Here are 5 of our favourite Crowdfunded success stories – projects that captured the public’s imagination and met their funding goals: meaning brilliant products you can buy right now.
Kickstarter and IndieGogo have quickly become the go-to crowdfunding platforms for creative projects, from avant-garde documentaries and gaming apps to drones, environmental causes and new children’s story books. In its first five years, Kickstarter alone has raised nearly $1 billion for more than 50,000 projects. And it’s not just about raising money these days either: such is the power of the platforms to gauge market interest, get product feedback and forecast sales that huge multinational companies are (controversially) getting in on the act as well, using unknown subsidiaries to test new product lines before launch.
This week we spoke to the team behind the fantastic wooden block toys Ollie’s Blocks and their new Kickstarter campaign and it inspired us to round-up five of our favourite success stories so far in the kids sector. If you know of a great crowdfunded project you think our readers would love to hear about, get in touch and let us know on Facebook or Instagram.
1. I am Squarehead
“Square head, round thoughts”. So read the Facebook status that led to screenwriter Simon Frank and his friend and illustrator Margit Mulder creating the beautiful and heartwarming tale I am Squarehead – a book for “any child who’s ever felt like a misfit.” Along with his friends Chinwag the dog and Hairy Scary monster, Squarehead goes on an adventure and learns to find his place in the world. And, of course, finds a happy ending.
Reaching their funding target on Kickstarter in less than 3 days, Squarehead is now taking the world by storm. A second book (backed by Virgin Start-Up) will be released this year, soft toys are in the pipeline and Squarehead himself is soon to be the face of a brand: look out for that adorable square face on Ocado’s Wholegood kids organic snack range, launching soon.
Get the book and other Squarehead goodies at IAmSquarehead.com
2. Alpha Zoo
The three dad team behind Alpha Zoo reached their £5k funding target on Kickstarter in 2013 within weeks, allowing them to bring their fun, educational and beautifully illustrated alphabet learning app to the world. Now a 5-star-rated app on the App Store, they’ve also launched a book as well for little learners. The app teaches letter shapes and sounds, and allows kids to practice tracing upper and lower case letters. As they unlock each letter, its animal counterpart and tongue twisting rhyme are freed – from ant-snorting anteaters and fancy flamingos to slithery snakes and wobbly walruses.
3. Robot Turtles
No round-up would be complete without the most backed board game in Kickstarter history. Robot Turtles was the ‘accidental’ success of father and Google alum, Dan Shapiro, who created the game using ClipArt and a printer for his own kids. Realising that he might be on to something with a traditional board game that also helped teach basic programming concepts to pre-school kids, he launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $25,000. He reached his target in less than 24 hours and eventually raised an incredible $631,200 to launch the game.
Although a board game, it mimics popular video game concepts to keep kids hooked – they dictate their turtle’s movement around the board with code and bug cards to overcome obstacles and unlock powers along the way. It’s a really fun way for non-tech parents to support younger kids though the new primary school coding curriculum, but also comes with advanced gameplay ideas for older kids and teenagers.
A second outing for mifold on Mr Fox (it first appeared in our June Favourite Five) but it’s just too brilliant not to feature here. Heralded as the most innovative development in car seat technology for decades, the mifold booster is 10 times smaller than an average booster seat (it folds down to around the size of an iPad mini), fits easily inside a glovebox or backpack and allows you to seat three children in a row comfortably.
Aimed at children aged 4 to 12, it works by doing the exact opposite of traditional booster seats: rather than raise the child up to the seat belt, it holds the seat belt down so that it can be positioned safely across the child. Simple, huh? The brainchild of British father of four Jon Sumroy, the project secured private funding (including from the original team behind Innocent) before launching its pre-sale campaign on IndieGogo, where it has already secured over $1 million. Perfect for travelling, school runs and grandparents, pre-orders are open for shipping in March 2016.
London-based Primo smashed their initial £35k fundraising target on Kickstarter, with £65k raised from over 650 pledgers. A slick addition to the growing number of ‘real life’ technology toys, Primo centres around Cubetto, a cool little wooden robot that kids program using a simple (also wooden) programming board and coloured blocks. As far as tech toys go, it’s incredibly tactile and intuitive and the block system means that kids don’t need to be able to read or write to learn basic programmatic concepts.
A further crowdfunding campaign on CrowdCube is currently underway, with over £300,000 of further investment secured so far. It’s been so popular, in fact, that the play set has completely sold out, but a further delivery is expected this Spring. Along with the basic playset, they also offer a collection of wooden houses, trees and fences to create a miniature world for Cubetto to explore.
Find out more and register for the next delivery round at www.primotoys.comKate Douglas-Hamilton is Mr Fox co-founder. A recovering lawyer, she now writes about food and kids technology. She has one son, aged 4. Find her on Twitter @katedh.