The notion of asking strangers online to sponsor your idea got serious this year, turning out several multimillion-dollar campaigns and sparking new legislation around startup investments.
Got an idea for a new product but haven't tracked down enough serious investors yet? Why not just ask the great multitude of strangers online to front you the dough? Sounds crazy, but this notion, better known as crowdfunding, took off like a rocket in 2012.
, the best known of the crowdfunding platforms, has been around for more than three years now, but this was the year projects like the smart watch and raised millions of dollars on the platform. In fact, the growing number of multimillion-dollar crowdfunding campaigns have all happened in 2012.
Crowdfunding isn't just for cool new tech, though. Charitable causes likeHurricane , and sending abused bus monitor on a much-deserved, half-million-dollar vacation also raised big bucks online this year.
But this is just the beginning. So far, crowdfunding is only donation-based in the United States. If you chip in to a Kickstarter campaign, the most you can hope for is a warm fuzzy or cool gift in return (and some of the gifts are pretty darn cool, like your own Ouya console).
This will all change when gets SEC clearance and goes into effect. It will allow anybody to invest in startups and other projects through crowdfunding platforms in return for an equity stake.