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Beware of crooks in crowdfunding

Smartwatch or snake oil? The Kreyos Meteor, which raised over $1.5 million on Indiegogo, has failed to deliver on any of its promises.

Smart gadgets, it seems, are the new snake oil, with ‘scampaigns’ in hardware crowdfunding on the rise. The most recent example of a crooked crowdfunding campaign is Kreyos, the smartwatch which failed to materialise after raising over $1.5 million via Indiegogo.

The crowdfunding campaign launched in June 2013, and backers were promised that their Kreyos Meteor devices would be shipped that November, as soon as funding closed. A whole year later, they were still waiting. The watch has since started shipping, although apparently Kreyos has yet to fulfil all of its orders. And those who have finally received their devices are far from happy.

By all accounts, the Meteor fails to deliver on pretty much all of the selling points outlined in its Indiegogo campaign, including the gesture control and water-proof design which motivated many to contribute. It doesn’t even function well as a basic smartwatch; it only allows one app to be installed on the device at a time, and most ridiculous of all, can’t even tell the time properly. Two disgruntled customers have put together a comprehensive list of all of the device’s failings, while another has listed his Meteor on eBay as “the worst smartwatch ever.”

The conduct of Kreyos has caused many to turn to Indiegogo for action, but the platform holds itself unaccountable. This is not the first dubious venture to acquire funding through Indiegogo; calorie counting device Healbe, nutrition ‘marvel’ TellSpec and projection watch Ritot have all been torn to shreds by disappointed backers.

While investing in a complete stranger’s business on the strength of their online video will always be a risk, Indiegogo’s lack of interest in protecting the interests of its backers as well as its campaigners is worrying, and will no doubt cause many potential supporters to be reluctant in handing over their hard earned cash in future.

“The scary thing is, through all of these stories, all of this backlash, Indiegogo hasn’t displayed a single moment of contrition, or the slightest inkling to change,” says James Robinson at Pando Daily. “It still trumpets being the platform that doesn’t say no, when yet again, this openness has left it tens of thousands of dollars richer, and its customers paying out for broken promises.”

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