MELLISA TOLENTINO | MARCH 13TH | SiliconAngle – These days, crowdfunding projects are a dime a dozen. And the sites that power these projects seem countless. The concept is simple enough, and with a range of pledge donations from $100 to $10,000, anyone can become a venture capitalist. The approach has been highly successful for some, like Pebble. But then, some projects have tanked. Worse still, some projects aren’t even real.
News surfaced this week that Kickstarter project Soap, a home automation router, is being accused of scamming backers. Word came from Reddit user Saironek, who laid out his evidence against Soap and its creators. Saironek stated that the creators didn’t look like real hardware or software developers; Soap’s social media accounts have more followers than backers on Kickstarter, with a significant number of those being fake accounts; and that the money Soap is asking for isn’t enough to make the product.
Saironek may have raised valid concerns, but he also may have a hidden agenda. Saironek is creating something similar to Soap, and is now being questioned as merely discrediting the competitor. According to Soap’s Brandon Jones, Saironek’s real identity is Jan Cermak from the Czech Republic, and has been harassing Sage Technologies, one of Soap’s suppliers, to give evidence as to whether or not Soap is a legitimate product.
Though Soap’s people have spoken about the incident, some still doubt the credibility of the project. Which raises the larger question, how reliable are crowdfunding projects?
A few weeks back, SiliconANGLE Founding Editor Mark ‘Rizzn’ Hopkins posted a rant on Facebook on the matter, stating that he has invested over $550 on projects in the past three years, but received none of the projects.
“At what point do we start blaming Kickstarter for supporting what amounts to fraud?” questions Hopkins. “Hundreds of thousands (millions?) of dollars have been collected as pre-orders for a variety of projects that were never delivered.”
Sadly, there have been other incidents of projects being launched on crowdfunding sites that left backers hanging.