The cool thing about crowdfunding is the innovation that it tends to breed. Every so often an amazing idea shows up on Kickstarter or Indiegogo and you’re just blown away by it. The world is full of creative and incredible people who have come up with some ideas that may very well change the world we live in, thanks to some ingenuity and generosity. Though there are a lot to choose from, these are some of our favorite crowdfunding wins of all time.
The Coolest Cooler
Why would anyone care about a cooler, you might ask. Well, to start with, coolers are pretty cool in general, and not just in the literal sense. You want to have a fun poolside or beach party, you need stuff kept cold. It’s an essential piece of camping gear and party gear and basically synonymous with fun. But that’s just any cooler.
The Coolest Cooler was a Kickstarter campaign back in 2014. 62,000 backers pledged over $13 million so you know this was no ordinary cooler. Described as the Swiss Army Knife of coolers, it features 55 quarts of storage space, Bluetooth speakers, a USB charger, a blender, plates, a ceramic knife, a cutting board, a bottle opener, and a rechargeable battery. If you like outdoor parties or tailgate parties, this cooler basically blows any other one out of the water.
Before he was in the engineering bay on the Enterprise as Geordi Laforge, LeVar Burton was known to a lot of kids as the Reading Rainbow guy. He wanted you to read books. And at the time that might not have been significant, but nowadays when you shake your head at some of the crap kids do, you kind of wish they had someone encouraging them to read and get educated. Enter LeVar!
The original Reading Rainbow aired on PBS throughout the 80s and 90s, apparently all the way until 2006. The show won literally hundreds of awards including 11 Emmys. After its cancellation, host LeVar Burton helped build a reading Rainbow app in 2012 that was released on iPad to give children unlimited access to books. In 2014, the Kickstarter campaign was launched to provide greater access to the app by making it available pretty much everywhere including classrooms and to raise the overall literacy rate of American children. In the end, 105,000 backers raised over $5 million, which shows a lot of people are interested in investing in their future.
Thirty years ago computers were about advanced enough to handle giving you dysentery on the Oregon Trail and making you frustrated with your inability to control ET in Atari’s terrible home game. Since then they’ve become so ubiquitous you probably have one on your desk, your wrist, in your phone, your car, your coffee maker and maybe several connected to your TV which itself is pretty advanced these days as well. Now imagine if everyone knew how the damn things worked.
A lot of us can handle a bit of computer troubleshooting, but imagine if everyone was able to understand coding. If the basics of computer language were taught alongside English and Math at school such that everyone had the opportunity to understand how these machines work and, naturally, write their own code and improve on existing programs in the future. That’s the goal of Code.Org, an Indiegogo campaign that wants to teach kids how to code so, in the future, we don’t have to all be like our parents trying to figure out where the “any” key is and not understanding how to turn bold off.
Code.org raised over $5 million on Indiegogo and their non-profit is still working today to help implement more computer sciences in classrooms across the country.
The Micro 3D Printer
It’s been said that 3D printing might be the next step in technological evolution, a product and process that could change the way the entire world works. It’s hard to wrap your head around that today when most of what we see 3D printers doing is making desktop trinkets, but there’s definitely something to it when you consider the widespread implications the technology presents us with. That said, the Micro 3D printer might not change your world, but it’s arguably the first and easiest to get 3D printer for the average joe at home who wants to play with the technology. You won’t be 3D printer machines of war or human tissue, but you can learn a lot about how the technology works and it makes a pretty cool toy.
Nearly 12,000 backers supported the Micro, a desktop 3D printer about the size of a toaster, by donating $3.4 million to its campaign. The Micro is marketed towards artists, students and engineers and offers the basic versatility of any 3D printer, it’s kind of limited by your imagination, really. And maybe size, since you’re probably not building a functional car or anything with it.
It’s possible no single crowdfunding project has ever gotten as much press as the Oculus Rift, a machine gamers, geeks, porn fans and anyone with a passing interest in tech has had their eye on since 2012. Unlike much hyped pieces of tech like the Segway or Google Glass which were kept under wraps and then revealed to audiences that couldn’t have cared less, Oculus has been in development, fairly openly, for all this time so people could follow along and see the progress and evolution of the technology. The hype is not in PR spin or secrets about what it maybe is, the hype is all about seeing how it works already and knowing what that means for down the road.
The Kickstarter campaign raised $2.5 million for the developer kit, which basically meant people who wanted to use the technology to make something out of it could do so, while end users like us sat back and watched videos of how awesome future VR video games would be.
Facebook went on to buy Oculus for $2 billion and probably a few of those Kickstarter backers were feeling like they didn’t get a return on their investment, but the rest of us are still waiting for the day when we can pop on that cool VR helmet and be immersed in a game that’s so lifelike we can’t tell the difference between it and the real world. Word is early 20916 is when the consumer version will finally be available.
How can you go wrong with a food product named after a science fiction movie that implies you’re engaging in cannibalism? You can’t!
Soylent, which is not made from people, was developed by a software engineer who just couldn’t be bothered with the hassle of eating. That’s probably sad to some people but hey, if you don’t care and you just want to stay alive, then this product makes a lot of sense.
Made from rice flour, soy, cellulous and various oils, the whole point behind soylent is to provide the essential nutrients to keep you alive and literally nothing else. No flavor, no bells and whistles, nothing to keep you interested at all. You mix it, drink it and you continue to be a healthy human. Enough people liked the idea that it raised over $3 million on Tilt and is the most successful food-based crowdfunding project to date. While it may not be for everyone, some people have likened it to dishwater or Play-Doh, for those who don’t need the hang up of preparing meals or thinking about what to cook, not to mention the cost of groceries as Soylent seems to only cost about $150 a month, it’s a pretty good idea.
Solar Freakin’ Roadways
Just look at this;
That video helped raise $2,263,857 towards the dream of solar powered roads. What does that mean? Exactly what it sounds like – roads made from solar cells, able to stand up to 250,000lb trucks that will store energy from the sun, are able to melt snow and can cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to 75%. The goal is to one day be able to have it such that the roads can transfer energy directly to electric cars driving on them so they can charge while in motion. If the country were paved in solar cells including parking lots, the potential energy production would be astounding.
Part of the plan is also to include kick ass LED light displays in the roads to improve visibility and decrease accidents at night.