Some crowd-funded projects are awesome, and bring great but simple ideas to life. Others, not so much. But whether they're grounded, or impossibly optimistic, all crowd-funding projects have a chance to fail, spectacularly.
After we heard about the horrible, catastrophic failure of the Kreyos Meteor, it got us to thinking: What crowd-funding bummers haven't we heard of yet. We put out the call, and here's what you dug up.
Part 1: Funded December 2013, raised $296,999 with a $40,000 goal
Part 2: Funded March 2014, raised $101,476 with a $500 goal
Hildy Jj says:
I've had no problems (other than the mandatory delays) with art focused projects. However my one tech attempt - SmartyRing - has collected about half a million dollars through two campaigns and has produced nothing more than a series of redesigns, delays, and increasingly ugly renders.
I'm really frustrated with Smarty Ring on indiegogo: As with all -=proper=- crowdfunding there are few expectations - the little perks/thank yous are often not guaranteed, or necessary. However, there is ONE VERY IMPORTANT expectation a supporter/donor has - being kept up to date with what is happening with the project. I did not support you to disappear into the woodwork - I just wanted a window into your development progress.
Smarty Ring on indiegogo has totally failed in this respect - hardly any updates, running a 2nd campaign on the same project while the first is still in progress and deriding your supporters openly are all signs of a badly run project. I have no hope for the Smarty Ring - I work professionally in the realm of electronics, had high hopes with some of their ideas, but this totally fell flat due to lack of updates/progress - especially when supporters are able to help with the little speed-bumps along the way with their own knowledge and experience.
And yeah, those prototypes aren't looking quite as slick as the stuff in the video.
PID-Controlled Espresso Machine
Funded January 2012, raised $369,569 with a $20,000 goal
I almost contributed to this project. 2.5 years later, their marketing still features bad renders of the espresso machine, rather than anything resembling an actual product. Comically, they are still accepting pre-orders at a much higher price than the Kickstarter price.
mPrinter - An analog printer for a digital world
Funded September 2012, raised $88,018 with a $10,000 goal
Arlo Gilbert says:
The mPrinter on Kickstarter took $88,000 from 706 backers then pre-sold them on their web site and then asked backers for more money for battery packs. The comments are entertaining and sad all at once but the backers seem to have united and are contacting the Texas AG as a group.
Here are a few of those comments:
Bluetooth Earbuds w/ Magnetic Docking. Made in USA.
Funded April 2013, raised $144,463 with a $30,000 goal
None of these have delivered and one offered refunds but only when he can get some money together. The Sound Band was supposed to have been delivered 12/2013 - now they're saying 2nd quarter 2015, if even then... they are still in R&D despite stating on the campaign they were production ready.
Kickstarter has been quick to respond that they can't and won't do anything.
Griffin is a little more upset:
I'm suing this guy, just downloaded the statement of claim yesterday from my courthouse site for another 10 bucks and change. It'll cost me a bit to do—I have to pay fees for pretty much everything and he's in California, so I'm paying a legal company to serve him. I'm hoping to get one that will video it so I can YouTube the look on his face when he gets served. His address is in the Kickstarter comments now so you can sue him too, and try to recoup all your fees though he may not pay up. So though you may not get your fees back, it's gonna be worth it to hang it over his head forever.
The Midnight Clock: Unlock the Magic of a Good Book
Funded July 2013, raised $69,116 with a $25,000 goal
I funded the Midnight Clock on Kickstarter over a year ago and got burned to the tune of $100. Out of the 717 backers, only about a dozen have gotten the clocks. Apparently the guy has all the materials sitting in his house and is no longer working on the project.
To his credit(?), this Kickstarter's creator is still promising an update in the project's comments, but the backers don't seem too hopeful:
GameStick: The Most Portable TV Games Console Ever Created
Funded Februrary 2013, raised $647,658 with a $100,000 goal
I would have to put the GameStick forward for this. While it was delivered, it has substantial problems. There is a dock to connect the device into. It was not delivered with the main unit. The company didn't respond to any comments for months. Not a single peep. It turned out there was a serious legal dispute that they couldn't talk about directly relating to the dock. I don't know what agreements or gag orders were made, but I can't see the harm in backers being told there is a legal dispute that must be settled prior to getting the dock. Nice and simple, yet the developers decided to end all communications about the entire project.
As for the device itself, I grabbed the dock so I could use the wired network. That simply doesn't work. The lights are on but nobody is home. The controller enters random inputs when navigating the system. Watching an MP4 or AVI randomly increases the volume or pauses the content. I had to turn the controller off to watch anything, which displays an annoying icon showing that no controllers are connected. After several months of minimal contact I finally got a replacement controller sent. It does exactly the same thing. Streaming content over the wireless network creates a buffer that only seems capable of holding 10 minutes of footage before pausing for a few minutes while it grabs the next 10 minutes. I hoped the wired dock would fix this issue but as mentioned I can't get it to work.
I was thinking of just giving this away but couldn't bring myself to dumping it on a friend or family member as I like them too much. Maybe I can donate it to a deserving Internet troll.
myIDkey: Passwords at the tip of your finger
Funded March 2013, raised $473,333 with a $150,000 goal
$100 bucks 1.5 years ago. They got awards for "promising new invention" from CNET and they were on a bunch of tech blogs for their idea/prototype. Then they ran into set backs on design and every update was about fixing the board issues. Now they have zero funding and their only models don't work.
You can say that it is a typical project that just hit budget and manufacturing problems. However, in my opinion the money was wasted poorly and the project was led by people who had no clue what to do. They were really good at spending the money for exec vacations and a lavish office. Basically someone got a bunch of money from Kickstarter and some other sources and thought they already were successful.
I know you take the risk here when you sign up to be a backer for a project. However, there needs to be some accountability. There are entirely too many projects screwing people over.
As always, there's a bevy of complaints over in the project's comment thread, but Diver Dennis puts it best: