and Frosthaven
Gloomhaven is a board game funded on the Kickstarter platform, with designer Isaac Childres implementing his personal passions and preferences in board games when designing his own game set in a fantasy world. The project's funding stands at just under $4 million at the time of writing, and the game's publication in 2017 was successful. Expanding beyond the world of the crowdfunding campaign, Gloomhaven is currently a retail product due to the success of the early campaign.
The lesson crowdfunding hopefuls can learn from Gloomhaven is that passion is integral to the success of any given campaign. A crowdfunding hopeful intends to get enough customers interested in a product to ensure the product's manufacture. Creating that interest is much simpler when the designer's passion is evident. In the case of Gloomhaven, the campaign went so well that the sequel, Frosthaven, has a campaign with almost $13 million already funding the project.
The case of OUYA demonstrates both the advantages and disadvantages of a crowdfunding project. OUYA was an open-ended gaming console, earning over $8 million in the crowdfunding stage of the project. This aspect of the pitch was highly attractive and drew in many investors as the project exceeded its initial goals nine-fold. The intention of combining mobile games with a large screen experience is attractive, and the professional branding was a significant factor in its success.
Despite the successful nature of the crowdfunding project, its execution was less of a clear-cut victory for the company. The OUYA sold a total of 200,000 units and had many significant technical flaws. The lesson companies can learn from the OUYA is that the successful execution of the project itself is necessary in addition to raising funds. This converts the pitch from a product to an effective and long-term business that the creator holds an interest in.
How to build a crowdfunding campaign
Creating an effective crowdfunding campaign is an essential part of developing a product in this way. Only with a high-quality crowdfunding campaign do products see release in the long term. Some of the key steps in developing a crowdfunding campaign are below, in addition to why they're essential:
1. Design your product
Designing a unique product is an integral part of a successful crowdfunding campaign. Focusing on creating a unique and interesting product sets your product apart from the opposition and gives you an advantage in gaining backers. Try to make a product that personally interests you, as this can assist your product development and marketing efforts.
2. Complete the branding
In addition to emphasising a product's strengths, focusing on its branding is key. A strong and unique brand sets the crowdfunding campaign apart from competing products. It also draws attention and more financial backing as the aims and purposes of the product become more defined.
3. Create your page
Once your branding and product design are in place, focus on creating a comprehensive crowdfunding page. Filling this out in as much detail as possible is essential. This informs the platform algorithms and customers alike about the product, improving its ranking on searches and placing it for higher investment.
4. External marketing
In addition to your crowdfunding page, create an external marketing campaign focusing on the benefits of your product. The best examples of crowdfunding advertise outside of the base platform itself, increasing the reach of the product as much as feasibly possible. If you can identify a target audience for your product early on, you can focus on addressing specific platforms that are most appropriate to them.
Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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