Crowdfunding can sometimes be dreadful. Imagine seeing a very promising project you see on Kickstarter. You help fund the project and after a few months, you can clearly see that you’ve been duped.
In January 15 2015, over 12,075 backers have paid almost $3.5 million to fund ZANO. ZANO is an ultra-portable drone for aerial photography and HD video captures. ZANO connects directly to your smartphone via WiFi.
Torquing Group, the people behind ZANO, have failed to deliver on their promises and began to ship a “half-baked” product. They claim that the hardware is already future proof and would just need software updates to fulfill its initial goal. The ZANO’s battery life is way poorer than promised. The quality of the photos and the video is nothing to be proud of. So all in all, this product is nowhere near ready.
“Sending Zanos out to pre-order customers before backers was a huge mistake in my opinion“, one backer said.
“Sending to pre-orders seems to show a lack of respect to backers and Kickstarter in general“, other replied.
The project then was trashed and the backers were crying foul over the decision and asked for the liquidation of the money. People were claiming that the funds were misused.
“We strongly refute any allegations made that may suggest that the board of directors have misappropriated any funds,” the company’s representatives stated immediately after the things escalated. Torquing posted an update on how the funds were divided but were still dodgy on how much money has been spent.
The company also posted the following: “We would like to make a sincere apology for the understandable disappointment felt by all of those that have supported the project“.
The backers requested the ZANO unit, although it is not finished. So far, Torquing has not discussed those requests.
It’s unfortunate that these things have to happen. Sadly, ZANO’s case isn’t the first one and won’t be the last one. The Eye3 project, a DIY drone, was a more in-your-face hoax than ZANO. The Eye3 package that the backers received contained pieces from cheap 3rd party components. Clearly, not worth the $2,500 price tag it was asking for.
You may be asking yourself, why crowdfund in the first place?
Well, I would say that projects that get funded are mostly due to affinity. You see something you like, or an idea you once had, come to fruition and it gets you excited. Naturally, you want that to succeed and want it enough to make sure you have it at the soonest most possible time.
Everything from films, games, and music to art, design, and technology can be crowdfunded. Things like Pebble Time and Ouya have been from very successful crowdfunding projects. So, it’s not that all bad. You can’t blame the backers for not wanting the idea/product because the hook gets to you. It’s a risk most backers are willing to take.
IMO Kickstarter also has its blame share. Given the considerable size of the project, they should have investigated how things evolved, and maybe ask for monthly reports on the state of the product. Last but not least, they should have considered an escrow deal type. Funds should have been released systematically, not in a full lump sum.