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Five of the best: Kickstarter projects

Five of our favourite Kickstarter projects that backers have helped get off the ground.

Crowdfunding via the web has proved almost as popular as One Direction in recent years, with everyone from amateur inventors to aspiring musicians jumping on the bandwagon in search of financial support for their ambitions.   

The reason this has worked so well is that the public has been extremely receptive. In 2012 alone, the service saw more than two million people fund a total of 18,109 schemes. That amounted to a whopping £205,333,715 worth of investment being ploughed into various initiatives - astonishing for a website that only celebrated its fourth birthday in April.

So with all manner of wacky and wonderful pitches having secured funding on Kickstarter, we've decided to choose our five favourite projects. They aren't necessarily the biggest or the most successful, but they've certainly turned heads and captured the imagination of backers.

1. MaKey MaKey

Childish by name but genius by nature, MaKey MaKey is something for creative people of all ages.

The gadget takes a relatively simple concept and challenges users to be inventive with it, getting them to adapt typical household objects so as they're effectively capable of serving as an extended keyboard for a laptop or computer - even alphabet spaghetti works.

It sounds complicated, but by using a USB chip, alligator clips and anything that conducts electricity, it's possible to create some crazy gadgets. A Play-Doh gaming pad and a virtual piano played using bananas are just two examples of the huge range of possibilities that the product can help you realise.

MaKey Makey's developers only asked for £16,000, but smashed their target as they eventually raised a total of £364,825.

While its developers only asked for £16,000, they smashed their target by a mile, eventually hitting £364,825 - backers on Kickstarter were just as impressed as us.

2. Pebble

Far and away the most successful project on the site, Pebble raised an astounding £6,593,141 - an eye-watering figure by any standards, but especially dumbfounding considering its creators initially said they required a mere £64,200.

The product is a watch with a twist - it enables users to synchronise the gadget with applications downloaded to their smartphones. Such a capability can alert people when they receive a message, enable them to skip songs on their phones or even measure their pulse if they're doing cardio training.

Customisable and with countless other functions, Kickstarter went crazy for Pebble, with the watches now available for pre-order.

3. Inocente

All manner of documentaries and short films have secured funding through the site, but few of them have gone on to win an Oscar like Inocente, which picked up the Best Documentary (Short Subject) gong earlier this year.

Unlike some of the others on the list, Inocente hardly smashed its £32,000 goal - sneaking over the line with £33,673 - but its success is inspiring all the same.

What makes the documentary that extra bit special is that lead actress, Inocente Izucar, was homeless until directors Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine approached her to star in the film. How's that for heart-warming?

Ever wanted someone to tell you when your washing machine is finished or the doorbell's been ringing? Twine can do that for you.

4. Twine

Ever wanted someone to tell you when your washing machine is finished or the doorbell's been ringing? Twine can do that for you, sending you texts, tweets or emails that alert you to certain events around your home - even when you're not there.

One of the best things about the little box is its ease of use - it's all set up by a web app that you access on your computer or laptop. There's no complicated programming jargon to wrap your head around either: it's as simple as typing something along the lines of 'text when doorbell rings'. What's more, it's customisable, so can be adapted to serve a huge array of purposes.

With a target of £22,400 and backing of £357,123, Twine is up there with MaKey MaKey in the cool and popular stakes.

5. Project Eternity

They may not dominate this list, but games have provided some of the most popular and highly-funded Kickstarter projects over the past four years. By our reckoning, Project Eternity is the biggest.

Securing £2,559,333 worth of funding, this RPG - based in a fantasy world - is set to launch next year, with its 73,986 backers clearly eager to get their hands on the game. With all the features of a fixating fictional tale, Project Eternity looks set to be a hit in the gaming community.

While some of the projects listed above may not be the richest, they all have the credentials to produce fantastic products - and a fantastic product is exactly what a business needs if it's going to get the support it needs to succeed.