The Renaissance was an excellent time to be an inventor—money was thrown at the arts and even the riskiest ideas were worth a few florin. But for those of us in the 21st century without a patron in the Medici family, finding funds isn't always easy—even friends and family have a limit. And then, of course, Kickstarter came along: Boasting over 10 million backers and tens of thousands of projects since their start in 2009, the organization has relied on the kindness of strangers to make dreams come true. Success stories include "The Coolest Cooler," a tricked-out cooler which raked in over $13 million, as well as a young man's request for $10 to make a potato salad that ended up raising nearly $40,000 in five days. OK.
No matter how big or small (or weird) your idea is, if you believe in it, someone else probably will, too. We sifted through the thousands of projects currently live to highlight four from around the world we think are worth investing in. But here's the catch: If a project doesn't raise all the money by a set date, it doesn't get a penny. So if you feel a connection to one, act fast because the time is now!
1.Bamboo Bicycles by Pedal Forward
Days left: 11
In 2011, two students at George Washington University had the idea to build sustainable and affordable bikes out of bamboo. While bamboo may seem like a questionable material for a bike, it actually has a higher tensile strength than steel and is lighter than aluminium. But Pedal Forward is about more than just a fresh take on two-wheeled transportation: Each one sold in the U.S. helps provide bicycles for developing countries, addressing the world's transportation needs one stick of bamboo at a time.
2. Railway Playhouse by Backstreet Box
Days left: 10
Backstreet Box is an arts organization run by students at the University of Sheffield, England, who are on a mission to transform unused buildings into community art spaces. Their latest endeavor? Rutland Hall, a semi-derelict structure in an area near Sheffield that's been abandoned after major flooding several years ago. Backstreet Box plans to turn it into "Railway Playhouse," a performance center that will—hopefully—debut in March with an opening play written by a local student. Funds will go toward renovating the building: making the space ready for a stage and the spotlight.
3. "Endure Nepal" Film by Julie Cornelius & Sarah Li
Days left: 2!
Filmmaker Sarah Li and cyclist Julie Cornelius have joined together to make a documentary about a group of female mountain bikers riding through Nepal to help rebuild after the earthquakes of 2015. Their journey will start with the tough trek to the remote and leveled town of Kyanjin Gomba in the Langtang Valley, and then follow their progress working with two organizations to help provide economic empowerment through a prototype stone greenhouse. Money raised from the campaign will go toward travel costs, supplies, and the building of the greenhouse, while incentives for giving include a Nepalese cashmere pashmina.
4. "Europe's Mini-States by 'Mini'" by Steven Weinberg
Days left: 2!
Writer and photographer Steven Weinberg decided to travel through the smallest states in the E.U.—and do it all in a Mini Cooper. He drove over 11,000 miles in the tiny iconic car through the Principalities of Andorra, Liechtenstein and Monaco, Luxembourg, Vatican City (the smallest country in the world!), and the republics of Malta and San Marino, and documented everything along the way. Now Weinberg hopes to self-publish a book about his travels, but needs a little help binding the pages.