Crowdfunding has really come into its own in recent years, with sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo helping to launch new products and even bring movies to the big screen thanks to generous investments from members of the public.
Whether you agree with crowdfunding or not - there are plenty of mixed reviews - there's no denying that it's a hotbed of ideas. From amazing inventions you wish you'd thought of to slightly less inspired ideas that you can't help but wonder were realized after a few too many! And everything in between.
Here are a few of my favorite crowdfunded projects and some that I think we should be pleased didn't quite make it…
1. Star Citizen
I had to start with Star Citizen - the crowdfunding record-holder having attracted more than $124 million worth of funding by September 2016. The official launch of the multi-player space sim game is later this year, but people who purchase a pledge packet can already access some modules. A great example of how properly-targeted incentives for donors can help raise funds.
2. Exploding Kittens
If you've not played Exploding Kittens, where have you been for the past year? The card game was the brainchild of Elan Lee, Shane Small and Matthew Inman, who initially asked for $10,000 on Kickstarter. They reached their goal in just eight minutes and went on to attract $8,782,571 in pledges from 219,382 backers. The original game was turned into a mobile app and you can currently pre-order the sequel, Imploding Kittens, on Amazon.
3. Pebble Technology Smartwatches
Pebble Technology has had not one, not two but three Kickstarter campaigns over the years to raise funds for three generations of its Pebble smartwatch. The latest - for the Pebble 2 - raised over $1 million in an hour when it was launched on May 24 this year and collectively all three efforts have seen more than $40 million invested in the company. Well if it works…
And despite this, the company claims only 15% of its sales have been made through its crowdfunding campaigns - showing the products are hugely popular among regular consumers too.
4. Oculus Rift
Tech fans will definitely have heard of Oculus Rift - the virtual reality headset which Facebook bought for a cool $2 million in 2014. However, you may not know that this impressive piece of kit was only developed thanks to a Kickstarter campaign which raised $2.5 million. The Rift started shipping to consumers earlier this year and has sold tens of thousands of units so far, with some analysts suggesting it could be as many as a million.
5. Flow Hive
Something a bit different, but still a great idea. The Flow Hive is a new generation of bee hive which allows bee keepers to harvest honey without disturbing the bees inside, meaning there's no need to sedate the insects. It raised $12.4 million worth of funding and is a great example of how more unusual products can capture people's imaginations, and encourage them to part with their money.
And now for some that weren't so successful…
1. Little Eatz
The 'treat both you and your dog can eat' perhaps unsurprisingly failed to attract the big bucks. It raised just $251 of its $5,000 goal back in 2012.
2. PAUL smartphone charger
Even being the 'sexiest smartphone charger on the planet' wasn't enough to attract the funding it needed. Neither was the fact that it doubled up as a sculpture. PAUL managed to raise just $2,160 rather than the $8,000 it hoped for. So close.
Does your dog need an MP3 player? I thought not. Which is probably why PetPhone got just seven backers. It did manage to raise $10,112 towards its $196,000 goal though.
4. Cage Match
It's not just US entrepreneurs who come up with these wacky ideas. The world's first Nicholas Cage dating site, which pairs people up based on which of the actor's films is their favorite, seemed just so crazy it might have worked. But sadly it only got £3,193 ($4163.34) of the way towards its £20,000 goal.
Firecase isn't just a cell phone case - it doubles up as a cigarette lighter. What will people think of next? I'm sure it must be a fire risk, but luckily I don't have to worry as it only got 3.7% of the way towards its funding target.
The companies I mention or link to in this post are just examples that I thought you'd find interesting - I don't endorse them or their services. I have no affiliation with them and make no representation about their services.