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I received a message earlier this week from a Kickstarter that I backed. They were backing out on their pledges. At first, I was concerned, but as I read, I found this to be the most elegant way to back out of a Kickstarter ever.

The Kickstarter in question is castAR, an augemnted reality startup that we’ve talked about and demoed in the past. Their focus is on hardware, and the product is an augmented reality display system. Check out some of the stories in the side bar to get the back story. Here, I’ll focus on the future.

Their latest update was the following message:

Technical Illusions wrapped up our castAR Kickstarter campaign a bit over two years ago. We can safely say that it was your enthusiasm that made Technical Illusions’ castAR one of the first Kickstarter projects to raise over a million dollars. Kickstarting castAR provided us with the foundation that Jeri and I used to begin building both a company and the castAR product. During the last two years we’ve learned a lot about the market we are in, how to put a business together, and the expectations set forth by you, our Backers.

In the last few months we’ve debated internally how we can best meet those expectations. On one hand, it’s become clear that many Backers want a product with full software experiences. On the other, our Kickstarter campaign was designed to deliver hardware that would be much more suited for developers looking to create those experiences. Simultaneously, we’ve been working on a consumer product that will deliver the experience many Backers have been expressing they want. But the reality is that a consumer product has a much more complex development cycle.

After much internal debate, we’ve decided to give everyone who was expecting castAR hardware a free pair of consumer castAR at release and will be fully reimbursing your Kickstarter backings if you follow the process we describe in a FAQ. You believed in us, so you get a castAR for free once the consumer product is released. To further express our appreciation, we’d also like to send you a couple small thank you gifts designed just for you, our Backers. We wear our Kickstarter success as a badge of honor, and we hope you will too. The link to the FAQ at the bottom of this update will explain the details.

We certainly would not be where we’re at without your generous support and trust. Respecting you and your expectations has been our guiding principle as we’ve discussed our next move. You committed to castAR with your emotional and financial support and we want to make sure we honor that commitment by showing you the same respect and commitment to you. We want to give you what you want to the best of our ability, and not unduly hang on to your backing while we work to make it happen.

Jeri and I want to sincerely thank you for embarking on this journey with us. The entire process has been very humbling and we have especially enjoyed interacting with all of you. At the start of any journey it is not always exactly clear where you might end up. While we’ve made some mistakes and course corrections along the way we think that they will ultimately lead to a better product.

Jeri and I aren’t going away and we will always make time to ensure that your questions are answered and that your comments are received. Always feel free to email Jeri [jeri@castar.com] or me [rick@castar.com] directly.

Once again, you’ve made this all possible. We’re excited to be sharing castAR’s success with our greatest and most trusted supporters.

Jeri & Rick

Let me summarize this a bit for you.

They’re refunding all the backers who were supposed to get a unit, and they’re going to send them a nicer commercial unit for free as soon as they’re available. I can’t think of a more elegant way to handle this situation.

Sure, some people might be a little upset that they won’t be receiving the development kit they were expecting, and they’ll have to wait a little longer to get the commercial unit. I suspect that more people will be happy with this action, though.

As for me, I have already received my reward and they can’t take that from me!

My name on the CastAR dev kit PCB

My name on the castAR dev kit PCB