If 2012 proved anything, it's that the country's entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well. No place can that spirit be better seen than on the online funding platform Kickstarter. The website has helped thousands of projects get off the ground. Here are some of our favorites from the past year.
Unveiled in September, the Ostrich Pillow offers a way to take a cozy and comfortable power nap anytime, anywhere. The pillow is designed to let users create a little private space to relax and unwind. Its soft interior shelter, made of synthetic stuffing, isolates the head and hands for a short break, without the user ever having to get up from a desk or chair. The project raised nearly $200,000 from 1,846 backers in 30 days.
Flipbookits are bringing old-fashioned art back to life. The Flipbookitis a rotating mechanical flip-book kit that can be loaded with either the provided ready-made animated art or custom-made art created by the owner. The Flipbookit holds 24 frames and can be used with black-and-white or color animation. With the help of more than 1,850 backers, the project raised $137,567 in just one month.
Hickies replace traditional shoelaces with a system that lets users easily slip in and out of their shoes while keeping them snug and secure. It eliminates the worry or need to ever tie or untie shoes again by turning every shoe into a slip-on. They adjust to any size shoe and come in a wide variety of colors and styles. With the help of more than 3,300 backers, Hickies raised nearly $160,000 in 45 days.
LIFX is a Wi-Fi-enabled, multicolor, energy-efficient LED light bulb that can be controlled with most any smartphone. LIFX gives users unprecedented control of their lights, reduces energy costs and lasts up to 25 years. LIFX enables users to create colors to match any mood or décor and can be set to a security mode when no one is home. In less than two months, 9,236 backers helped LIFX raise more than $1.3 million.
The PowerPot is a portable electric generator that doubles as a cooking pot. It can be used indoors or outside and works with any fuel source. Using a technology called thermoelectric power generation, the pot transforms the heat from cooking into electricity with no moving parts. Different models of pots are available, but each one can generate enough power to charge smartphones, MP3 players, or LED lights at one time. The larger models produce enough power to charge larger devices such as tablets. More than 1,000 backers helped the PowerPot raise $126,204 in just one month.
One of the most funded projects of the year, Pebble is a customizable watch that lets users download new watch faces, use sports and fitness apps and get notifications from their smartphone. Pebble connects to iPhone and Android smartphones using Bluetooth, alerting users with a silent vibration to incoming calls, emails and messages. If they choose, Pebble wearers can be alerted to a number of notifications, including Facebook messages, new tweets, weather updates and calendar alerts. The project raised more than $10 million from nearly 70,000 backers in less than six weeks.
ReadySet is a solar charger that can power up to 10 iPhones or run an iPad for 12 hours of continuous video play on a single charge. Beyond solar, the ReadySet's smart electronics and firmware lets users charge from virtually any source, including solar panels, bicycle generators and micro-wind turbines. The charger's design can be used to power all kinds of devices, such as lights, radios, cellphones, tablets and Wi-Fi hot spots, via its two open standard 12-volt car lighter adapter ports and two 5-volt USB ports. ReadySet had more than 500 backers raise $112,362 in less than a month.
Wobble Bowls are round-bottomed bowls that rock and spin, but won't tip over. The bowls are offered in bright orange, yellow or blue. The bowls’ low center of gravity makes it possible for them to remain stable and right themselves when tipped over. The bowls are well-suited to be used as serving bowls, snack bowls or for just throwing coins into at the end of the day. In one month, Wobble Bowls raised $42,384 from nearly 600 backers.
TGTs are tiny wallets constructed of soft Italian leather and high-quality elastic. They fit into the tightest pocket and don't make pants feel bulky like others often do. The wallets come in a variety of colors and styles and can hold as many as 20 credit cards. More than 7,500 backed the project with a combined $317,424.
One of the more fashionable items on Kickstarter this year was the Griz Coat. The original grizzly bear jacket is made from faux fur, has a detachable bear head hood and is complete with authentic-looking eyes, teeth, claws and nose. The jacket is one-size-fits-all and made in the U.S. The original Griz Coat became so popular that designers are now offering a polar bear version. The Griz Coat raised just over $29,000 from 180 backers during a three-week period last April.