Free energy, edible slime -- and more offbeat crowdfunding ideas

Crowdfunding platforms can make unlikely, revolutionary notions fly or flop. Here are some of our recent favorites.

Arthur Fahy
Arthur Fahy wants $30,000 to develop a machine that he says produces free clean energy. Indiegogo

How can you go wrong with this description of your invention? "NO MORE ELECTRICITY BILLS. NO MORE PETROL BILLS. NO MORE HEATING BILLS. NO MORE POLLUTION"

That's how Arthur Fahy is trying to drum up attention on Indiegogo for a device that allegedly produces free energy. He claims to have invented an electric motor that was tested at 148 percent efficiency. That would seem to be impossible.

Fahy wants $30,000 to develop the machine and "help save the world," even though he doesn't explain how it works (electromagnetic waves may be involved). So far, the project has raised zero dollars but it will get every penny after Indiegogo fees according to the site's flexible funding rules. Now, some might smell a scam , but some might say it highlights the glorious free-for-all that is crowdfunding.

Of course, Indiegogo and its much larger rival Kickstarter have plenty of rules governing campaign organizers. Indiegogo users cannot "make any false or misleading post," and Kickstarter prohibits content that is "false, misleading, or inaccurate."

Determining where to draw that line, however, can be very tricky. Earlier this year, marketing grad Mac Bishop raised more than $300,000 on Kickstarter by promising a "miracle fiber" wool shirt that can be worn for 100 days without stinking. But the same shirt could apparently be purchased even before the Kickstarter campaign -- from his father's textile company.

Kickstarter, Indiegogo and, to a lesser extent, other crowdfunding platforms like RocketHub and FundRazr form a colorful parade of off-the-wall pitches, from raising a few grand for childbirth costs to $1.5 million for a space telescope . The vast majority of would-be business ideas probably wouldn't survive even a few seconds on a show like "Shark Tank" but they're fun to sift through.

Among Christianity-related campaigns on Kickstarter, for instance, there has been everything from a guy who's supposedly the reincarnation of St. Paul the Apostle ($0 of a $75,000 filmmaking goal pledged) to a sandwich press that toasts the face of Jesus on your bread (successfully funded with over $25,000).

For those who love to plumb this wild side of crowdfunding, Your Kickstarter Sucks is a site devoted to dubious campaigns such as Anti-zombie Soap (successfully funded) and a pitch by two Pokemon fans who wanted $50,000 to travel to Japan (a total of $107 was pledged).

We love blue-sky dreamers, especially those who dream big, out-of-the-box dreams. From a giant Steve Jobs statue to motorized golf-course skateboards, check out our gallery of wacky crowdfunding ideas below.

 

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