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The FitNatic Nourish, and other cautionary crowd-funding tales

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal | Aug. 24, 2015
Revelations of the sketchy track record of two members of the FitNatic team prompted us to look back at successful crowd-funding campaigns that failed to deliver.

But here’s a sobering fact: An entrepreneur—especially a first timer—is far more likely to fail than to succeed. Even well-established companies sometimes announce new products that they never manage to deliver: It’s called vaporware. The difference is that those companies don’t usually ask consumers to fund product development (although that’s changing).

FitNatic’s founders may have some open campaigns to their name, but they’re certainly not the first entrepreneurs to have successfully funded crowd-funding campaigns and then failed to deliver. Here are five other campaigns that were wildly successful at raising money, but not nearly as successful when it came to delivery.

Clang

Celebrity cachet is no guarantee that a crowd-funding campaign will end up delivering a product. Clang was a sword-fighting adventure game conceived by award-winning American science-fiction author Neal Stephenson (Snowcrash, The Diamond Age,and most recently Seveneves ). In July 2012, Stephenson’s concept raised $526,125 and managed to produce a prototype game that was “technically innovative” but “not very fun to play,” according to Stephenson. In September 2014, Stephenson confirmed in a final update that the project was officially dead.

Yogventures

In May 2012, a group of YouTubers (“The Yogscast”), and their friends from Winterkewl Games created a Kickstarter project for Yogventures, an open-world sandbox multiplayer video game that piqued the interest of 13,647 backers who pledged $567,665 (more than twice the $250,000 goal). They released a beta version of the game on August 7, 2013, but a year later Winterkewl updated the Kickstarter page to announce that the partnership had dissolved and Winterkewl would no longer be working on the project. Meanwhile, the Yogscast updated backers via email with an apology, a confirmation that the project was dead, and a peace offering: access to TUG, a successfully-funded Kickstarter game that did deliver.

myIDkey

In March 2013, 3,927 backers pledged $473,333 to fund myIDkey: a neat little fingerprint-reading, voice-activated thumb drive that stored passwords and log-in information. myIDkey seemed like an excellent investment: Not only did Arkami, the tech company behind the gadget, have a working prototype, but that working prototype won three CES Innovations awards at CES 2013. On top of that, the company managed to raise another $3 million in capital from investors, so all signs should have pointed to a success. But after several redesigns and an investor syndicate that couldn’t agree on financing terms, myIDkey has yet to ship to more than a handful of backers.

Smarty Ring

In early 2014, the creators of Smarty Ring—a ‘smart’ ring that delivers notifications to your finger and doubles as a remote control for your smartphone—successfully overfunded their project not once, but twice. In December 2013, the Smarty Ring Indiegogo campaign raised $297,999 (745 percent of their $40,000 goal), and in March 2014, their second Indiegogo campaign raised $102,171 (20,434 percent of their $500 goal). But the project ran into some technical difficulties (something about short-circuiting LEDs), and their latest update states that backers should receive rings in a “couple of months.” Of course, that update was posted 8 months ago, and backers have yet to receive anything.

 

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