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Kickstarter's 'best of' 2013: Virtual reality, human powered helicopters & hovercrafts

AeroVelo winning the Sikorsky prize for a human-powered helicopter.

Above: AeroVelo winning the Sikorsky prize for a human-powered helicopter.

Image Credit: AeroVelo

2013 was the year that many of Kickstarter’s most famous and adventurous projects became realities.

The popular crowdfunding platform released its “best of” 2013 list today with impressive numbers — Kickstarter campaigns raised an average of $1.3 million a day in 2013, which translates to $913 every minute.

3 million people pledged $480 million to Kickstarter projects last year, with 19,911 projects successfully funded.

That’s 36 percent more users, pledging 50.8 percent more dollars in 2013 than in 2012, when 2.24 million people pledged a total of $319 million.  

Kickstarter said these hundreds of millions of dollars flooded in from 214 countries and territories and from all seven contents, including Antarctica. Let adorable images of penguins donating to Kickstarter begin.

807,733 people backed more than one project, 81,090 backed 10 or more projects, and a hefty 975 people backed more than 100 projects.

Kickstarter also outlined key milestones from the year, namely when its blockbuster projects from years past shipped to users, or achieved their lofty goals.

Pebble smartwatch – which raised $10 million on Kickstarter and is the platform’s most funded project in history — began shipping in 2013 after months of delays. Pebble’s campaign closed in May 2012 when it hit the 85,000 order limit. However the campaign’s unanticipated and astonishing success created significant fulfillment challenges for Pebble’s team. The promised shipping date kept getting pushed back, until at last, it starting shipping in January.

2013 was also the year Oculus Rift started selling pre-orders of its developer kits. Oculus Rift is an immersive virtual reality headset designed for video games, so you really feel as though you are in an alternate world. (I know, I’ve tried. A shark ate me and I walked on the moon.) The campaign raised $2,437,429 dollars in 2012.

Gaming console Ouya also hit the mainstream last year. The console shipped to backers after Ouya raised $8,596,474 on Kickstarter, Android devices arrived at Target, and there are now hundreds of games in its library.

Another Kickstarter favorite is Goldieblox, a construction toy and book series that encourages young girls to build and develop an interest in science and engineering. STEM education was a hot topic in 2013, and GoldieBlox represents the growing movement to get girls excited about tech.

An early Kickstarter project from 2009, to translate Moby DIck into Japanese Emoji Icons using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, entered the Library of Congress in 2013, and the “Delorean Hovercraft” project from 2010 finally cruised the San Francisco Bay.

A human powered helicopter, funded in 2012, took flight and won the Sikorsky Prize — a challenge issued 33 years ago to create a human powered flying machine that could reach a height of three meters and fly for 30 seconds. A Kickstarter project also sent an Ardunio satellite into space.

Kickstarter films also had a good year. The Kickstarter film Blue Ruin won at Cannes Film Festival, and Inocente won an Oscar. A Kickstarter campaign to revive the teen detective series Veronia Mars as a film beat a record by raising $1 million in four hours and ultimately pulled in $5.7 million.

Other notable moments include Kickstarter making it into Jeoparady and Cards Against Humanity questions.

These are some pretty cool, and pretty crazy, projects. And thus is the wonder of Kickstarter. You may not be able to get traditional investors to back your desire to build a hovercraft, or Hollywood execs to understand your cinematographic vision, but there may just be a community of people on Kickstarter who are willing to help you at least try and achieve the not-so-impossible.


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