If you want to raise money for something these days, the answer often is: Ask the public for it.
Crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo and GoFundMe have become the go-to resource for projects as diverse as starting a business, turning an invention into reality or funding a personal goal or need.Talked-about tech—including the Pebble smartwatch and the vibrating HAPIfork—got a start on crowdfunding sites, and after the Boston Marathon bombings, friends and family of victims used such sites to raise money to help with medical bills.
Globally, more than a million successfully funded campaigns raised $2.7 billion in 2012, up 81 percent from the previous year, according to research firm Massolution. This year, it expects projects could clear $5 billion.
While there are plenty of projects that fall into the mainstream, others are more … unusual. Think potty parity, pizza and a salt-loaded rifle for pest control.
In fact, that's part of the crowdfunding appeal. Sites are a cheap way to gauge the market for a business or gadget, said Jack Vonder Heide, president of Technology Briefing Centers. "If people think it's a stupid idea, they're going to tell you very quickly," he said. Or campaigners might discover they've tapped into a surprise hit.
GoFundMe, Indiegogo and Kickstarter reported that these seven projects are among the more unique they've come across: