What Kickstarter Made the Most Money & what you can learn from them

what kickstarter made the most money

What Kickstarter Made the Most Money & what you can learn from them

Thanks to Kickstarter, hundreds of new projects have been able to launch to market without the need for VC or angel investments. In fact, most Kickstarter success stories like the Travel Tripod, the Exploding Kittens, and many others have gone on to become successful eCommerce products.  

In this article, we’ll zero in on what was the most-funded Kickstarter project of all time and what makes a Kickstarter project successful.

We’ll also be answering additional questions as:

  • What Products Do Well on Kickstarter
  • What is the Most Popular Category on Kickstarter?
  • What is the Success Rate of Kickstarter
  • What Percentage of Kickstarter Campaigns Fail?
  • How much does the Average Kickstarter Make?

Let’s dig in.

Pebble Time as the Most Funded Kickstarter Project

In the history of Kickstarter projects, Pebble Time holds the distinction of being the most funded Kickstarter project, raising a staggering $20 Million in just one month.

It was an extraordinary feat backed by 78,463 enthusiastic supporters, making it the fastest project ever to reach $1 million in a mind-blowing 49 minutes, surpassing its initial campaign goal of $100K by leaps and bounds.

Back in 2012, Pebble Time emerged as a second-generation smartwatch, boasting cutting-edge technology, including an e-paper screen with an impressive one-week battery life, all at an affordable price of $179.

Pebble Time’s tremendous success, however, faced stiff competition when industry giants like Fitbit and Apple released their own smartwatches in 2015. Despite its glorious start, Pebble eventually encountered challenges, leading to the company filing for insolvency in December 2016 and ultimately selling certain assets to Fitbit.

Despite these challenges, Pebble’s journey left behind a lasting legacy and a blueprint on how to cultivate a solid community of supporters. Even to this day, countless individuals continue to believe in Pebble’s exceptional design and groundbreaking technology.

Other Successful Kickstarter Projects by Funding Amount

Coolest Cooler – $13 Million

The cooler built for the 21st century. It was a high-tech cooler with a built-in blender and tech features ahead of its time.

The campaign was a success with 60K backers, 50,000 of whom pledged more than $200 for the cooler.

As much as this was a stellar Kickstarter success, it was also a huge failure post-campaign. Coolest Cooler was never able to deliver the coolers on time and closed operations, citing ‘trade war’ as the reason for failure.

Frosthaven – $12.9 Million

Frosthaven, the sequel to Gloomhaven is one of the most successfully funded board games on Kickstarter. With 80K backers, the project was funded in just a few hours after the project went live. Frosthaven is expected to ship by 2022.

EcoFlow Delta Pro – 12.1M

The EcoFlow Delta Pro is a portable home battery that attempts to provide multiple days’ worth of backup energy for homes.

This project is an example of the diversity you can find on Kickstarter. From board games to home solutions, you can launch any kind of product on the platform – and if it meets people’s needs, you can quickly get funded by the community.

EcoFlow Delta Pro now successfully sells on Amazon.

Key Lessons to Learn from Top Kickstarter Projects

Regardless of their post-campaign failure, these top Kickstarter success stories had a brilliant mix of marketing + promotional strategies that are fundamental in making a Kickstarter campaign successful.

We’ve analyzed each of these campaigns from the perspective of a crowdfunding marketing agency and we believe here are some key things they did right to achieve the success they did.

If you can follow any of these lessons, you can be very successful with your Kickstarter campaign.

1. Be Sure the Market Has a Need for Your Product

Frosthaven was a sequel to Gloomhaven, an already very successful game. Why did the founder Isaac Childres launch Frosthaven, given that he has an established game company?

His response is a key learning lesson:

“We are a successful brand at this point, but I’m still not at all sure about how many copies of this sequel that I should print. We sold over 200,000 copies of Gloomhaven. Should I print that many? If only 10,000 people want the game and I print 200,000, that’s a disaster.”

Even if you’re an established organization, you have to KNOW if your product is even needed.

If you’re a new entrant, you can get market validation by running surveys and product validation ads on social media. You can also understand public sentiment by discussing your project on Reddit & Twitter.

2. Working with a Marketing Team

No matter how awesome your product, it cannot get to the first page of Kickstarter projects unless you promote the heck out of it.

This means you need a full-fledged marketing team. Or, a crowdfunding marketing agency.

Remember, regular digital marketing agencies are different from crowdfunding marketing agencies. You will need to hire a company that has success stories and case studies in product launches with crowdfunding.

You need to have a budget of at least $15,000 to inject into marketing and promotional costs.

A quick cost breakdown of a basic crowdfunding project:

Strategy + landing page + content = $3,000

Social media ads = $5,000

Product photography = $1,500

Commercial video = $3,000

PR & Promotions = $5,000

If you’re short on budget and cannot afford to hire a team or an agency, you can get freelance talents, however, you will need to give direction and do most of the homework.

