2015 in review: The best crowdfunded projects, gadgets, investments and companies of the year include beer, burritos, gifs and Greece

 
Lynsey Barber
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2015 was the year that crowdfunding really took off. Whether it was serious equity funding for a slice of the business or a kickstarter for the latest gadget giving people a reward in return, there were plenty of options.

Here, we’ve rounded up some of our favourites this year, including beer, burritos, gifs and more.

1. The best travel jacket in the world

Ah, the Baubax jacket. A simple dream for an inspector gadget-style coat which can do pretty much everything you need for the daily commute. A pocket for keeping headphones untangled? check. Another for your iPad? Check. A built in headrest? Check. We could go on, but it’s no wonder that the US-based project landed a sweet £5m. Such was the demand, it became the fourth most funded Kickstarter ever.

2. Gifs

Giphy is the go-to site for gifs, the currency of the internet these days. Having raised £10m in a series B round from various venture capitalists, it turned to Alphaworks for more, opening it up to a more diverse crowd of investors.

That effort bagged Giphy more than £250,000. While the rules in the US governing crowdfunded equity investment did somewhat limit who could invest - and ruled out any gif fans in the UK - a recent change to the rules by the SEC means that will soon change, giving even more people the ability to grab a slice of the giftastic opportunity if it arises again.

3. Pebble Time (the non-Apple smartwatch)

The independent company behind the world’s first smartwatch upped the game and proved Apple isn’t the only one in it. The Pebble Time became Kickstarter’s most funded project ever - nearly 80,000 people backed it with over $20m (£13.3m) raised and the watch going into full production this year.

4. Kerv

Another one for the commute, this time from a British company. The kickstarter for the Kerv ring proves the latest tech investments are not just for VCs in the know. The ring lets you pay for things in the same way as smart wristbands, watches, or indeed smartphones, but instead of swiping with a wrist, just wave a hand. Sounds good? 2,000 people certainly thought so and Kerv achieved 143 per cent of its target -more than £110,000.

5. Greece

Indiegogo was the source of perhaps this year’s most unusual crowdfunding campaign (last year, it was potato salad). The Greece bailout fund grabbed global headlines after one Londoner decided on a tongue in cheek mission to raise the funds needed to keep Greece going. It did not, ultimately, achieve that goal of €1.6bn. It was rather high. But, more than 100,000 people did commit a still impressive €1.9m, illustrating just how much crowdfunding can capture the imagination.

6. Burritos

London burrito restaurant Chilango already landed £2.2m in 2014, and this year it came back for a second helping. Now after eyeing a further £1m, as of yesterday it had raised £3.4m, a whopping 343 per cent of the target. It just goes to show the appetite for a good investment through crowdfunding.

7. Beer

British crowdfunding kings Brewdog also returned for a second round, raising £10m, a world record for an equity crowdfunded project. Cheers to that.

Meanwhile these brothers are brewing a Nespresso-type machine for making your own craft brew with the help of Kickstarter. Investors clearly love getting their brew on.

8. Political parties

Think crowdfunding is just for gadgets? Think again. The SNP raised more than £50,000 on Crowdfunder to increase its funding ahead of the General Election. Now that is a new type of politics.

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