What does the game Exploding Kittens, the Fidget Cube and the children's TV series 'The Reading Rainbow' have in common? They are three of the most popular Kickstarter projects of all time. Each of these projects raised millions of dollars from 100,000+ people. But what makes these projects winners, while other excellent and creative projects languish? Justin Kazmark, VP of Communications for Kickstarter, shared his thoughts on what makes a project rise to the top. The elements that help determine Kickstarter success will surprise you.

When speculating about the future, especially when it comes to product development, Justin Kazmark says you can take one of two different approaches: "One is about principles that resonate culturally in 2017, while the other is about specific trends that are evolving."

"In terms of principles, there's a growing sense of disenchantment with the conformity of mass market, consumer culture in 2017. The projects that do best on Kickstarter reflect people's longing for enhanced meaning." Meaning comes in a variety of forms, but Kazmark has identified three types of meaning that, in his words, "feel particularly relevant right now."

1. A focus on community

"People are naturally communal. Projects that create a sense of community do well. This isn't new. But right now, there's a clear drive to escape your virtual bubble and actually connect with others. Those projects that really stand out are able to draw you in and create a sense that you're all in this together bringing something new to life."

2. Projects that convey a sense of authorship.

"The more creators are sharing the 'who why, and how' behind their project, the more the project resonates with such people," Kazmark observes. "Conveying the behind the scenes history of your process, and giving others a chance to see that creative process unfold, is very appealing. We're seeing a shift from consuming to creating and sharing -- so that sense of what it takes to create is both infectious and generative."

3. Projects in the public benefit.

"There's a sense that the world is changing in ways that are beyond our control, which is uncomfortable," Kazmark says. "But independent creators are stepping up and finding the courage to take the reins in meaningful ways that benefit us all. Here's one example that focuses on protecting the science of climate change by providing data back up that cannot be controlled by politicians. We'll see more and more of this in 2017."

For those considering a Kickstarter project, but don't have an idea, Kazmark points to a post his team did that shares something of their predictions for 2017. Some key areas the team sees as ripe for growth include: everyday AI applications; collective intelligence; community-sourced hackable devices for kids; a 'factory on your desktop'; space research; and tech art for the home. He also suggests reading the Benefit Statement. It's a guide to what they feel drives Kickstarter at this time.