All of these top funded Kickstarter success stories worked with crowdfunding marketing agencies to build campaign hype.

Want DIY crowdfunding? Enroll in this crowdfunding training course & learn how to carry out your own crowdfunding campaign.

3. Launching When the Time is Right

Launch time is one of the biggest factors that concerns Kickstarter campaigns. Launch at the wrong time and you could fail in meeting your goal. Launch at the right time and you could be a stellar hit – just like Coolest Cooler.

When it first launched in 2013, it failed to meet its $150,000 goal. The main reason is that November – December are the worst months for Kickstarter campaigns. With Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year, most people are generally out of budget.

Coolest Cooler founder Grepper decided to tweak the product and launch it in the summer! As Americans were gearing up for Independence Day and planning summer picnics, the Coolest Cooler was just what they needed! The campaign was so popular, that we’re still talking about it as one of the top-funded projects on Kickstarter ever, nearly 6 years later.

Here are some of the best times to launch on Kickstarter.

4. A Great Product is the First Success Factor of a Kickstarter Campaign

There’s a serious misconception that we as marketers HAVE to fix.


There. Said it.

This is especially true if you’re trying to launch a campaign on Kickstarter.

The Pebble Time watch for instance, didn’t need any aggressive form of marketing.

In 2012, they had just the product people wanted. Simple yet exciting technology for nerds, kids, sports enthusiasts, literally anyone who wanted a ‘smart’ watch.

The product spoke for itself. With the right marketing strategy, it became legendary.

People often think it’s easy to succeed on Kickstarter if you just promote the heck out of your product.  What they don’t realize is that if your product is not something the audience wants or can relate to, your campaign won’t make it.

Before you spend tens of thousands on marketing & promotion, make sure your product is a good market fit and it’s something people want.

5. Prepare Well in Advance

The top Kickstarter campaigns were those that had already worked on their social and digital footprints way before launch.

Why? Because again, Kickstarter is all about bringing your community of supporters together to fund your project. The more supporters/followers you have, the easier it will be to reach out to them and get them to fund your project.

You have to:

  1. Build an email list of up to at least 500 – 1,000 people
  2. Develop relationships with tech journalists and PR professionals
  3. Prepare your digital assets in advance (landing pages, website, email funnels etc).
  4. Build your founder brand on social media sites
  5. Show the actual work being done

There are countless Kickstarter campaigns that have failed without spending adequate time in preparing for launch. You don’t just crowdfund. You have to prepare your business and your brand way in advance before starting a campaign.

The campaign itself will last only for 30 days of which only the first and the last week is where the action lies.

Some Facts to Help You Determine if You Should Consider Kickstarter

We recommend you do a deep dive into top Kickstarter projects of your category and note down key metrics such as funding goal and funding raised, number of backers, and what were some things they did right.

Here’s some additional information to help you decide if you should consider Kickstarter.

What Products Do Well on Kickstarter

Products that people can afford to buy to make their daily activities better do extremely well on Kickstarter. Items like a smart wallet, smartwatch, board games, tech gadgets, are very popular.

High-end projects that come with a hefty price (anything above $200) seldom do well on Kickstarter unless you have very strong product positioning with an impressive digital footprint – much like we did for iiRcade, a high-end arcade gaming box that sold at $399/piece.

What is the Most Popular Category on Kickstarter?

Games! Board games and video games are the most popular categories on Kickstarter with some 1.6 billion U.S. dollars pledged. Two of the most highly funded game projects were Frosthaven & Exploding Kittens. Design, technology, film & video, and music were the next most funded categories.

What is the Success Rate of Kickstarter

As of 2021, Kickstarter has a success rate of 39.30%. This means, out of 542,921 projects launched, 212, 149 projects were successfully funded.

What Percentage of Kickstarter Campaigns Fail?

Of the 542,921 projects, 327, 656 projects were unsuccessfully funded.

How much does the Average Kickstarter Make?

Well, let’s say you have a 0.08% of making a million bucks!

Ok well, let’s be real.

1 out of 1,250 project hits the $1 million mark on Kickstarter – but we’re talking about projects in the games, design, and tech categories.

Now, before you get uber excited, here’s a reality check:

There have been 453,585 projects launched since Kickstarter was founded in 2009.

And only 369 have raised $1 million or more.

The average amount you can raise on Kickstarter is $23K.

Quick Recap

  1. Pebble Time made the most Kickstarter money, i.e, $13 million
  2. Prepare for your campaign well in advance
  3. Keep a budget aside of at least $10,000 for marketing costs
  4. Always make sure you do adequate market research before launch
  5. Work with a crowdfunding marketing agency (like us!)

Making money on Kickstarter is possible. If you need to talk to an expert, feel free to reach out to us for a free consultation call!

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