Kickstarter Is Helping People Raise Serious Cash For Their Projects

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Photo: Flickr/vlad

Crowd sourced funding site Kickstarter has been kicking arse for would-be entrepreneurs.So far in 2012, two projects have raised over $1 million. Several others have surpassed $250,000.

A project must reach its funding goal before time runs out or no money changes hands. That way creators don’t get locked into developing a project if they don’t  have enough money and contributors don’t get stuck paying for crummy ideas.

Project owners have to promise something of value in exchange to those that contribute, but not the typical financial incentives such as ownership, a share of profits, or repayment. Instead the so-called “Kickstarter economy” is based on other types of rewards like copies of the work, limited editions or just plain fun experiences (such as dinner with a famous person).

Here are the 8 biggest awards for tech products so far…

8. Daniel Chin raised $262,351 to turn thumb drives into file servers.

Who: Daniel Chin founder of Apple accessory maker Sanho, in Fremont, CA.

How much: Chin got backers to contribute $262,351 when the project closed on January 6. This was fortunate as he was asking for more than the typical Kickstart project, $100,000.

For what: CloudFTP will turn any USB storage into a device that can wirelessly share files with the iPad and iPhone. Chin offered backers free products and also promised those that pledged $500 to include them in the ads placed he would place in a couple of popular Mac magazines.

7. Justin Jensen snags $486,518 for putting an iPhone camera on wheels

Who: Justin Jensen a mechanical engineer from Austin, TX and photo/film buff and his firm Cinetics.

How much: He asked for $20,000 and got $486,518 when the project closed in October.

For what: CineSkates are a set of three wheels that quickly attach to a tripod and enable fluid, rolling video. They require a GorillaPod Focus tripod. He set a retail price of $200 and Jensen gave backers at the $150 level a set of CineSkates. For bigger backers he threw in the GorillaPod, too.

6. David Carr and John Kestner got $556,541 to connect objects to the Internet.

Who: Designer-engineers David Carr and John Kestner and their firm Supermechanical.

How much: They asked for $35,000 and got $556,541 when the project closed on January 3.

For what: Twine is a device that lets you add Internet connectivity and apps to any object at all, without any geek skills. The designers say it can do things like let you get a tweet when your laundry's done, or get an email if the basement floods while you're on vacation.

For those pledging $100 or they not only offered two free Twines, but also a t-shirt and a card that let people give Twine as gifts -- and batteries were included.

5. Brook Drumm raised $830,827 for home office 3D printer.

Who: Brook Drumm an hobby inventor with a day job as a programmer (web designs, iPhone apps).

How much: Drumm raised $830,827 for Printrbot when funding closed in December. He was asking for $25,000.

For what: 3D printing is amazing as it allows you to machine a real object as if you were printing its photo. It was Drumm's goal to build a low-cost version that could become 'a printer in every home.' 1,808 backers agreed. Drum set rewards for as little as $1 -- though that only got a backer their name listed on his website. Those paying $500 or more got a full kit to assemble their own Printrbot including the materials to start printing.

4. Scott Wilson and company got $942,578 to turn an iPod Nano into a touchscreen watch.

Who: Scott Wilson and his Chicago industrial design studio, MINIMAL.

How much: Wilson was asking for $15,000 and raised $942,578 in December, 2010.

For what: TikTok and LunaTik are kits to turn an iPod Nano into a multitouch screen watch.he project gathered 13,512 backers and Wilson said that 76% of them actually went out and bought a Nano because of the TikTok or LunaTik products.

This was a Kickstarter record at the time and one of the projects that drew national attention to Kickstarter. It was featured on NBC's Rock centre with Brian Williams and the products won a 2011 iPod design award.

3. Two designers raised $938,771 for a Bluetooth radio with a hidden speaker.

Who: San Francisco-based industrial designers John Van Den Nieuwenhuizen (known as John VDN) and Vitor Santa Maria via their company Hidden Radio Design.

How much: $938,771, closed on January 18.

For what: Hidden Radio was hoping to raise $125,000 for this cool new radio design. Then its supporters posted it to Facebook and Twitter. The media saw and blogged about it, and funding for the project went crazy. The designers promised high-level backers several goodies, such as getting a party pack of five free radios and getting a special edition unit in white.

2. ElevationLab has raised $1,176,684 (and counting) to make a cool iPhone dock.

Who: Casey Hopkins, founder of ElevationLab, an industrial design and mechanical engineering firm in Portland, OR.

How much: As of Friday, the total was $1,176,684 and the project has a few hours left. Fundraising closes Feb. 11.

For what: A high-end iPhone dock made solid aluminium, same as the MacBooks. Hopkins is promising backers free docks, with big pledges getting an armful of docks in special edition colours. Charlie Sorrel at Wired said Elevation Dock is 'The Dock Apple should have made in the first place.'

1. DoubleFine has raised more than $1.33 million (and counting) to build a new game.

Who: Tim Schafer's firm Double Fine and the gang at 2 Player Productions.

How much: The tally is still rising, as the fund raising won't close until March 13. As of today, $1.33 million.

For what: Double Fine had hoped to raise $400,000 for its next adventure game. It succeeded in a matter of hours.

The incentives it offered for big pledges included dinner with Double Fine's founder, cult legend game designer Tim Schafer (Psychonauts) and key members of the dev team ($15,000 or more), becoming a character in the game ($50,000 or more) and for $150,000 or more Schafer promised to give up a copy of Triangle-Boxed Day of the Tentacles, in original shrink-wrap.

If you want the REALLY big bucks, though, consider paying a visit to these places....

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